Deacon Willie T. Summerville was born in Sunshine (Ashley County), Arkansas. He graduated from Arkansas AM&N College and the University of Illinois with degrees in Music Education. From 1970 to 2005 he was Choral Music Director of the Urbana Middle School 8th Grade Chorus; and the Director of the Urbana High School Concert Choir. His former students created a facebook page ʺThank You Willie T. Summervilleʺ to honor his work. Mr. Summerville is a member of the Canaan Missionary Baptist Church Board of Deacons and has worked at the Canaan Academy of Urbana. He is a charter member of Canaanʹs SWAT Team (Soul Winning Action Team). He has also been Minister of Music at Canaan and Director/Organist of the St. Luke C.M.E. Church New Life Choir in Champaign. He is currently campus and community affairs specialist in the Department of African‐American Studies at the University of Illinois. He has been a guest clinician/director at more than 20 school district music festivals; and fourteen universities. He has been married for 37 years to Mrs. Valerian A. Summerville and they have 3 children and two wonderful grandsons.

Willie was featured in Difference Makers 2010: An eBlack Champaign-Urbana Publication.

During the Spring of 2013, he will teach a continuing education class about African-American sacred music.