Dr. Rickey Payton, Sr., a voting member of the GRAMMY’s and 2004 Linowes Leadership Awards Recipient, is a prolific composer, arranger, producer, performer and teacher. His music scores include the Emmy Award-winning documentary “The New Cotton Club Revue” and NBC-TV’s “The Sunshine Store”, as well as the Annual Christmas production for the D. C. Department of Recreation and TV Channel 32. Rickey has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Africa, the former Soviet Union, Asia and the Caribbean. He has appeared at the International Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, gave command performances at the White House and the Vatican, performed for President Mitterand of France, Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Dr. Payton is the founder of The Urban Nation Academy for the Performing Arts in the heart of Silver Spring, Md. www.urbannationacademy.com. Also in keeping with his strong commitment to peace and social justice, Rickey is the co-founder, a former board member and musical director of City at Peace, an organization that uses the performing arts to teach tolerance and cross cultural understanding. City at Peace highlights include performances at the John F. Kennedy Center, Warner Theater and a featured story on “Nightline” with Ted Koppel. City at Peace was released as a 90-minute featured documentary on HBO, produced by Chris Koch, directed by Susan Koch with executive directors Barbra Streisand and Cis Corman of Barwood Films. Rickey shared his gift with the world when his song “Let’s Build A Bridge All Across America” was one of the highlights of President Clinton’s Second Inaugural Ceremony in January 1996.
In 1997, Rickey Payton, Sr. co-founded Urban Nation, Inc., along with Dr. Sheila Johnson Newman, and currently serves as the President and C.E.O. and is the Artistic Director of the nationally renowned Urban Nation H.I.P. – H.O.P. (Hope, Integrity, Power – Helping Our People) Choir. Rickey is a native Washingtonian and attended Howard University where he majored in music, business administration and studied entertainment law. He attended the Paris and Switzerland Conservatories of Music and presently serves as a consultant at Sidwell Friends School, where he taught choral music for over 15 years. Under the administration of former Mayor Marion Barry, Rickey was appointed a D.C. Commissioner of the Arts and Humanities. Rickey is happily married to Vernita Ann Payton and they have three children, Rickey, Jr., Darne.
Further, He also serves as vice president for the International Music Department for The Church Of God In Christ.Rickey serves as the Minister of Music at the New Bethel Church of God in Christ, where Bishop Neavelle A. Coles is the Pastor and the late Bishop Sherman S. Howard is the founder. He also serves as the State Minister of Music for the Washington, D.C. Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ and is the Executive Director of the Office of the President under the leadership of Professor Iris Stevenson, President of the International Music Department of the Church of God in Christ. In 2005, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Breakthrough Bible College. Rickey has worked with such superstars as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Celin Dion, Shania Twain, Opera Divas Harolyn Blackwell and Denyce Graves, P.Diddy, Karen Clark-Sheard, Yolanda Adams, Oprah Winfrey, Paul Simon, Maya Angelou, Vickie Winans and Bobby Jones as well as being a guest director for the 1999 Christmas Pageant of Peace (lighting of the Christmas tree) with Wayne Newton, Marty Stuart and the renowned Renee Fleming.
Alongside of these accomplishments, in October 2000, Rickey received the Distinguished Service Award from Dr. Dorothy I. Height and the National Council of Negro Women, produced and coordinated the 2002 DC Democratic Committee – “Get Out The Vote Rally, at the Lincoln Theatre and served as artistic director and conductor for “This Is Our World” Coca-Cola Event at the Library of Congress. In 2004, Rickey became a scholar for the Smithsonian Institute. Presently, he is the producer of the Annual Washington Post Music & Dance Scholarship Awards. His talents also include writing jingles for corporate and political clients such as: Mayor Anthony Williams’ “Do The Write Thing” Write-In campaign, AMERIGROUP – DC, the United Black Fun and The Washington Mystics female basketball team.