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Sep 9, 2020

International Recording Artist and Instrumentalist Damien Sneed to be Artist-In-Residence at Michigan State University

Multi-genre recording artist Damien Sneed whose latest tour stop at Wharton Center celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will be returning to campus as an artist-in-residence.  Sneed will work with Wharton Center and the MSU College of Music, helping to bring social impact programming to both institutions.


Wharton Center and the College of Music have jointly appointed MSU Music doctoral candidate and student leader Jadrian Tarver as co-leader and project manager of this important initiative.  Tarver will work directly with the College of Music, Wharton Center, and Sneed to develop relationships across campus, cultivate programming and activities important to MSU students and other stakeholders, incorporate student voices into music programming, and unleash the power of music as an ally of Black Lives Matter, advancing progress in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.


It is my hope that through the performing art mediums, we can engage and encourage students, faculty, and staff to be active participants in the beauty of DEI,” Tarver says. “Mr. Sneed’s artistry, passion, vision, and work in DEI is needed at this time to reveal the rich culture and diversity that is in our community.”


Sneed is a pianist, organist, composer, conductor, arranger, producer, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. He has worked with jazz, classical, pop, and R&B legends, including the late Aretha Franklin and Jessye Norman. He also worked with Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, Wycliffe Gordon, Lawrence Brownlee, J’Nai Bridges, Brandie Inez Sutton, Raehann Bryce, and many others.


“I’m delighted to add my warm welcome to Damien Sneed, who returns to Michigan State University as artist-in-residence,” says MSU Provost Teresa Woodruff. “I look forward to his collaboration with our students and faculty, and the ways in which he will encourage our entire community to sing, celebrate, perform, listen, express, and think.” 


Sneed’s credits include serving 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.


“Having Damien Sneed on campus will be a strong addition to help us reach out to diverse audiences,” MSU College of Music Dean James Forger says. “This initiative can empower student voices to partner in the development of innovative programming to create a more universal sense of belonging through the musical arts.”


In January 2020, Sneed embarked on a 40-city North American tour, “We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., featuring Damien Sneed.” 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 History Month. “We Shall Overcome” is a joyous celebration reflecting on the triumphant and victorious moments during our history.


“I’m excited about returning to Michigan State University and the Wharton Center,” says Sneed. “We will be able to touch the lives of so many different people through the lyrics and messages in the music.”