Biographical Sketch of the Rev. Raymond Wise, Ph.D.
Rev. Raymond Wise, Ph. D., a native of Baltimore, Md., is the son of C. Dexter Wise Jr. and Rev. Julia Virginia Wise. He began his musical career at the age of three, singing gospel music with his family singing group “The Wise Singers.” Rev. Wise was educated through the Baltimore City Public School System and graduated second out of 500 from the Paul Laurence Dunbar Community High School in 1979.
He then went on to Denison University (Granville, Ohio), where he reorganized the Black Student Union Choir, started the Black Student Union Ensemble and Dance company and earned a B.F.A. in Music. From there, he went on to study Opera, Art, and German at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria, then on to study 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. Rev. Wise was awarded a Graduate Fellowship from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he earned his Masters in Music Education and Ohio Teacher’s Certification. He also completed a Doctorate in Music Education at the Ohio State University, for which his dissertation topic is “Defining African American Gospel Music by Tracing its Historical and Musical Development from 1900 to 2000.” Dr. Wise anticipates the pending release of his new book entitled, “What Happened to Gospel Music?” published by Cascade Press.
Rev. Wise began his acting career at the age of 9 when he played the role of Benjamin in a regional theater production of ‘The Me Nobody Knows”. He sang the role of Amahl in Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” As a teen, he served as a chorus member and soloist for the Baltimore Opera Company’s education outreach program and performed nationally and abroad with the Paul Laurence Dunbar Chamber Singers, under the direction of Hugh Carey. Wise has performed as a countertenor in such works as Handel’s Messiah and Leslie Burrs’ work entitled “Declaration of Joy,” written for gospel chorus, soloist, and orchestra. Wise performed the role of Marcus in the Opera Columbus premiere of Susan Kander’s opera entitled “Somebody’s Children” and performed the solo for several of Copland’s Old American Songs with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and served as a guest soloist, conductor, or composer with the Nashville, Littleton, Akron, Ithaca College, and Czech National Symphonies.
Raymond Wise has served as a church minister of music for more than 40 years. He has also served as the musical director for more than 30 choirs and has prepared choirs to perform for national recording artists such as Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Yolanda Adams, Tramaine Hawkins, Wintley Phipps, and others. Wise served as the Chorus Master for the world premiere of the Opera Columbus Production of Leslie Burrs’ “Vanqui” and Assistant Chorus Master for the Opera Columbus Production of “Aida.” Wise served as chorus master for Leslie Burrs’ “Declaration of Joy” and the Columbus Symphony production of Hannibal Lokumbe’s “African Portraits.” Wise also served as the musical director for Carlyle Brown’s production of “Yellow Moon.” Wise served as the Co-Musical director for “Harlem Hallelujah,” a live Sunday morning service at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.
As a composer, Wise has penned more than 670 compositions that have been performed and recorded by local, national, and international recording artists. Numerous national music publishers publish Dr. Wise’s works, including GIA, Hinshaw Music, Hal Leonard, Abingdon Press, MusicSpoke, and the United Methodist Publishing House. His works are in hymnals such as “Zion Still Sings,” the “Africana Hymnal” and the “Lead Me Guide Me” Catholic Hymnal. In 2003, Dr. Wise released the Raymond Wise Choral Sheet Music Series, through which more than 200 of his Gospel, Spiritual, and Choral arrangements are available.
Dr. Wise has performed his compositions at Carnegie Hall and other major halls throughout the world, including the Kennedy Center and National Cathedral (Washington, DC.), Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Smetana Hall (Prague, Czech Republic), Shenzhen Grand Theater (Shenzhen, China), Chamsil Gymnasium Olympic Stadium (Seoul, Korea).
Some of his notable works include “Afro-American Suite” written for Bass-Baritone and Chorus. Wise co-wrote the script for “God What Color Is Trouble” with director Ron Pitts and has written the music for more than 20 original musical theater productions, including Dwight Collin’s “Dark Symphony,” the Samuel S. Davis production of “The Snow Queen,” and the Amera-flora production of “Listen With Your Heart.”
Wise composed the musical score for the children’s opera “Barefoot.” Barefoot, originally composed to be performed by Opera Columbus’ educational outreach program, has also been performed by The Children’s Theater Company of Winston-Salem and Winston-Salem State University in which Dr. Maya Angelou performed the role of narrator.
In 2004 Wise released an anthology of Spirituals entitled “21 Spirituals for the 21st Century” which features 23 of his concert spiritual arrangements. This anthology has received national and international acclaim. Since releasing the 21 Spiritual’s collection, Dr. Wise has received commissions and invitations to compose original works for the Penn State University Spiritual’s Festival and Winterfest, The American Spiritual’s Ensemble, The AME Congress 145th Anniversary Celebration, the International Spiritual’s Festival held in honor of Moses Hogan in Prague, the Czech Republic in the summer of 2008, the Springfield Mass Unity Festival, the Trenton Children’s Chorus, the Blooming Songs Children’s music project, American Choral Director’s Association, and others.
