Department of Music Alumni Praise

Sherman Irby, Class of 1991, alto saxophone; lead saxophonist for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra; recording artist; founder of the Black Warrior Records label; jazz quartet leader; performances and collaborations with Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Roy Hargrove, among others; leading figure on the New York City music scene; featured in the New York Times, Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times, All About Jazz, L. A. Jazz Scene, and the Chicago Reader, among others.

“Attending Clark Atlanta University was the best choice I could have made for myself.  Not only did I want to learn how to play jazz, but it was also important for me to receive a well-rounded education.  Unfortunately, I knew I couldn’t get what I needed in my hometown of Tuscaloosa, AL.  When Prof. James Patterson came to my high school, he convinced me that I could get the knowledge and experience that I desired at CAU.  The classes were challenging, and the faculty demanded our best efforts. In addition, Prof. Patterson invited some of history’s greatest jazz musicians to teach and inspire us.  The years I spent at CAU taught me that hard work brings great results.  This was the foundation that I needed to prepare me for the world, and CAU gave me that and much more.”

Ayinde Al-Amin, Class of 2005, trumpet; Assistant Band Director, Mays High School in Atlanta; Choir Director for St. Paul AME Church; Songwriter and Producer for Area Sound Studios.

“The Clark Atlanta University Music Department gave me an amazing academic experience. The vast knowledge that the faculty and staff shared with the students helped prepare me and my classmates for success in the musical field. As a member of the Mighty Marching Panthers, the Philharmonic Society, and the Handbell Ensemble, I was able to showcase my musical skills in class and for audiences across the country. CAU prepared me for my work as an assistant band director for Mays High School, as Choir Director for St. Paul AME Church, and as a song writer and producer for Area Sound Studios. This is by far the best program for students who are serious about their education and musicianship.”

Garnetta Penn, Class of 1992, voice; University of Georgia MMEd.2008; Choral Instructor Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta, GA.; Master Music Teacher of Choral Music for Atlanta Public Schools; Georgia Music Educator Association Large Group Performance Evaluation Adjudicator; Georgia Music Educator Association, District 5 Chair; Taught Advanced and Intermediate Chorus, Piano, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, and Musical Theater.

“While a student in the CAU Music Department I was coached, trained, and mentored by faculty who took a personal interest in my growth and development.  The exposure provided by my instructors through master classes, workshops, auditions, concert and recital opportunities provided a real world experience that prepared and equipped me to become a music educator.”

Phillip Davis, Class of 1991, piano; Grammy Award winning producer; pianist/keyboardist, recording artist, and songwriter; owner of PhD Productions, LLC.; collaborated at the national level with many of the major names in the music industry.

“The Clark Atlanta University Music Department had a great influence on me and my musical development. Most of my fondest memories came from the halls of the music department. There was a  nurturing factor at Clark Atlanta that was really helpful to me.  Coupled with very strong and educated teachers, this provided a well rounded education. I learned the bulk of my jazz studies and jazz performance from Prof. Patterson and the CAU Jazz Orchestra and piano performance from Prof. Boozer. Dr. Wyatt, who was the director of the Symphonic band, allowed me to arrange popular songs for the band. All three provided me with a musical foundation that served me well in the profession. Now, with the music department expanding into specialized concentrations (jazz studies, commercial composition, vocal studies, piano studies, church music, etc.), the experience is even more focused on developing great musicians who can compete in today's music industry - in all genres of music. This includes live performance with major recording artists, composing and producing, film scoring, etc. These opportunities provide a great environment for students to learn, create, and grow as musicians, enabling them to compete in today's market.”

Lorenzo Callahan, Class of 2001, alto saxophone.

“The Clark Atlanta University Music Department has meant a great deal to me. Not only did it provide me with a great musical education, but the faculty served as mentors to me and other students. The interest that they took in my personal and professional life helped me develop into the person I am today. The music department made it possible for me to attain a college education. Without musical scholarship, I might not have been able to attend college. My experiences at Clark Atlanta University and the music program were paramount to my success and I would not hesitate to recommend CAU to others. “

Ignatius Hines, Class of 1991, alto saxophone:  M. M. in Music Therapy from Florida State University; music therapist for the Clayton County Public School System in Georgia for eighteen years, head of the Music Therapy Program since 2002; extensive work within the Department of Exceptional Students (formally known as the Special Education Department).

