Billie JoZette Kerl Roberts Musical Giant… Vibrant Spirit… The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear Psalms 27: 1
Billie Jo Kerl was the oldest child born to Ophelia Roberts and James Monroe (JM) Kerl on January 30, 1945, in Dallas, Texas.
Her love of music began at home with her parents who shared their love of music with Billie and her siblings Johnnie Bradford and Beverly Ann. Growing up in a house filled with song, she was enrolled in piano lessons at the tender age of 6. Everyone knew that Billie had a special gift. By 12 years old, she was hired as pianist and choir director for the Youth Choir at Kirkwood C.M.E. Church; her first job.
Billie attended James Madison High School (Dallas, TX). Needing a date to the junior prom, Billie’s home economics teacher, who believed she knew the perfect gentleman to serve as Billie’s date… Alfred Roberts.
Continuing on her path in music, she attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where she received her Bachelor’s in Music Education Degree (B.MEd), her Master’s in Music Education Degree (M.MEd) from North Texas State University (UNT), and later her supervisory certification from Texas Woman’s University.
She also went on to marry her prom date, Alfred Roberts. Married for 52 years, they raised three children, Alfrelynn, LaTasha and Alfred Jr., who were the joys of her life. Later her grandchildren Alfred Jeremiah and Lailah Anais filled the heart of their beloved Mama B.
Billie taught choral music, music theory, theater and speech in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy (where she penned the school song), L. G. Pinkston, W.T. White, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt High Schools, and at Charles Rice Elementary School. Her choirs at Roosevelt were locally, statewide, nationally, and inter-nationally acclaimed. She also spent several years as the Director for Choral Music and Art for DISD, as well as the Area 2 Fine Arts Specialist.
Billie also served as Director of Music Ministries at Bethel A.M.E. Church, St. Paul A.M.E. Church, St. Luke “Community” UMC, and Friendship-West Baptist Church and served as accompanist for the sanctuary choir at Bethany Missionary Baptist Church, and the children’s choir at St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church (UMC).
After retiring from the Dallas Independent School District in 2016 after forty-five (45) years of service, “Sister Billie” or “Ms. Billie”, as she is often called, worked with numerous religious, community and civic organizations. An active member of St. Luke “Community” UMC, she also served as president of the Dallas Metroplex Musicians’ Association and mentored choral conductors in Dallas and Lancaster ISD. She was also the founding member of New Arts Six Spiritual Ensemble, and a proud (50+ Years) member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Dallas Metroplex Musicians Association (DMMA)/National Association of Negro Musicians (Charter Member), The National Alliance of Black School Educators, Texas Choral Directors Association, The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Fine Arts Chamber Players, to name a few. Her life and artistry impacted generations.
Billie was a distinguished and accomplished musician and educator who received many awards and accolades for her work in the schools, church and the community. Honors included 1976 Outstanding Service Award – Lincoln High School, 1982 Gold Music Award Recipient, 1985 Certificate of Appreciation from the Department of Health and Human Services, 1986 Outstanding Contribution to Black History Symposium – Region VI, 1996 High School Teacher of the Year, 1997 Outstanding Support of Langston University Concert Choir and Department of Music, 2007 Inducted into the Dallas Chapter Gospel Music Workshop of America Circle of Honor, 2011 DMMA Musician of the Year, and 2014 University of Texas at Austin Distinguished Music Educator Award to name a few. In 2019, Billie received a proclamation naming the DMMA Junior/Youth Division in her honor.
Billie Kerl Roberts was gifted with huge talents. But she will most be remembered by those who knew her for her open heart, her big laugh, her deep faith, and the joy and care she gave to everyone she touched.
Billie leaves as her most important legacy, LOVE.
Billie joins her mother, father, mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother, and leaves a host of family and friends to honor and celebrate her spirit: husband, Dr. Alfred L. Roberts, Sr.; sister, Dr. Beverly A. Mitchell-Brooks; daughters, Alfrelynn Roberts, LaTasha Roberts; son Alfred L. Roberts, Jr. (Monique Leonard, mother of grandchildren); grandchildren, Alfred Jeremiah and Lailah Anais; sister-in-law, Alma Lee Kerl, nieces, Karolyn Kerl-Blue, Jocelyn Kerl, Teri Mitchell Porter (Rico), Dr. Stacy Mitchell-Doyle (Mike); grand-nieces, Olivia Rose Porter, Lillian Ophelia Doyle; nephews, James Kerl (Jennifer), Don Kerl (Sharon), Anthony Kerl; special daughters, Angela M. Jenifer (Theodore), Margaret Hudson-Boozer, Monya Davis Logan; special sisters Lena Lane, Shirley Ison-Newsome, Marilyn Calhoun (Michael), Shelly Parker (RA), Sammie McAfee, Karen Harrison (Ernest), Grecian Holley, Eva Flowers (Wilbert),
Virginia Terry (Bishop TT); special brothers Marvin Cowens (Barbara), Larry Willis, William Mitchell (Verna).