Bennie L. Williams was born and educated in Marshall, Texas. She graduated from Bishop College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Piano and received the Master of Music Degree in Choral Conducting and Piano from Indiana University. She began her teaching career in Dallas, Texas and moved to Denver in 1970. After a rewarding career teaching vocal music at Hamilton and Merrill Junior High Schools and George Washington High School, she retired in 1998. In 1999, she joined Arlen Hershberger as a co-director of the Spirituals Project Choir. In addition to performances of the 80 member choir, there was an increasing demand for a smaller group for performances at smaller venues. Ms. Williams organized Sankofa, a 30 member ensemble selected from the Spirituals Project Choir. Sankofa (a name based on a West African adinkra symbol that illustrates the value of gaining wisdom from the past as a guide for the present) has been performing both locally and nationally, receiving enthusiastic praise. Sankofa recently performed for the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM) national convention in Colorado Springs, and the Heritage Music Festival in Baton Rouge, LA. The ensemble looks forward to future performances nationally and internationally as it continues to share the mission of The Spirituals Project. Ms. Williams has received many awards in recognition of her years of contribution to the education and encouragement of young people and her dedication to the preservation of African American musical tradition.
LaDamion Massey was born into a musical family. His first musical memories were of his father and twin brother singing gospel songs all over the city of Denver, and through their influence LaDamion began his own musical journey, learning to play cello and piano at a young age. These early experiences helped Mr. Massey fine tune the music skills he needed to focus on his primary instrument, his voice. At the age of 13, he started performing with Voices of Faith, a youth gospel choir. In high school and college, Massey performed in all the top ensembles as well as a few operas. But it was his love of jazz that moved him to audition for the acapella jazz sextet, Groove Society. In 2011, Mr. Massey graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a degree in Music Education. He is thrilled to be entering his first year as Director of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble at Metropolitan State University, and as Associate Choir Director of the Spirituals Project Choir.
Terry Jackson is a Denver native and comes from a rich musical heritage (his great-grandfather was a St. Louis jazz great, his aunt is an accomplished gospel and classical pianist). He enjoys several genres of music and has worked with various choral groups along the Front Range as soloist, conductor and accompanist. Mr. Jackson holds a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University and an MBA from the University of Denver, but he maintains that expression through song is his passion and purpose.