Dr. Charles E. Sykes has extensive experience as a music teacher, conductor, performer, and arts administrator. He is Executive Director of the Office of Multicultural Initiatives, Adjunct Professor in IU’s Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology and the Department of African American & African Diaspora Studies, and a research associate with the Archives of African American Music & Culture. An established authority on the Detroit era of Motown Record Corporation, he has developed a course on the subject.
Stafford C. Berry Jr, (Baba Stafford) is director of the African American Dance Company and a professor of practice in the Departments of African American and African Diaspora Studies and Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance at Indiana University Bloomington. Mr. Berry is an accomplished artist, educator, activist, and scholar of African-rooted dance and theater, and aesthetics. Prior to coming to IU, Mr. Berry was an assistant professor of dance and black studies at Denison University. He toured 12 years with Chuck Davis' African American Dance Ensemble for which he was associate artistic director, and he was on faculty at the American Dance Festival.
Mr. Berry is co-director of the Berry & Nance Dance Project, an all-male contemporary African dance company. Originally from Chester, Pennsylvania, Mr. Berry received his formal education in theater, dance, and music from Temple University and North Carolina Central University and his M.F.A. from Hollins University. He is a certified teacher of the Umfundalai Technique and has taught, choreographed, and performed African-rooted dance nationally and internationally.
James Strong is director of the IU Soul Revue at Indiana University Bloomington. Renowned bassist, producer, composer, musical director, and world-class musician, Mr. Strong has led a successful career in the entertainment industry for more than 20 years. He is the musical director for Stephanie Mills and has worked with popular artists such as Toni Braxton, En Vogue, Tupac, New Edition and LL Cool J and performed for sold-out crowds at New York's Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. He has also recorded and produced for top record companies including RCA, Warner Bros., Sony, Virgin, Atlantic, Universal, J Records, Jive and Capitol.
A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Mr. Strong credits his time at Indiana University and with the IU Soul Revue, under the mentorship of Dr. James E. Mumford, as an integral part of his success as a musician and business owner in the music industry. As a member of the IU Soul Revue, he honed the skills that would prepare him to travel the world, perform, and record with some of the entertainment industry's biggest stars.
As a singer, pianist, composer, director, conductor, lecturer, and teacher, Dr. Wise regularly serves for orchestras, opera companies, and choral festivals throughout the nation and abroad. He went on to Denison University (Granville, Ohio) where he earned a B.F.A. in Music. He did additional studies in Opera, Art, and German at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria, and in African-American History, Music, and Dance at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California. He completed an apprenticeship in the business and recording of Gospel Music with the Walter Hawkins Corporation in Oakland, California. Dr. Wise earned a Masters in Music Education, Ohio Teacher's Certification and Doctorate in Music Education from The Ohio State University.
Rev. Wise has served as a church musician for more than 30 years and has appeared on radio and television, recorded 22 albums, performed with opera singers, orchestras, dance companies, professional recording groups, and has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, as a singer, dancer, pianist, composer, choral director, lecturer, and teacher. Dr. Wise has penned more than 600 compositions many of which are available through the Raymond Wise Gospel and Choral sheet music series. His Anthology of 21 Spirituals for the 21st Century has received national and international acclaim.