Composer Biographies

H. LESLIE ADAMS (b. 1932) is an American composer of song, symphony, ballet, and choral works. His works have been commissioned and/or performed by the New York City Opera, the Cleveland Orchestra, and other organizations around the globe. His Nightsongs on the poetry of Black authors are perhaps his best-known vocal works. On this program: From Nightsongs, “Prayer” and “Creole Girl” Visit Website

PETER ASHBOURNE (b. 1950) is one of Jamaica’s leading contemporary composers, arrangers, and songwriters, as well as an established performer on violin and piano, band leader, and record producer. His achievements in the fields of classical, jazz, and popular music have greatly assisted the advancement of musical excellence in Jamaica. On this program: From 5 Songs for Soprano and Piano, “Liza” and “Nobody’s Business (But Me Own)” Visit Website

JASMINE BARNES is a composer and vocalist who has been commissioned by such organizations as Washington National Opera, Baltimore Choral Arts, Burleigh Music Festival, and others. An established educator, she is also Head of Compositional Studies and Jazz Voice Studies at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. On this program: “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in This Place” Visit Website

DAVID BONTEMPS is a Haiti-born composer and pianist. He has been called “the new hope of Haitian music composers” and in 2011 was awarded a grant from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts which resulted in “Vibrations”, a recording dedicated to his best piano works. On this program: “Secret” and “Il a neigé” (World Premieres) Visit Website

KATHRYN BOSTIC’s original music on Broadway, in award-winning films, and performed by critically acclaimed orchestras highlights her unique and innovative voice. An Emmy-nominated and prolific composer and songwriter, and an accomplished pianist and vocalist, Bostic composed the music for Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, which premiered at Sundance in 2019. On this program: “State of Grace” Visit Website

B.E. BOYKIN (b. 1989) is a graduate of Spelman College and Westminster Choir College. She was conductor/composer-in-residence for the 2017 Harry T. Burleigh Commemorative Spiritual Festival at Tennessee State University and currently serves on the faculties of Spelman College and Georgia Institute of Technology. On this program: “Secret” Visit Website

VALERIE CAPERS (b. 1935) earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School, the first blind person to do so. As a jazz pianist, she has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Tito Puente, and Marian McPartland, and her many awards include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Smithsonian. Along with Oprah Winfrey, Capers was the first recipient of Essence magazine’s Women of Essence Award for Music. On this program: From Portraits in Jazz, “Billie’s Song” Visit Website

ROLAND CARTER (b. 1942), Professor Emeritus, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is founder and CEO of MAR-VEL, a publisher specializing in the music of African American composers and traditions. He was recently featured on the “Masters of the Spiritual” concert at Lincoln Center, where his “Oh, Freedom” was performed by tenor Chauncey Packer. His Roland Carter Institute for Studies in American Music provides leadership in Black-created music today. On this program: “Oh, Freedom” and “Is There Anybody Here?” Visit Website

ANTHONY DAVIS (b. 1951) has been on the cutting edge of composition for over three decades. Davis has composed eight operas: X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Under the Double Moon, Tania, Amistad, Wakonda’s Dream, Lilith, Lear on the Second Floor, and The Central Park Five, for which Davis was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2020. His newest project, Fire Across the Tracks: Tulsa 1921 is an operatic documentation of the horrific Tulsa Race Massacre. On this program: From Fire Across the Tracks: Tulsa 1921, “There are many trails of tears” (World Premiere commissioned by Tulsa Opera) Visit Website

THULANI DAVIS is an American playwright, journalist, librettist, novelist, poet, and screenwriter who in 1992 received a Grammy for her album notes on Aretha Franklin’s Queen Of Soul – The Atlantic Recordings. She has collaborated with Anthony Davis on three operas: X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Amistad, and their new project, Fire Across the Tracks: Tulsa 1921. On this program: From Fire Across the Tracks: Tulsa 1921, “There are many trails of tears” (World Premiere commissioned by Tulsa Opera) Visit Website

MELANIE DEMORE (b. 1954) is a preeminent vocal artist helping to preserve the African American folk tradition through song and Gullah stick pounding. She is a singer/songwriter, composer, conductor, and vocal activist who believes in the power of voices raised together. On this program: “Sending You Light” Visit Website

MARQUES L.A. GARRETT (b. 1984) is an Assistant Professor of Music in Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. An active conductor, Dr. Garrett serves as a guest conductor or clinician with school, church, community, and festival/honor choirs throughout the country. He currently serves as scholarship chair for the National Association of Negro Musicians. On this program: From A Love Cycle, “O del mio amato ben” Visit Website

STEWART GOODYEAR (b. 1978), Canadian pianist and composer, is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. He has performed with the major orchestras of the world including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. As a composer he is widely commissioned by orchestras and has premiered his own works, including Callaloo for piano and orchestra with the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig. His Piano Quartet was commissioned by the Kingston Chamber Music Festival. Several Canadian orchestras and the Nathaniel Dett Chorale have also premiered his works. On this program: “One Perfect Rose” (World Premiere) and “Condolence” (World Premiere commissioned by Tulsa Opera) Visit Website

