Local Artist Damien Sneed Pays it Forward

Special Reports

(WJBF) – “Sometimes you have to take what you have and make the best of it.”

What Damien Sneed has is talent and what this Davidson Fine Arts School alumnus has done with it is nothing short of remarkable.

“We’re gonna go to church now, this reminds me of how I grew up at the Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia.”

Sneed credits much of his success to his faith, family, friends and his alma mater.

“The rigorous academic schedule that we had at Davidson under the leadership of our principal Beverly Barnhart, it really prepared me for college, and for the experience I am doing now and in the world.”

Sneed has performed with some music icons. People like the queen of soul, the late Aretha Franklin. Legendary Singer Diana Ross, Augusta’s own Wycliff Gordon, International Opera Star Jessye Norman, and famed Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

“Wynton is a big brother to me. He also shares opportunities.”

“I’ve had a chance to conduct with him around the world, for the Olympics in London…President Obama’s Inauguration.”

A few year’s ago, this multi genre recording artist received the prestigious Sphinx Medal of Excellence Award.

It’s presented each year to emerging black and Latino leaders in classical music.

Last week, Sneed shared his many talents with some aspiring young artists.

“This year I received a grant from the Sphinx Foundation and the grant is allowing me to start the inaugural performing Arts Institute of the Damien Sneed Foundation.”

It was held at the Jessye Norman School of the Arts.

Each of these talented students filled out a lengthy application, then they were hand picked to attend this week’s intensive study, at no charge.

“I am super excited because I want to be able to give back to young people now.”

“I said why start in New York city where I live, why not start here at home.”

On the first night, Sneed, Wycliff Gordon and actor and author Kate Chilton were there to share their personal experiences.

These high school and college students seem to hang on every word.

Following last week’s classes, the students showcased what they had learned at a concert for their families on Saturday.

If your talented son or daughter missed this year’s event, the plan is to do it all over again in 2020.

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