Department of Music lecturer redefines the choral ensemble experience for students

This fall, Wayne State University's Department of Music is excited to welcome Brandon Waddles, Ph.D., as a full-time lecturer in choral conducting and music education. In addition to teaching music education courses, Waddles will lead the department's choral ensembles into an exciting and redefined creative experience.

"For all that I have learned within the formal halls of musical academia, that much more have I been educated about in music pits, soundstages and recording studios," said Waddles. "My vision is to educate, engage and expand the artistic mindsets of Wayne State's choral groups about the endless possibilities of the ensemble concept."

Beginning September 23, 2020, Detroit-centric professional artists will join forces with the department's choral ensembles for a new virtual experience that focuses on many musical techniques within the musical arena.

Upcoming artists include:

  • APLUS, the singer/songwriter duo speaking on background vocal ensembles - Wednesday, Sept. 23
  • Motown the Musical's Arielle Crosby; The Color Purple's Angela Birchett; and Hamilton's Jonathan Kirkland speaking on musical theatre vocal ensembles - Wednesday, Oct. 7
  • Singer/songwriter/entrepreneur Kierra Sheard; and JeeMell Green, CEO of the Headliner Agency speaking on the sound and the industry of Black gospel music - Wednesday, Oct. 28
  • Internationally renowned composer/arranger Stacey Gibbs speaking on the historical and performative aspects of the definitive American sound...the Negro Spiritual - Wednesday, Nov. 11
  • The sessions will be livestreamed via the department's Facebook page. Choral students from Detroit Public Schools Community District and numerous historically Black colleges and universities will have a chance to interact with guest artists during each virtual event.

    "As our current situation calls the nation to reevaluate our approach to education, I believe our university shall lead the way in reevaluating our commitment to our community, creative and otherwise," said Waddles. "Wayne State will redefine."

    BWAbout Brandon Waddles

    Brandon Waddles, Ph.D., a Detroit native, is no stranger to the city's rich legacy of vocal music in schools. An alumnus of Renaissance High School, he was a member of the Renaissance High School Varsity Chorus under the direction of renowned music educator Nina Scott. Waddles credits Scott and the late Brazeal Dennard as founding influences on his work in choral music. He went on to receive his B.A. in music from Morehouse College and an M.M. in voice performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he also served as a member of the conducting and sacred music faculty as conductor of the Westminster Jubilee Singers. Waddles earned his Ph.D. in music education with a choral conducting emphasis at Florida State University.

    As a composer, conductor, educator and music director, Waddles enjoys a multifaceted career spanning the musical gamut. His choral compositions and arrangements have been published and performed by choral ensembles around the world, including the Morehouse College and University of Michigan glee clubs, Oakwood University Aeolians, Westminster Choir, Brigham Young University Singers, and the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir. In 2019, he was awarded as the inaugural recipient of the American Choral Directors Association Diverse Voices Collaborative Grant. For years, Waddles has worked as a transcriber of Black gospel music for numerous choral octavos, hymnals and hymnal supplements published by GIA, including his recent work as a contributing editor for the One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism hymnal. He recently released Just in Case You've Forgotten, the first selected compendium of works by the late Thomas Whitfield, the subject of his dissertation.

    Dr. Waddles has collaborated with a diverse cast of artists, from George Shirley to Anita Wilson to Grammy-nominated recording artist Ledisi, the latter of whom he most recently served as music director.


    Da'Stanza Murphy, CFPCA Information Officer

    Leah Celebi, Dept. of Music Academic Services Officer

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