Music has had always had a place in the heart of Clark Atlanta University and its parent institutions, Atlanta University (1865) and Clark College (1869), dating back to the Johnson brothers composing “Lift Every Voice”, and beyond. Jazz has a special place in CAU history, from big band and swing to bop to contemporary styles. CAU is also the home of WCLK-FM, the longest running jazz-formatted station in the world. Here are some influential alumni, faculty members and others with ties to Clark Atlanta University who have made tremendous contributions to jazz music:

Wendy Williams (WCLK)

General Manager, Jazz 91.9 WCLK

Wendy Williams, a native of Pennsylvania, received her MBA in marketing from Clark Atlanta University. She is currently the longest-serving General Manager of Jazz 91.9 WCLK-FM, a professional public radio station licensed to Clark Atlanta University serving the metro Atlanta area for 40 years. Before becoming the station’s general manager for the pat 25 years, Williams was the General Manager of WEAA-FM in Baltimore, Maryland; a Producer at WPXI-TV, a NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh, PA; and WELA-FM in OH.

Williams is a founding member and chair of the African American Public Radio Consortium, Inc. (AAPRC), a national organization that distributes diverse programming to a network of more than 60 stations throughout the U.S. She has also served on the public radio board of Eastern Region Public Media (ERPM), a national organization comprised of more than 100 public radio stations and the DEI Board, which is dedicated to helping non-commercial media with fundraising and development strategies that sustaining public service mission. Williams is also a member of the CAU Guild, an organization which provides scholarships to students pursuing music arts education.





Sherman Irby

Jazz musician, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra

Clark Atlanta University, 1990

Alto saxophonist Sherman Irby began his musician career in high school recording with James Cleveland. After graduating with his bachelors degree in Music Education from Clark Atlanta University, Irby worked with Johnny O’Neal, moved to New York and recorded with Blue Note Records. 1995-1997 proved busy for Irby: he was a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, recording two albums with Blue Note Records, touring with Marcus Roberts and Roy Hargrove, and participating in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program.

Irby also played with Elvin Jones, and Papo Vazquez’s Pirates Troubadours. Since 2003, Irby has served as the regional director for JazzMasters Workshop, mentoring young children.





Phillip N. Davis

Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, keyboardist

Clark Atlanta University, 1991


A world-renowned keyboardist, songwriter, Grammy Award-winning producer and recording artist, Phillip N. Davis jumpstarted his passion in music early. His father taught him to play piano and trumpet; Davis also took up French horn, composition and arrangement skills. While pursuing music education studies at Clark Atlanta University, Davis performed with the CAU Jazz Orchestra at the Montreaux Jazz Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival.

In high demand as a session leader and composer, Davis has performed with Will Downing, Jonathan Butler, George Duke, Rachelle Farrell, Gerald Albright, Boney James and Najee. He has also produced for Al Jarreau and wrote the title track of Boney James' 1999 album, Body Language.
Davis is the founder and CEO of PhD Productions, LLC, which ; he also currently serves as Assistant Director of the world renown CAU Jazz Orchestra alongside Dr. James H. Patterson.





Ryan Kilgore

Jazz saxophonist

Clark Atlanta University, 2002

A fourth-generation jazz musician, Ryan Kilgore began learning jazz from his grandfather who bought him his first horn. Kilgore became the first freshman drum major at Clark Atlanta University and pledged Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America Inc. He has made cameo appearances in several films including the 20th Century Fox’s Drumline, Paramount Pictures’ Fighting Temptations, and Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Kilgore toured with Stevie for five years and has shared the stage with Peter White, Cherrelle, Bobby Brown, John Legend, Boney James, Robin Thicke, Lalah Hathaway, Earth Wind & Fire, Marsha Ambrosious, and many others.

In 2014 he established the Kilgore Music Foundation (KMF) in Atlanta, Georgia, to bring awareness to the community about the value of music and music literacy in the lives of children, improve children’s access to music education programming, and expose aspiring musicians to the professional side of the music industry.






Frank Houston

Grammy-nominated musician, composer, vocalist

Clark Atlanta University

Houston developed a passion for jazz music in his formative years in middle and high school. While attending Clark Atlanta University, he joined the CAU Jazz Orchestra and pledged Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. For two consecutive years, Houston was selected from a HBCU-wide audition to be a member of the African-American Jazz Caucus (AAJC) HBCU All-Star Big Band. The group performed in Toronto, Canada at the 35th Annual International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) Conference, the 2008 Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, and the Schomburg Center in Harlem, New York.


Since his college years, Houston has performed with a range of national and international artists, including R&B artist, Musiq Soulchild, and Mandopop superstar, Khalil Fong (Hong Kong). Houston has performed on nationally-televised shows including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the ACM (Academy of Country Music) Awards, CMT (Country Music Television) Awards, Soul Train Awards, The Ellen Show, and the Today Show.