Howard University Glee Club founder, Roy W. Tibbs was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1888. Professor Tibbs was appointed head of the department of piano and organ at Howard University in 1912. He graduated from Fisk University and received both the bachelor and master degrees from Oberlin Conservatory. Professor Tibbs also traveled to Paris, France in 1914 to further his studies under the supervision of Isadore [Isidor] Philipp. Mr. Tibbs trained a multitude of African American music teachers during his tenure at Howard University and toured as a pianist, while serving as director of the men’s glee club.
A review by The Harrisburg Telegram proclaimed, “The Glee Club of Howard University pronounced by the music world as second only to that of Harvard among the college glee clubs of the country, appeared last evening before a delighted audience that filled the Technical High School Auditorium to overflowing.” The reviewer further states, “Roy W. Tibbs, the conductor is unquestionably one of the ablest college glee club leaders that ever appeared in Harrisburg.”
Professor Tibbs married Lillian Evans, professionally known as Madame Evanti in 1918 and they had one son, Thurlow Tibbs. Mr. Roy W. Tibbs died on April 1, 1944 in Washington, DC. Records of the activities of the Howard University Glee Club forms part of the family papers and objects in the Evans-Tibbs collection at the Anacostia Community Museum Archives.
A shorter version of this post originally appeared on the Smithsonian Collections Search Center blog in 2012.