“As I reminisce on my experience as a music education major at CAU and the selflessness demonstrated by the professors, each in their own way, I must confess the smile that has formed on my face.  The motherly ways of Dr. Florence Crim Robinson, the tough love of Mr. Mark Boozer, the inadvertent humor of Mr. James Jones, Mr.
Byrd’s “tight-but-right” analyses during rehearsals, and the many, many times Dr. Wyatt and Mr. Patterson, through the leadership of their respective bands and orchestras, made bricks even when there seemed to be no straw.    They were sincere and seriously skilled educators whose generosity gave me the competence and confidence I needed to further my education and find a profession in music that was right for me.  I am thankful for this opportunity to express my gratitude.”

Herbert Andrae Beck, Class of 2002, Saxophone; Band Director R.J. Murray Middle School-St. Johns County Center for the Arts in Florida.

“I consider the musical education I received at Clark Atlanta University to be second to none. I was always challenged by my professors and peers to not only be a better musician but a better professional and a better man. CAU taught me to be a versatile and competent musician and educator. This has served me well in my career as a chorus teacher, band director and Minister of Music. Atlanta is also quickly becoming a premier cultural center for the arts and provides an outstanding backdrop for artistic education. I participated in the Jazz Orchestra, Philharmonic Society, Symphonic and Marching Bands and all served me well. The Clark Atlanta University Music Department is an excellent place to become a musician!”

Chanell Mosley Childers, Class of 2000, Voice; Master of Music Degree, the University of Miami, Florida; Currently Elementary Music Teacher- Dekalb County School System in Georgia.

“The Music Department at Clark Atlanta University prepared me for a successful career in the field of vocal performance as well as music education. Even though I wasn't an education major, the nurturing environment from the faculty is something that I will always cherish and apply to the next generation that I educate. My educational and performance experience from CAU prepared me to receive a Master of  Music degree from the University of Miami.”

James W. Kirk III, Class of 2004, Piano; M.M. in Choral Conducting from Georgia Southern University; taught chorus at Robert Smalls Middle School in Beaufort S.C.; choir director and department head at Beach Hill High School in Savannah, Georgia; Minster of Music at St. Matthews Episcopal Church. Under the direction of James Kirk the Beach High School chorus obtained many recognitions such as performing for the Georgia Educators Convention, performing live on the WTOC mid morning news broadcast, receiving second place at the Heritage Presidential Inaugural Choral Festival in Washington D.C., receiving a house resolution and invited performance at the Georgia House of Representatives, and performing for the State of Georgia Southern Christian Leadership Convention.

“My experience in the Clark Atlanta University music department was second to none. I received a top-notch education by some of the best and most knowledgeable professors in the state of Georgia. The music department at CAU is truly a family. I was able to contact professors anytime day or night. The greatest aspect of being a student at CAU to me was that the professors saw the talent that I possessed as an individual and then most pushed me to the limit, never taking no for an answer. I remember one night (a Friday night!) I stayed in Prof. Boozer’s office until almost midnight receiving intense coaching on a piece for a major piano performance the following week, because it was not up to his performance standard. He did not seem concerned about my other plans for Friday night and the weekend. It was an exhausting experience, but the performance the following week was a success, resulting in much praise and commendation from audience and professionals alike. It was the time and care that all the professors put into me that has made me the person and musician that I am today. As a result, I now aspire to eventually obtaining a job teaching choral music at the university level.”

Christopher L. Belcher, Class of 1997, Principal Instrument: Euphonium,   

Secondary Instrument: Trombone; M. A. in Education, Central Michigan University, 2005; Charter Member: Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Professional Music Fraternity, Inc.;

Band Director at Thomas Heathe Slater Elementary School.

“The Clark Atlanta University Department of Music experience as an undergraduate student was in some respects a cut above the norm with regards to what is considered typical of an undergraduate music degree program. Clark Atlanta University’s Music Department does not encourage static nor sanitized musicianship. It does however nurture the holistic musician. The faculty encouraged and fostered an understanding of the student as well as developing the talents of all students enrolled. I enjoyed the opportunities provided by the world class ensembles in which I performed. Rigor complemented with nurture was a recipe for my personal success and I believe that to be a prescription for any future aspiring professional musician.”