African American Music History
Damien Sneed teaches the Global Conservatoire course
Damien Sneed is a pianist, organist, conductor, composer, producer, arranger, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. Sneed has worked with jazz, classical, pop, and R&B legends including the late Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Jessye Norman, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, Lawrence Brownlee, and many others. The multi-genre recording artist is a recipient of the prestigious Sphinx Medal of Excellence, which is presented annually to emerging Black and Latino leaders in classical music.
Earlier this year, Sneed embarked on a 36-city North American tour titled, “We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. featuring Damien Sneed.” The tour coincided with the 35th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which was signed into law and made a federal holiday in 1983. Sneed noted, “It was an honor to celebrate the life and legacy of the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., as well as many other great artists and public figures who used their voices and their art to let the world know that one day we will truly overcome.”
LeChateau Earl Records, the boutique label Sneed established in 2009, reflects the musician’s varied musical interests and features critically acclaimed artists from classical, jazz, gospel and other musical genres. The label has released several CD projects including his current album, Damien Sneed: We Shall Overcome (January 2019). Other releases include The Three Sides of Damien Sneed: Classical, Jazz and Sanctified Soul (July 2018), Broken To Minister: The Deluxe Edition (March 2015), Spiritual Sketches (June 2013), and Introspections LIVE (January 2010).
Sneed has also served as music director for Grammy Award-winning gospel artists The Clark Sisters, Richard Smallwood, Donnie McClurkin, Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole and Kim Burrell.
In April 2015, Sneed made his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall for Wynton Marsalis’ “Abyssinian 200: A Celebration” on the legendary Ronald O. Perelman Stage. Sneed is the founder and artistic director of Chorale Le Chateau, which has gained a global reputation for its vivid interpretations of vocal literature, including Renaissance period pieces, art songs, jazz, spirituals, gospel, and avant-garde contemporary music. He is featured as the conductor on the recording of Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass with Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chorale Le Chateau.
Sneed has also ventured into the world of musical theater and has partnered with Tony Award winner George Faison as the musical director for CityParks Foundation’s SummerStage production of “The Wiz: A Celebration in Dance & Music” in historic Central Park.
Sneed’s other professional affiliations have included The Juilliard School, the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the City University of New York, Nyack College, The Boys Choir of Harlem, the Martina Arroyo Foundation, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, YAMAHA as an endorsed Influential Artist, and is a Hammond Suzuki USA artist.
Sneed has performed in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Europe, Japan, South America, Africa, and the United States, demonstrating his acclaim as a respected artist with a global reach.
A graduate of John S. Davidson Fine Arts School, Sneed has studied at some of the finest conservatories and universities, including Howard University, where he earned a Bachelor of Music – Piano Performance; the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University; New York University, where he earned a Master of Music in Music Technology: Scoring for Film and Multimedia; and the Manhattan School of Music. Sneed will also graduate with his doctorate in Orchestral Conducting from USC in 2019.
Sneed recently joined the renowned staff of the Houston Grand Opera (HGOco) as Music Director and Composer in Residence and serves as cover conductor for HGO mainstage productions under Patrick Summers, Artistic and Music Director. He has been commissioned to compose a new chamber opera called MARIAN’S SONG about the life of Marian Anderson for Houston Grand Opera which will have its world premiere on March 5, 2020, at the Cullen Theater.
Sneed was recently named a 2019 Artist-in-Residence at the Carr Center in Detroit, MI, along with Debbie Allen, George Shirley, and Savion Glover. His engagements for the upcoming 2019-2020 season include presenting his newly composed Broadway musical, BROTHER NAT, with book by award-winning author Jabari Asim at the New York Musical Festival in July 2019; conducting Scott Joplin’s opera TREEMONISHA at the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice in Phoenicia, NY, on August 3, 2019; and presenting a solo classical piano recital at the Gateways Music Festival at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, on Wednesday, August 7, 2019.
On October 11, 2019, Sneed will also premiere his brand-new composition OUR JOURNEY: 400 YEARS for mezzo soprano, baritone, piano, chorus and chamber orchestra commemorating the arrival of Africans to Jamestown in 1619 at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and an October 28, 2019, at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.
Sneed will also lecture on Arts Leadership & Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor on October 29, 2019; at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Swing Academy on The History of Gospel Music for three classes in November 2019; and both lecture on and conduct Wynton Marsalis’ ABYSSINIAN MASS at the National
Collegiate Choral Organization’s Biennial Conference at the University of Maryland- College Park on November 8-9, 2019. He will conduct Wynton Marsalis’ ABYSSINIAN MASS with Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chorale Le Chateau at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater on November 21-23, 2019; perform and lead a Christmas tour with IMG Artists in December 2019; perform and lead the second WE SHALL OVERCOME TOUR with IMG Artists from January 12, 2020- March 14, 2020, throughout the U.S. and Canada; perform as a guest artists at the Messiah College Gospel Festival in Mechanicsville, PA, on April 18, 2019; and much more.