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Professor Damien L. Sneed

Damien LeChateau Sneed (he/him/his)

Associate Professor

  • Department of Music
  • College of Fine Arts


As a multi-genre recording artist and instrumentalist, Damien LeChateau Sneed is a pianist, vocalist, 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, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, Denyce Graves, Lawrence Brownlee, and many others. In addition, Sneed has served as music director for several Grammy Award–winning gospel artists, including The Clark Sisters, Richard Smallwood, Donnie McClurkin, Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole, and Kim Burrell, among others, and BET's hit gospel competition, Sunday Best. Sneed is a 2014 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, a 2020 Dove Award winner, and a 2021 NAACP Image Award winner for his work as a featured producer and writer on the Clark Sisters' project, The Return.

Sneed recently joined the esteemed faculty of Howard University and the Juilliard School. His other professional affiliations have included the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, Berklee School of Music, Michigan State University, the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Nyack College, and the City University of New York (CUNY). In 2015 he established the Damien Sneed Foundation Performing Arts Institute. Sneed is the founder and artistic director of Chorale Le Chateau, a choral ensemble that has gained a global reputation for vividly interpreting vocal literature, from Renaissance period pieces to art songs to jazz, spirituals, gospel, and avant-garde contemporary music. Sneed is featured in the award-winning PBS documentary Everyone Has a Place starring Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Sneed's own Chorale Le Chateau, which captures Sneed's journey as musical conductor of the historic tour performances of Marsalis's Abyssinian Mass.

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; Manhattan School of Music; and the University of South Carolina with a doctorate in Orchestral Conducting in 2023.

He has released several projects on his boutique label, LeChateau Earl Records, established in 2009 to reflect his varied musical interests. Previous recordings include Unplugged (April 2021), Classically Harlem and We Shall Overcome Deluxe (January 2020), Joy To The World (December 2019), Jazz In Manhattan (September 2019), The Three Sides of Damien Sneed: Classical, Jazz and Sanctified Soul (July 2018), Broken To Minister: The Deluxe Edition (March 2015), Spiritual Sketches with Lawrence Brownlee (June 2013), and Introspections LIVE (January 2010).

Some of Sneed's commissions include Empower (2018) by Lyric Opera of Chicago; Marian's Song (2019) by Houston Grand Opera about Marian Anderson; “The Earth Sings” (2021) a song cycle based on the poetry of James Weldon Johnson by the ASCAP Kingsford Commission; the film score for Testament (2021) by Alvin Ailey Dance Theater commemorating the 60th anniversary of Revelations; The Tongue and the Lash (2022) by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL), imagining a post-debate conversation between James Baldwin and William Buckley; and Treemonisha (2023) also by OTSL, a reimagined adaptation of Scott Joplin's opera.

During the 2022–23 season, Sneed conducted Nathaniel Dett's Ordering of Moses at Riverside Cathedral with orchestra and Chorale Le Chateau for the Harlem Renaissance centennial and had his LA Philharmonic debut as a vocal soloist in Marsalis' All Rise symphony for Hollywood Bowl's Centennial. He also conducted the Flint Symphony Orchestra for Patti Austin's final performance and toured "Our Song Our Story," incorporating operatic arias, art songs, and spirituals featuring several Metropolitan Opera singers accompanied by the Griot String quartet with Sneed on piano. As a conductor, he has debuted with several symphony orchestras, including the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, the Stockton Symphony Orchestra, the Gateways Music Festival Chamber Players, the Harlem Chamber Players Orchestra, and his own ensemble, Orchestra of Tomorrow. He was recently signed to Apple Music Classical & Platoon Records (London) with his original classical composition, Sequestered Thoughts, as his first single commissioned by the Library of Congress with Sneed on solo piano. His newest recording project, Kaleidoscope, featuring the solo piano music of African American composers, will be released in Spring 2024.