Damien Sneed (Courtesy photo)
Damien Sneed (Courtesy photo)

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Washington Performing Arts (WPA) will present the multitalented artist Damien Sneed in a holiday show, “Joy to the World: A Christmas Musical Journey,” on Dec. 7 at Sixth & I for an evening replete with Sneed’s original arrangements of gospel, jazz and classical favorites.

Joining Sneed will be a cast of 10 singers and musicians performing well-known holiday classics such as “Silent Night,” “This Christmas,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “The Christmas Song,” “Joy to the World,” excerpts from The Messiah and many others.

The concert takes place at Sixth & I and serves as WPA’s first opportunity to showcase the pianist/composer/arranger/vocalist who has entertained District audiences in the past, including the acclaimed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, where Sneed conducted his choir Chorale le Chateau for Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass in 2013.

Damien Sneed sings praises with a few friends. (Courtesy photo)
Damien Sneed sings praises with a few friends. (Courtesy photo)

“Damien Sneed is an ambassador for classical and gospel music who brings positivity, optimism and thoroughness to every occasion,” Marsalis said in comments about Sneed. “His talent stretches across traditional divisions. In the realest sense, he uses his artistry to make our world a better place.”

Washington Performing Arts also commissioned Sneed to arrange Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” for the Children of the Gospel Choir during his performance at WPA’s 2018 Gala which honored Dr. Lonnie Bunch.

Sneed brings an impressive resume including a 2014 recipient of the prestigious Sphinx Medal of Excellence honor, presented annually to emerging Black and Latino leaders in classical music. He has captured the nation’s attention in a variety of other musical genres, including jazz, gospel, pop, R&B, opera and musical theatre.

He has worked with legends from Aretha Franklin, Jessye Norman and Stevie Wonder to gospel greats including The Clark Sisters, Richard Smallwood, Donnie McClurkin and Hezekiah Walker and served as musical director for season four of Sunday Best, BET’s award-winning gospel singing competition show.

WPA remains one of the most honored performing arts institutions in the U.S., achieving over 50 years during its historic past while engaging with artists, audiences, students and civic life. In addition, WPA has been honored with a National Medal of Arts and with Mayor’s Arts Awards from the District.

As they embark upon their second half-century, WPA continues to be inspired by the motto of its founder, Patrick Hayes: “Everybody in, nobody out.”

Visit WashingtonPerformingArts.org for more information.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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