DEREK MELER, DIRECTOR
Derek’s love for gospel music began at the young age of three. Derek’s great-grandfather was the song leader at the church they attended in Tyler, Texas, and Derek would proudly stand at his side while he led the songs.
Around age 10, Derek developed a love for the Cathedral Quartet. He began attending singing school at the Texas Southern Gospel School of Music, where he met several southern gospel and convention music greats such as Harold Lane, Glenn Wilson and Tracey Phillips.
After graduating high school, Derek attended Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he studied vocal performance. While at MTSU, Derek performed all over Nashville and even sang with the Nashville Opera. He had the opportunity to work with many well-known folks in the classical music industry such as Stephen Schwartz, Mark Adamo and John Corigliano. He also worked in the southern gospel scene with artists such as Wayne Haun, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, and Janet Paschal.
In 2009, Derek joined the Stamps-Baxter staff as a private voice coach, and eventually, a music theory teacher. He has also taught at several different schools in seven different states, including working with the Choctaw Native Americans in Oklahoma.
We are extremely blessed to have Derek Meler as our music director. Derek looks forward to being a part of the Stamps-Baxter legacy. He loves that people who come to our school not only learn to sing, but also make lifelong friends from all over the world through the bond of this timeless music.
TRACEY PHILLIPS, PIANIST
Born into a musical family, Tracey’s love for music began at the young age of three. Her mother, Eloise, would listen as Tracey played along on the autoharp to the commercials on television, and noticed that she would change chords in the right places, at the right times, and it sounded great. That’s when she decided that it would be a good idea to get little Tracey enrolled in some piano lessons. By the age of four, she was playing piano, and by the age of nine, she was the church accompanist!
Tracey can’t remember when exactly she started attending singing school. Her mother taught at several singing schools and would take Tracey with her. She can remember attending singing schools in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. She specifically recalls attending the Zion Children’s’ Home Singing School in Knoxville, Tennessee, where one of her favorite teachers, Marty Parks, was an instructor.
After high school, Tracey decided to continue her education at Georgia State University, and later, Middle Tennessee State University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Music. She began working in Nashville in 1994, and has been featured in many different venues, including the popular Gaither Homecoming videos. In addition, she has recorded and/or arranged for a number of well-known Southern Gospel artists, including The Speers, The Perrys, The Nelons and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. She received a Dove Award for her own Christmas CD in 2014, and has been nominated for Dove Awards for her work on Daywind's instrumental series. She has recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague, Czech Republic, and she composed and performed original music for Billy, The Early Years, a full-length feature film recounting the early life of Billy Graham.
In 1986, Ben Speer started the Stamps-Baxter School of Music in Tennessee where Tracey taught music theory and accompanied group singing, and she has been with us ever since! She has also taught in music schools in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.
We are extremely blessed to have Tracey as a part of our faculty. Tracey is looking forward to seeing lots of familiar faces at school this year, and getting to know new ones. She is very excited to work alongside Derek Meler this year, and looks forward to the wonderful music that will be made this summer!
Kenna Turner West
Private Songwriting Lessons
Kenna is a multiple Dove-award winner, taking home the award for top songs including "Say Amen", "Revival", and "Small Town Someone". She has been named SGM Songwriter of the Year and AGM Songwriter of the Year.
Theory Teacher, Instrumentalists' Workshop
Jack is a songwriter, arranger, and quartet pianist who accompanied his first quartet at twelve years old. He's been hooked ever since on Gospel Music, and has spent decades teaching others the basics of the music he loves.