Damien Sneed is a multi-genre recording artist and a 2014 recipient of the prestigious Sphinx Medal of Excellence honor, which is presented annually to emerging Black and Latino leaders in classical music, Sneed has also garnered attention in a wide range of other musical genres, including jazz, gospel, pop, R&B, opera and musical theatre. He has already been featured in the New York Times multiple times for his work in various genres. A pianist, organist, vocalist, conductor, composer, producer, arranger, and arts educator, Sneed has worked with legends such as Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Jessye Norman, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Ashford & Simpson, Wycliffe Gordon, and Eric Reed. He has served as music director for GRAMMY® Award-winning gospel artists, including Kim Burrell, The Clark Sisters, Richard Smallwood, Donnie McClurkin, Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole and Kierra Sheard. He also served as musical director for season four of Sunday Best, Black Entertainment Television’s (BET) hit award-winning gospel singing competition show. In May 2015, he was tapped by Tony Award winner, George Faison as the musical director and conductor for the CityParks Foundation’s Central Park’s Summer Stage production of The Wiz: A Celebration in Dance & Music. The production included Phylicia Rashad, André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lillias White and Ebony Jo-Ann. He was guest conductor of the USC Symphony Orchestra for the 2016 – 2017 season and will be graduating with his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting from USC in 2018 as a student of Maestro Donald Portnoy. During the 2017 – 2018 season, Sneed will be projects include the following: a Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall debut on October 9, 2017, an upcoming recital tour with Jessye Norman, several performances in Europe, a solo piano recital at Amherst College, a commission to compose a piece for mixed chorus and orchestra from the Washington Performing Arts Society for their Awards Gala and a new commission from the Lyric Opera of Chicago to compose an opera with its world premiere in May 2018.
Sneed brings his many talents in multiple genres to his solo projects. His first live solo recording project, Introspections LIVE, takes the listener on a musical journey through his development as a performer, and includes classical, jazz and gospel music. The recording features performances by nearly 50 instrumentalists and vocalists from various genres of music. Introspections LIVE, which was recorded at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre in 2010, is a collection of musical reflections of the most memorable moments of his life—ones that have shaped his musical artistry.
An acclaimed artist with a global reach, Sneed has performed in Europe, Japan, the U.S. Virgin Islands, South America, Africa and the United States. He also has performed at historic national and international events, including the 2012 Olympics in London and activities related to the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. Sneed performed in Washington, DC at A Celebration of America at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Eisenhower Theater on the eve of President Obama’s Inauguration and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2013. The event was hosted by Angela Bassett, Courtney Vance, Wynton Marsalis, and retired United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Guest artists included Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Jessye Norman, Dave Brubeck, Paquito D’Rivera, Roy Haynes, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, among others.
Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, Sneed was a musical prodigy who was playing the piano at three years old. He began playing at his family’s church when he was five years old, and by age eight, he was hired by the church as the music director for the senior choir. He is a graduate of John S. Davidson Fine Arts School, and he 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 is currently working on a master’s degree in Music Business in a specialized joint program at New York University's Steinhardt School and the Leonard N. Stern School of Business. In 2010, he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Sacred Music from the Christian Bible Institute and Seminary.
Sneed is also an Artist- in-Residence at Nyack’s Christian College in New York City. He was a member of the faculty at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He also maintained a professorship at the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters in New York. His other professional affiliations have included The Juilliard School as a staff accompanist, Jazz at Lincoln Center as an artistic consultant, the City University of New York (CUNY) as a professor of music, The Boys Choir of Harlem as an accompanist, Martina Arroyo Foundation as an artistic consultant, Yamaha as an endorsed Influential Artist, and Hammond as an endorsed Artist. In June 2015, Sneed established the Damien Sneed Performing Arts Institute, a division of the Damien Sneed Foundation
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