ADOLPHUS HAILSTORK’s (b. 1941) compositions in almost every genre have been performed by organizations across the world. His operas include Joshua’s Boots (commissioned by Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Opera Theatre of St. Louis) and Rise for Freedom: The John P. Parker Story. Hailstork is a Professor of Music and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University. On this program: “My Heart to Thy Heart” Visit Website

J. ROSAMOND JOHNSON (1873-1954) was an important American composer and singer during the Harlem Renaissance. He wrote numerous musicals and operettas, and his most lasting composition is “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, known today as the Black National Anthem. On this program: “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

JAMES LEE III (b. 1975) is called a “gifted young composer” (Cincinnati Enquirer) whose “bright, pure music” (Washington Post) is “tonal but highly complex” (South Florida Classical Review). Lee composes in every medium ranging from orchestral and band works to chamber ensemble, sacred choral and vocal pieces, and works for solo piano. A winner of the Charles Ives Scholarship and the Wladimir Lakond Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Lee is a Professor of Music at Morgan State University. On this program: “Songs for the People” (World Premiere commissioned by Tulsa Opera) Visit Website


TANIA LEÓN (b. 1943), born in Cuba, a vital personality on today’s music scene, is a highly regarded composer and conductor recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. She has been the subject of profiles on ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision (including their noted series Orgullo Hispano), Telemundo and independent films. Her current appointments include Member of the Board of Directors, The MacDowell Colony; Vice President of the Music Division, American Academy of Arts and Letters; Founder & Artistic Director, Composers Now; and, most recently, Member of the Board of Directors, New York Philharmonic. On this program: “Mi amor es” Visit Website

QUINN MASON (b. 1996) has been described as “a brilliant composer just barely in his 20s who seems to make waves wherever he goes.” (Theater Jones) His symphonic music has been performed in concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Seattle, New Texas Symphony Orchestra, and the Mission Chamber Orchestra. On this program: From Confessions from a Dream, “Eclipsed World” Visit Website

ANDRE MYERS (b. 1973) is a composer and instructor of piano, composition and theory based in California’s Inland Empire. Called “an insightful and skillful new voice” (Times Union), his music mixes narrative drama, poetry, and meditations on color to create work that aspires to moments of honesty, poignancy, and depth. ​On this program: From Two Poems by Langston Hughes, “Harlem Night Song” Visit Website

NKEIRU OKOYE (b. 1972), an American composer with a gift for incorporating many influences and styles within her work, is perhaps best known for her opera, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom, and orchestral work, Voices Shouting Out, which she composed as an artistic response to 9/11. Profiled in the “Music of Black Composers Coloring Book” and Routledge’s “African American Music: An Introduction,” Dr. Okoye is a Guggenheim Fellow and the inaugural recipient of the International Florence Price Award for Composition. On this program: “A Kiss on the Forehead” (World Premiere) and “Inside Is What Remains” (World Premiere commissioned by Tulsa Opera) Visit Website

ROSEPHANYE POWELL (b. 1962) has been hailed as one of America’s premier women composers of choral music. She has an impressive catalogue of works published by some of the nation’s leading publishers, including the Hal Leonard Corporation, the Fred Bock Music Company/Gentry Publications, and Oxford University Press. Powell has received numerous awards including the “Living Legend Award” presented by California State University. On this program: From Miss Wheatley’s Garden, “I Want to Die While You Love Me” Visit Website

CARLOS SIMON (b. 1986) is an American composer whose music ranges from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with influences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism. Simon was named as one of the recipients for the 2021 Sphinx Medal of Excellence. Recent commissions have come from the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Washington National Opera. On this program: “Prayer (Gather Up)” Visit Website

DAMIEN SNEED (b. 1979) is a multi-genre recording artist and pianist, vocalist, organist, composer, conductor, arranger, producer, and arts educator. He has worked with jazz, classical, pop, and R&B legends, including the late Aretha Franklin and Jessye Norman. Sneed is a 2020 Dove Award winner for his work as a featured producer and writer on the Clark Sisters’ new project, “The Return”. On this program: From Spiritual Sketches, “Down by the Riverside” Visit Website

TYSHAWN SOREY (b. 1980) is celebrated for his incomparable virtuosity and an extraordinary ability to blend composition and improvisation in his work. His music has been performed in notable venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Village Vanguard. Sorey was recently featured in The New York Times Magazine. On this program: From Songs of Death, “after Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” Visit Website

NOLAN WILLIAMS, JR. (b. 1969) is an American artistic producer, composer, cultural curator, and music director. Williams has collaborated with an impressive roster of artists including Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Audra McDonald, Vanessa Williams, Smokie Robinson, and Denyce Graves. He is the recipient of The Kennedy Center’s National Committee for the Performing Arts’ 2019 Award for Arts Advocacy. On this program: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” Visit Website