Damien Sneed & Friends is led by multi-genre recording artist and instrumentalist, Damien Sneed. Sneed is a pianist, organist, composer, conductor, arranger, producer, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. The Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient has worked with jazz, classical, pop, and R&B legends, including the late Aretha Franklin and Jessye Norman, which he is featured on Norman’s final recording, Bound For The Promised Land on Albany Records. He also worked with Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, J’Nai Bridges, Lawrence Brownlee, and many others. Sneed has 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, among others. Sneed is a featured producer and writer on the Clark Sisters’ new project, “The Return”, released on March 13, 2020.
In January 2020, he embarked on his 40-city North American tour, “We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., featuring Damien Sneed.” The 2020 tour kicked off on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at Joe’s Pub in New York, NY, and made stops at concert halls and universities in the U.S. and Canada. The tour concluded on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts Center in Twin Falls, ID. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sneed brought his brand of classical, jazz, and sanctified soul to venues across the country during Dr. King’s holiday, Black History Month, and Women’s Month. “We Shall Overcome” is a joyous celebration reflecting on the triumphant and victorious moments during our history.
On Friday, January 10, 2020, Sneed released the deluxe edition of the 2019 CD, Damien Sneed: We Shall Overcome on his boutique label, LeChateau Earl Records, which was established in 2009 to reflect his varied musical interests. In September 2019, he released his new offering, Jazz In Manhattan. Previous recordings included Damien Sneed: We Shall Overcome (January 2019), 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 is the founder and artistic director of Chorale Le Chateau, which has gained a global reputation for its vivid interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance period pieces to art songs to jazz, spirituals, gospel, and avant-garde contemporary music. He is featured on the recording of Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass as a conductor, with Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chorale Le Chateau.
The composer and pianist recently premiered his new opera, “We Shall Overcome — Our Journey: 400 Years from Africa to Jamestown,” at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage for the Sphinx Organization Performance and Gala, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Robert F. Smith. Sneed also wrote the libretto, which showcases musical styles from the African American diaspora from African rhythms to spirituals to gospel to jazz, all interwoven in the classical genre. He was joined by fellow Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipients and Metropolitan Opera’s J’Nai Bridges (mezzo-soprano) and Will Liverman (baritone), along with Sneed’s chorus, Chorale Le Chateau, and the Sphinx Virtuosi Orchestra, who brought to life his ground-breaking opera during the evening’s finale performance.
Sneed was also commissioned to compose a new chamber opera titled MARIAN’S SONG about the life of Marian Anderson for Houston Grand Opera, which had its world premiere on March 5, 2020, at the Cullen Theater at the Wortham Center. The Library of Congress commissioned Sneed to compose a brief solo piano work, “Sequestered Thoughts”, for its Boccaccio Project in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which premiered online on June 15, 2020. He was recently commissioned to compose a symphony in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen with its world premiere in September 2020 in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area in conjunction with the March on Washington Film Festival.
Sneed recently joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, where he teaches graduate-level courses in conducting, African American Music History, a singer/songwriter ensemble, a gospel music ensemble, and private lessons in piano, voice, and composition. A graduate of John S. Davidson Fine Arts School in his hometown of Augusta, GA., Sneed 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 2020. Sneed was a member of the faculty at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Nyack College. His other professional affiliations have included The Juilliard School as a staff accompanist, Jazz at Lincoln Center as an artistic consultant, and the City University of New York (CUNY) as a professor of music. In 2015, Sneed established the Damien Sneed Performing Arts Institute, a division of the Damien Sneed Foundation.