Dr. Brandon Waddles, a Detroit native, is no stranger to the city’s rich legacy of vocal music in schools. An alumnus of Renaissance High School, he was a member of the Renaissance High School Varsity Chorus, under the direction of renowned music educator Nina Scott. Waddles credits Scott and the late Dr. Brazeal Dennard as founding influences on his work in choral music. He went on to receive his B.A. in Music from Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) and an M.M. in Voice Performance & Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University (Princeton, NJ). Dr. Waddles earned his Ph.D. in Music Education with a Choral Conducting emphasis at Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL). Before pursuing his doctorate, he served on the Conducting and Sacred Music faculty at Westminster as conductor of the Westminster Jubilee Singers.
As a composer, conductor, educator and music director, Dr. Waddles enjoys a multifaceted career spanning the musical gamut. His choral compositions and arrangements have been published and performed by choral ensembles around the world, including the Morehouse College and University of Michigan Glee Clubs, Oakwood Aeolians, Westminster Choir, Brigham Young University Singers and the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir. In 2019, he was awarded as the inaugural recipient of the ACDA Diverse Voices Collaborative Grant. For years, Dr. Waddles has worked as a transcriber of Black gospel music for numerous choral octavos, hymnals and hymnal supplements published by GIA, including his recent work as a contributor editor for the One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism hymnal. He recently released Just In Case You’ve Forgotten, the first selected compendium of works by the late Thomas Whitfield, the subject of his dissertation.
Dr. Waddles has worked with a diverse array of artists, most recently serving as music director for Grammy-nominated recording artist Ledisi, collaborating with the celebrated singer on multiple occasions, including her Nina & Me concert series and the LEDISI: THE LEGEND OF LITTLE GIRL BLUE show-run at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
At the heart of Dr. Waddles’s work is his unwavering passion for Black sacred music, instilled within him at a very young age by his father, Alvin Waddles, one of Detroit’s most beloved musicians. His areas of research focus on Negro spirituals, the evolution of contemporary gospel music, and the life and work of Thomas Whitfield.