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.
Crystal L. Taliefero is a revered vocalist and instrumentalist. She is a native of Gary, Indiana. She first began performing R&B at a local nightclub at the age of 11. She attended Indiana University where she became a member of the IU Soul Revue and studied under the tutelage of Dr. James Mumford. Crystal earned her big break in 1986 while performing in a local band called Kilo. Her skills impressed John Mellencamp so much that he invited her to join his own band on tour. Through her hard work she then received an invitation to join the Billy Joel Band in 1989. Since then Mrs. Taliefero has enjoyed extensive success as a performer touring with the likes of John Mellencamp, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn, and a host of other widely successful artists and groups.
She is not only a talented musician, but also a prolific writer and a talented producer/arranger with credits on several multi-platinum albums, most notably her collaboration on the acclaimed "River of Dreams" album with Billy Joel in the mid-1990’s. She also uses her talents and success for service as the co-creator of a series of children’s books as well as actively supporting VH-1’s "Save The Music" campaign.
Iris Rosa is a Professor at Indiana University, Bloomington in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, and the Director of the Indiana University African American Dance Company. Her specializations are teaching and choreography from the perspective of the African American and African Diaspora. Ms. Rosa has worked, studied and taught with the Ghana Dance Ensemble, from Ghana and Afric Azolou from the Ivory Coast, and studied dance in Puerto Rico and in Havana, Matanzas and Guantanamo, Cuba. She has been a choreographer for musicals at the Phoenix Theatre, Civic Theatre, American Cabaret Theatre and Theatre on the Square. She has also worked on international and community projects at the historical Madame Walker Theatre Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ms. Rosa is also the director of Sancocho: Music and Dance College, a performing ensemble which focuses research on African derived music and dance from the Caribbean and Latin America and Seda Negra/Black Silk Dance Company. Courses include, African American Dance Company, Dance in the African Diaspora, Black Dance History.
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.