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Cordara Harper

Acclaimed and versatile musician Cordara Harper has taken over as director of the Grambling State University Choir and has planned an event to begin his new role in a new academic year in a celebratory fashion.

Harper serves as an Assistant Professor of Music Education, Vocal Coordinator, and Director of Choirs at GSU, where he conducts the University Choir and Vocal Ensemble and teaches music and music education courses.

As part of the GSU Choir’s 75th anniversary year celebration, one of the group’s first major presentations under Harper’s leadership will be a program titled “Be Optimistic: A Celebration of 75 Years of Singing Our Songs” which will start at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 in GSU’s Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.

Currently a doctoral candidate completing a Ph.D. in Music Education with a cognate in Choral Conducting, Harper’s research interests include culturally-sustaining leadership practices, choral conducting, music teacher evaluation, vocal pedagogy, arts entrepreneurship, music psychology, and equity in music education.

Harper fills the voice left by the departure of Natorshau Davis, who directed the GSU from 2012 until this summer.

A native of Cove City, North Carolina, Harper has served as an instructor, teaching assistant, research assistant, and choral graduate assistant at the University of Memphis. His conducting experiences include operating as one of the featured conductors for the University Singers Fall 2021 concert at the University of Memphis and conducting ensembles at West Craven High School in North Carolina.

While at the University of Memphis, Harper performed as a baritone with the University Singers, Voices of Inspiration, and the Tenor and Bass Choir. He completed the Master of Music degree and post-Masters Certificate in School Administration at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Master of Science degree at Amberton University, the Bachelor of Music degree (magna cum laude) at North Carolina Central University, and the Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Fayetteville State University. Harper is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and served as the secretary and treasurer of the Theta Rho Chapter at The University of Memphis.

Harper has presented at the American Musicological South-East Chapter Fall 2020 meeting, Society for American Music 2021 Conference, the February 2021 Texas Music Educators Association Clinic, and the February 2021 CMS- Southern Chapter Regional Conference.

In addition, he served as an inaugural facilitator and panel guest at the 2021 Sankofa Songs Summer Institute.

Harper was featured in the National Association for Music Education’s Teaching Music publication in January 2022 and co-presented at the 35th International Society for Music Education World Conference in July 2022.

Holding public school teaching licenses in school administration, K-12 music teaching, psychology, and business in North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi, Harper is an experienced educator who served as a K-8 general music teacher at Global Scholars Academy and as a high school choral director at West Craven High School and Cleveland High School in North Carolina.

Harper’s choirs have earned superb ratings, and he was rated a distinguished teacher in every category while teaching at Cleveland High School. Harper has served as an instructional leader and mentor teacher.

Additionally, he received the JCPS/Wells Fargo Foundation Certified Employee Award in April 2021. Also, at Cleveland High School, he served as the Tri-M Music Honor Society and the Sophomore Student Council co-faculty advisor. He was awarded grants for the choral music program and frequently partnered with teachers, community members, and stakeholders. Harper is the founder of Cordara Harper Music Solutions, LLC, and has served as a coach, teaching private and group voice and piano lessons.

Having completed level 2 Kodály training at the Indiana University Summer Kodály Institute and level 1 Orff training at the University of Memphis Orff Summer Institute, his professional memberships include the National Association for Music Education, American Choral Directors Association, College Music Society, American Musicological Society-South East, Society of American Music, Society for Arts Entrepreneurship Education, Organization of American Kodaly Educators, International Society for Music Education, National Association of Negro Musicians, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

In addition to his academic background, Harper is a performer and recently served as the music director at Burdette United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and has established himself as a clinician skilled in choral, gospel music, and music of the African diaspora.