Raymond Wise has studied ballet, jazz, modern, tap, African, ethnic, and experimental dance. He performed on the East Coast with the Baltimore Dance Theater Company, Baltimore, Md. under artistic director Eva Anderson, and on the West Coast with the EMBAJE Dance Ensemble from San Francisco State University under artistic director Dr. Alberta Rose. Since then, Wise has taught and instructed dance at The Samuel S. Davis Youth Complex for the Performing Arts and the King Complex for the Visual and Performing Arts, both in Columbus, Ohio.
Wise has served as choreographer for many theatrical productions and instructed tap dance and liturgical dance at the Center for the Gospel Arts and liturgical dance companies. Wise was honored by the City of Columbus, Ohio for his contribution to dance with a portrait on the Long Street Cultural Wall, a 60-panel display of artists within the Columbus, Ohio area.
Rev. Wise has served as a church musician for more than 40 years. He has appeared on radio and television, recorded 25 albums, performed with opera singers, orchestras, dance companies, and professional recording groups. He has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia as a singer, pianist, composer, teacher, lecturer, dancer, choreographer, and choral conductor for festivals and honor choirs.
Rev. Wise’s goal is to use his education and experience to establish an accredited “Center For The Gospel Arts” in which “Gospel Music” and the “Gospel Arts” can be elevated, instructed, and promoted. To this end, he founded and is President of Raise Productions (1985), a gospel music production company (Columbus, Ohio).
Raise has also developed performing groups throughout the United States and Europe, won Gospel Music Excellence Awards, produced musical reviews, plays, concerts, and recorded several albums. Several of the Raise groups are national recording groups who have recorded on both the Raise Record label and various national gospel record labels. These groups include Raise Choir, Family, Raise Mass Choir, and the Raise Kids.
Raise established “The Center For The Gospel Arts” in 1989 to provide educational training for gospel artists and the community. He has developed specialized curriculums in the gospel arts and texts for this school, which offers numerous classes per week, and has served over 5000 since its opening. Raise has partnered with various seminaries and colleges throughout Ohio and the United States to develop gospel arts certificate programs.
Dr. Wise developed and implemented courses in African-American Gospel Music, Spirituals, Worship, and Gospel choirs at Denison University (Granville, Ohio), The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio), Trinity Lutheran Seminary (Columbus, Ohio), Trevecca University (Nashville, Tennessee), Ashland Theological Seminary (Bethlehem House of Bread Program, Akron, Ohio) and Columbus School for Girls. He served as the Co-Director of the Hampton University Minister’s Conference Choir and Organist Guild Academy that provides intensive training in African American sacred music for college students preparing for service as church music ministers. He also served as the Co-Director and Director of the Hampton University Minister’s Conference Choir and Organist Guild. His knowledge of both the gospel and classical music genres has enabled him to serve as a consultant and clinician in academic and gospel music settings across the nation and abroad. This ability has enabled him to bridge the musical gap between the gospel and classical worlds.
Dr. Wise has received many honors and awards. He was honored as one of many artists to be featured on the Long Street Memorial Bridge in Columbus, Ohio (2014) for his contributions to the Columbus Arts community. Dr. Wise was awarded a distinguished teaching award from Denison University (2006) and is the recipient of the Indiana University James E. Mumford Excellence in Extraordinary Teaching Award (2021). He recently received the IU Presidential Bicentennial Medal (2021) for his contributions the arts, music, and live performance at Indiana University.
Wise is also a member of the national faculty of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) and the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), Ohio Choral Director’s Association (OCDA), National Association for Music Educators (NAfME formerly MENC), and Ohio Music Educator’s Association (OMEA). Wise served as the Ethnic and American Music Repertoire and Standards Chair for the American Choral Director’s Association Central Division and has presented at regional and national conferences.
Dr. Wise has collaborated with several colleges across the country to establish accredited online certificate programs in African American Gospel and Sacred music to establish programs that will allow practicing gospel musicians and traditional music majors to received academic training and credentials in gospel music.
Dr. Wise currently serves on Indiana University’s faculty in Bloomington, Indiana, where he serves as Professor of Practice in the African American African Diaspora Studies department and instructs courses in African American music. He serves as the Associate Director of the African American Arts Institute, an IU division devoted to African American music and art’s perpetuation and performance. Dr. Wise conducts the African American Choral Ensemble (http://www.indiana.edu/~aaai/aace.shtml) recently featured in the Emmy and Telly Award Winning PBS documentary film “Amen: Music of the Black Church.”
Of all of the accomplishments and experiences, the most outstanding aspect of Rev. Wise’s life is that he is “saved” (a born-again Christian). Therefore, he has also committed to “Raising the Word of God Higher,” so that lost souls will be led to Christ. Moreover, as a result of this commitment, Rev. Wise received and accepted the call to the Gospel Ministry and was licensed by the Shiloh Baptist Church in 1989. Rev. Wise was ordained in 2007 and presently serves as an Associate Minister at Faith Ministries Interdenominational Church, where Dr. C. Dexter Wise III is the pastor. Dr. Wise is married to Dawnne Wise and has one son, Ryan Wise.
So, you see Rev. Raymond Wise in not merely a man with many talents, or a Musician with many accomplishments, or even a Man of great vision, but also an anointed Minister of the gospel. So as he comes forth to minister, his prayer and our prayer are that his ministry will bless you.