Working Group for Ministering through the Arts: Tradition and Innovation

Joyce Garrett has enjoyed a long, honored career as a music educator and church musician, Currently, she serves as Director of Music and Worship Arts at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria, VA. She served as choral master for two nationally televised yearly specials, “Christmas in Washington,” (TNT-Cable) and “The Kennedy Center Honors” (CBS-TV) for over twenty-five years. She has received numerous notable awards, among them the Roland Carter “Living Legend Church Music Award” presented at the Hampton University Centennial Ministers Conference in 2014. She was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from her Alma Mater, Bennett College, Greensboro, NC, and the West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, WV.

Dr. Will Harris is a renowned singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He has composed and performed his musical works nationally and internationally with his choir, Will Harris and Friends, The Gospel Music Workshop of America, and The Thomas Dorsey National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. Harris is presently the minister of music at Lewis Chapel Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the contemporary gospel voice and piano instructor at Fayetteville School of Music. Dr. Harris holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal music from Rust College, a master’s degree in education from The University of Phoenix, a certificate of worship from the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies, and an honorary doctorate degree from The School of the Great Commission Theological Seminary.

Barbara Jackson Sago was born to Bishop Andrew and Mrs. Lottie Jackson in Chicago, Illinois. She comes from a family of singers, musicians, and preachers. She is coordinator of The COGIC Women’s International Convention Choir where Mother Barbara McCoo Lewis, serves as general supervisor for the Department of Women. She served COGIC as vice president of the International Music Department. She served as jurisdictional minister of Music of Tennessee 4th Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. She and her brother, Derrick Jackson are the founders of The Jackson Studio of Music where hundreds of students have been trained in classical, traditional, and contemporary gospel music. Barbara has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Union University in organizational leadership. She earned a master’s in Christian Studies from Union University. She is married to Pastor Samuel Sago. They have two amazing children, one daughter in love and a son in love, and three beautiful grandchildren.

Leon C. Lewis is an accomplished musician, songwriter, producer, composer, and arranger. He currently serves as minister of music and director of worship and fine arts at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church (WABC) in Houston, TX, under the dynamic leadership of Rev. Dr. Marcus D. Cosby, Senior Pastor. The WABC music ministry has released two album projects under his leadership: ‘Oh to Be Kept by Jesus’ (2012) and ‘Chapters & Verses’ Vol. 1 (2022). Leon is married to Valencia Y. Lewis. They have five children: Christina Noelle, Victoria Nicole, Alexandria NaShelle, Xavier Neal, and Christian Noel.

L’Tanya M. Moore-Copeland is talented, gifted, and well educated, and understands the importance of being a good steward over her spiritual gifts. She completed her Master of Music degree in vocal performance and literature at the University of Illinois at Champaign. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Mrs. Moore received a Bachelor of Arts in music, with honors, from Morris Brown College. She is a lifelong member of Saint Philip AME Church where she has served as The director of the worship and arts ministry for twenty-seven years. She released her solo project “RADIANT” in 1996. A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, GMWA, and MCAM of the AME Church. LTanya is married to Kerwin Copeland and they have two boys, Kamron and Tristan.

Walter Owens, Jr. is a graduate of Northwestern University and Butler University and is currently in a masters/doctoral program in worship studies and is minister of music and arts at the Salem Baptist Church of Chicago where the Rev. Dr. Charlie Dates is senior pastor. Owens currently serves on the adjunct faculty of Columbia College of Chicago and Moody Bible Institute where he conducts ensembles and private lessons. His professional affiliations include Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He has served on the editorial committee for the African American Heritage Hymnal. He is husband of the Rev. Dr. Terri Hord Owens, the first African American woman leading a protestant denomination (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ) in the USA and Canada.

Eddie Anthony Robinson is a native of South Carolina. He holds a PhD in Christian worship from Liberty University. Dr. Robinson is an adjunct professor of worship at Trevecca Nazarene University and Liberty University. He is also the minister of music at Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers, GA. He is a member of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses and the Gospel Music Workshop of America. A songwriter and gospel artist, he has ten solo recordings to his credit and has written songs for many gospel recording artists. He also has compositions in two black church hymnals.

Dr. Diane White-Clayton, affectionately known as “Dr. Dee,” is a composer, conductor, soprano and pianist in both classical and gospel domains. Originally from Washington, DC, she holds a PhD and MA in music composition from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a BA in music from Washington University in St. Louis.  She studied in Paris, France as a Rotary Scholar, representing the United States as an Ambassador of Goodwill. A member of the faculty of the UCLA, Dr. Dee is the founding director of the BYTHAX Ensemble and artistic director of the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers.  She travels extensively as an artist, conductor, and clinician, and her choral compositions have been performed across the globe. A Baptist preacher’s daughter, she commands both stage and podium with grace, eloquence, and power.