Rising star, Brandon Waddles, director of Westminster Choir College’s Jubilee Singers and published composer with GIA publications, shares his passion for teaching African-American choral traditions with all.
Brandon Waddles, a Detroit native, has studied at Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) and Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ). He is a conductor, collaborative pianist and voice coach, as well as a published composer/arranger. Brandon has coached with such noted accompanists as Dalton Baldwin, Martin Katz, Jean Schneider, David Anthony Lofton and Clifford Jackson, and has collaborated on stage and in master classes with such famed singers as Angela Brown, George Shirley, Donnie Ray Albert, Vinson Cole, and Lauren Flannigan. His choral compositions and arrangements have been published with both the Evoking Sound and Westminster Choir series, and have been performed by choral ensembles around the country, including the Morehouse College Glee Club and the Westminster Choir. In addition to Brandon’s choral compositions and arrangements, he has worked as a transcriber of classic gospel songs written by some of Detroit’s legendary gospel writers (Charles Nicks, Thomas Whitfield, etc.) to be added to some of the hymnal supplements published by GIA. Brandon has served on various music ministries throughout the country, including Hartford Memorial Baptist Church (Detroit, MI), the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA), and Abysinnian Baptist Church (Harlem, New York City, NY), to name a few. He has also, on several occasions, been called on as a lecturer on the subjects of the evolution of Black gospel music and the Negro spiritual. He is a member of the Detroit Musicians Association, the Atlanta Collegiate Artists Association, and the Metropolitan Atlanta Musicians Association, all of which are a part of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., of which he is a member of the Collegiate Advisory Board. In addition to his post at Westminster as director of the Jubilee Singers, Brandon currently serves as Composer-in-Residence at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, as well as on the music ministry at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (Somerset, NJ).
One of Brandon’s most popular arrangements “Ride in the Chariot”
The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music
Brandon’s father is an outstanding musician and pianist. He said that his father does what he does, just 10x better! His mom would take him to see ballets and operas as a child. In Elementary School he went with his class to see Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and it’s remained his favorite opera.
Worst musical moment
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”
Brandon had an appointment with a very well known opera coach, and came unprepared. After being ripped apart for forty-five minutes for his lack of preparation, Brandon didn’t even get to audition for the school he was interested in applying to. He considered leaving music after that, but ultimately learned from his mistakes and chose to take a year to cool it and pick up with his graduate studies at Westminster Choir College, where he would make incredible connections. His connections with Dr. Joe Miller and Dr. James Jordan led him to take over Jubilee Singers, and become a published composer/arranger with GIA’s “Westminster Choir” and “Evoking Sound” choral series.
The proudest musical moment
Stepping up to the podium for his first Jubilee Singers concert and having the support of the musicians and faculty of the school.
Brandon’s forte is sharing his passion for African American choral music, namely concert spirituals and gospel, with those who are less experienced with this art form.
Most excited about right now
What makes a great conductor?
Connection and trust between director and singers
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, by Dr. Seuss
Arrangements by Brandon Waddles from GIA Publications