Our Faculty

  • Kortland Whalum

    Senior Academy Vocal Instructor

    Kortland Whalum is singer, songwriter, and actor. Upon receiving a Bachelor of Arts-Music Degree from Morehouse College in 2007, Kortland relocated to Brooklyn, New York where he continued his musical journey.

  • Adrianna Christmas

    Director/Junior Academy Vocal Instructor

    Adrianna Christmas is a vocalist raised in Gary, IN. She obtained her Masters degree in Arts Administration from the prestigious School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

  • Harry T. Cash III

    Program Manager

    Harry T. Cash III is the Program Manager for the Stax Music Academy, an internationally recognized music enrichment experience that prepares the next generation of Soul Communicators.

  • Melody Barham

    Partnerships & Community Engagement Manager

    Melody E. Barham is a native of Gary, IN. During her undergraduate career, she combined her love for music and culture to pursue a bachelor’s degree in African American and African Diaspora Studies and a minor in Ethnomusicology.

  • Stephen Lee

    Stephen Lee

    Assistant Jazz Instrumental Music Instructor/Piano Instructor

    Stephen Lee began playing the piano at age eight and has been using his abilities to delight audiences everywhere ever since. After attending The University of Tennessee in Knoxville and studying with legendary jazz pianist, Donald Brown, Lee moved to New York to serve as Musical Director for Manhattan’s Crenshaw Christian Center under the leadership of Dr. Fredrick Price.

  • Victor Sawyer

    Junior Academy Instrumental Instructor

    Victor Sawyer is a trombonist raised in Memphis, TN. He attended the University of Memphis and the Manhattan School of Music where he graduated with a Masters in Jazz Performance.

  • Isaac Daniel

    Audio Production and Engineering Instructor/Sound Engineer

    With a foundation of knowledge gained from studying at the Baltimore City School for the Arts, The University of Memphis and Berklee School of Music, Isaac Daniel officially began his journey as an engineer and producer as a teenager.

  • Mary Robinson


    Mary Robinson is a native of Memphis, TN. While studying to obtain her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Tennessee at Martin, Mary worked with the Communication and broadcasting department commentating the school’s and local athletic events.

  • Paul McKinney

    Instrumental Music Director/Jazz Studies Coordinator

    Born into a musical family, Mr. McKinney began playing the drum set by age 3 and learned several auxiliary percussion instruments during that time. Taught by his father, who is now a retired band director and organist, Paul quickly moved to electric bass and piano by age 7 and continued his musical growth on those instruments until he decided to play trumpet by age 12. Paul developed into one of the best high school trumpeters in the state of Tennessee in high school, earning 1st chair in the All-State Jazz band in 1987. Mr. McKinney went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from the University of Memphis, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Recording Industry Management from Middle Tennessee State University.

  • Christopher Bounds II

    Premier Percussion Instructor

    Christopher Patrick Bounds II a.k.a Chris Pat is a professional touring musician, from Memphis, TN. He has toured with national recording artists such as ZZ Ward, New Kids on the Block, and Toni Braxton. Chris Pat is the musical director for the Mid South’s #1 party band, Memphis Soul Revue and Cummings Street Missionary Baptist Church, where he also serves as a youth minister. Additionally, Chris Pat is a percussion instructor for Stax Music Academy and the proud owner of Chris Pat’s Drum Corner where he offers private drum lessons.

  • Charlton Johnson

    Assistant Rhythm & Blues Instrumental Music Instructor/ Jazz Guitar Instructor

    Although he finished the University Of Memphis in 1980 with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Charlton Johnson has been active in the Memphis, Tennessee music scene since high school. But, in order to play guitar in night clubs at the ripe old age of 14, he had to first lie about his age to both fellow band members and the night club owners.

  • Leslie Jones

    Production Manager

    Leslie Jones is a practitioner and an instructor of expressive arts, acting, film and theatre production. She received formal training from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in England before obtaining an MBA with a central focus in entertainment. In addition to her passion and belief of creative youth development, Leslie brings to Stax Music Academy her experience as a production/stage manager, director, wardrobe designer and sfx makeup artist. A few of her credits include FBI Takedown, Ice Cold Killers, God’s and Generals and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.