|Photo Credit: Damien Seed. Top row left to-right: Damien Sneed and Brandie Sutton. Bottom row left-to-right Keke Wyatt and Stefon Harris|
Central Park’s SummerStage Presents: The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed: Classical, Jazz & Sanctified Soul on June 30. The annual main stage concert event will feature Metropolitan Opera rising star Brandie Sutton and Grammy-nominated artists Stefon Harris and Keke Wyatt. Acclaimed vocalist Jazzmeia Horn will open the show.
“‘The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed’ is a milestone in my career,” said the Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient. “I’m finally able to showcase the various styles of music; I’ve been working hard at it since I was in elementary school. It hasn’t been an easy task trying to legitimately exist within three different genres [classical, jazz, and sanctified soul], but the journey has been worth it. I’m truly honored that I’ll be able to share the stage with Brandie Sutton, Stefon Harris, and Keke Wyatt, who are all at the top of their game. I am grateful to the Catskill Jazz Factory who connected me with SummerStage for this concert last year after my show they produced at the New York Botanical Gardens.”
Sneed has been putting the final touches on his three-album, multi-genre project, “The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed,” which is scheduled for release via his label, LeChateau Earl Records, on June 29.
“I didn’t want to release something too quickly,” said the music maestro. “My desire is that this project reflects the heart and soul of what I have been working towards my entire career.”
Joining the summer lineup for “The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed” is Brandie Sutton, who is hailed by Opera News for her “sumptuous, mid-weight soprano,” and the New York Times for her “warm, ample voice,” “ravishing performance” and “distinctive earthy coloring.” The young soprano began her professional career with a solo recital in the province of St. Maarten and numerous presentations of Handel’s “Messiah” across the United States. She has performed in European opera houses, including the Semperoper Dresden, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Grand Théâtre de Genève and Alter Oper Frankfurt. Sutton made her solo recital debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and Merkin Concert Hall in Lincoln Center, and her concert debut at Carnegie Hall. She has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Orpheus Symphony Orchestra in Moscow, and the Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. In 2017, Sutton joined the roster at The Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Stefon Harris, the four-time Grammy-nominated recording artist and acclaimed vibraphonist, is lauded as “one of the most important artists in jazz” by the Los Angeles Times. As a leader, Harris will release his eleventh recording, “Sonic Creed,” with his band, Blackout, in September 2018 on Motema Records. Currently, he serves as Associate Dean and Director of Jazz Arts at the Manhattan School of Music. Harris has also recorded as part of The Classical Jazz Quartet with Kenny Barron, Ron Carter and Lewis Nash, and as a member of the SFJAZZ Collective.
International and multi-genre artist Keke Wyatt has recorded a diverse collection of music throughout her career, including R&B, country, techno-pop, soft acoustic rock, gospel and contemporary inspirational—all served by the wallop of Wyatt’s dynamic vocals. Wyatt’s life has been an open book, as she has starred in the reality shows “Marriage Boot Camp” (WE Network) and “R&B Divas: Atlanta” (TV-One). Recently she made a calculated move from the reality world to scripted television, appearing in the episodic series “Saints & Sinners” (Bounce TV). Music remains Keke’s first love; she not only sings, she is a strong percussionist and is also adept at keyboards, guitar, and bass. Earlier in her career, Wyatt performed with various girl groups, even receiving an invitation to join The Dollz (the Houston group that evolved into Destiny’s Child). Wyatt is best known for hits with former duet partner, R&B singer Avant, including “My First Love,” “Nothing in This World” and “You & I.”
In addition to Sneed’s various projects; he and longtime music collaborator and renowned classical artist Audrey DuBois Harris recently released their current CD project, “God Bless America.” Produced by Sneed, the five-song EP features the title track along with classic and contemporary compositions: “Amazing Grace,” “Give Me Jesus,” “God Can Do Anything But Fail,” “Precious Lord Take My Hand,” which was recorded with Jerroll Lehman. “God Bless America,” released on April 6, is available at digital retail outlets everywhere. This summer, Sneed and DuBois Harris will perform a series of upcoming concert dates to promote the album.
Sneed recently signed with IMG Artists and will embark on a 36-city North American tour in 2019. “Damien Sneed: We Shall Overcome,” a tribute concert to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on January 11, 2019, at the Empire Center at The Egg in Albany, NY, and will make stops at concert halls and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Other dates on the two-month tour include: Jan. 13 in Toronto, ON; Jan. 15 in Pittsburgh, PA; Jan. 18 in Princeton, NJ; Jan. 23 in Irmo, SC; Jan. 25 in Mesa, AZ; Jan. 26, in Northridge, CA; Feb. 1 in West Palm Beach, FL; Feb. 7- 8 in St. Paul, MN; Feb. 10 in Overland Park, KS; and Feb. 14 in Omaha, NE. The tour will conclude March 3 in Modesto, CA.
Sneed was commissioned as a composer by the Lyric Opera of Chicago for the world premiere of “Empower” scheduled on May 31. The opera “Empower” is about a group of students who band together to change their south side neighborhood and fight against the negative media representation of a thirsty reporter obsessed with corruption. Members of the opera’s creative and artistic team include Ike Holder, librettist, Jess McLeod, director, Angela Brown, American operatic soprano and Will Liverman, baritone.
Sneed is also finalizing his fall CD release, “Damien Sneed: We Shall Overcome,” scheduled for September 2018. Previously, Sneed has toured with Aretha Franklin, Jessye Norman, Diana Ross and Wynton Marsalis. This year, Sneed will graduate from USC with a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting.