Kenney Potter, Director of Choral Activities at Wingate University, holds degrees from Florida State University, Portland State University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A versatile conductor, Dr. Potter served as the artistic director and conductor of the Union Symphony Orchestra and serves as the Director of Choruses of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. At Wingate, he oversees a program that is recognized for its artistic excellence. His choirs have received wide-spread acclaim including winning the Grand Prix for best choir in the Pärnu International Choral Festival in Pärnu, Estonia. Most recently his choirs have collaborated with the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra in performances of Missa from the Mass in B minor and Easter Oratorio by J. S. Bach. As a performer, he has been a featured soloist in Carnegie Hall, and was choir soloist for the Grammy-winning Oregon Bach Festival choir as well as the International Bach Academy, conducted by Helmuth Rilling.
In addition to his work at Wingate, Dr. Potter serves as the director of adult choirs at First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina. As a clinician, Dr. Potter frequently conducts state-wide festival choirs and music conferences for NAfME and ACDA. His compositions are published by Hinshaw Music, Choristers Guild, and Santa Barbara Music Publishing and he is founder and editor of Wingate University Music Press, which publishes Folk Songs of South Africa, a series of pedagogical resources that he co-authored with Dalene Hoogenhout, conductor of the Wits Choir of Johannesburg. He resides in Charlotte with his wife, Heather, and their children, Syl and Calvin.
The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music
Kenney knew he would dedicate his life to music when he was a sophomore in high school. He had made the North Carolina Honors Chorus and was very excited to be working with Douglas McKeown of Arizona State University. At the first downbeat, of the warm-up, he knew he’s dedicate his life to choral music.
Worst musical moment
For a time, Kenney was a singing waiter (not at Macaroni Grill). He was then offered a job as a replacement teacher at a middle, then high school. He wouldn’t publicly admit to being a teacher until several years in when a vice principal of his told him that in fact he was a teacher; and a good one to boot!
The proudest musical moment
Recently, Kenney was selected to be a member of the Oregon Bach Festival Choir. In general, it’s helping 19-21 year olds sing Bach. His choir just sang the first movement of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. He was able to get his students to embrace it.
Kenney’s forte is teaching his choirs to sing with an authentic tone through his three-tiered process:
- Knowing the tone – Research, from high quality recordings, the proper tone for the style/period of music to be sung. Kenney suggests YouTube.com as resource.
- Knowing the voice – Have a basis of knowledge when it comes to “manipulating” the voice healthfully. A couple great books on this subject are The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults: A Manual for Teachers of Singing and for Choir Directors (with accompanying CD of sample vocal faults), and Vocal Technique: A Guide for Conductors, Teachers, and Singers
- Knowing the ensemble – How will you achieve the desired result with your choir specifically?
Most excited about right now
Kenney’s choir was chosen to sing at Southern ACDA for their conference.
Advice for your younger self
Seek professional and personal rejuvenation.
What makes a great conductor?
A sense of humility and humanity