Dr. Herbert Vincent-Ricardo Pea’dro Jones
Director of The Heritage Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh since its founding, Dr. Jones is one of the nation's foremost figures in choral conducting and pedagogy and an expert in the intersection between theology and musical expression. A Southern transplant to Pennsylvania, Dr. Jones has cultivated a broad-based, multifaceted career as a choral conductor, educator, operatic and oratorio bass, liturgical dancer, orator and pastor, teaching and performing across the United States and Europe.
Dr. Jones holds numerous degrees: B.S. in Music, M.S. in Counseling Psychology, M.Mus. in Choral Conducting/Music Education, M.Divinity (M.Div.) in Sacred Music, Dance & Drama, D.M.A. in Music, Choral Conducting, Performance Pedagogy & Choral Music Education, and has done Ph.D Studies in Ethnomusicology. Dr. Jones has taught in the Public Schools of Mississippi (grades 6-12), the Private High School sector (The Piney Woods School, Mississippi, The Neighborhood Academy-Pittsburgh) and colleges in universities in North Dakota, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi, respectively.
Dr. Jones is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Music Educators National Conference, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Tau Beta Sigma, and the National Guild of Sacred Dancers. He has published articles in the Mississippi ACDA/Mississippi Music Teachers Journal, the Academic Division of GMWA, the Milestone Christian Bookstore Newsletter, and several others.
Dr. Jones is listed in: Who's Who Among American Teachers (dual listing); Distinguished Church Musicians In America, Outstanding Personalities of the America, Marquise International Who's Who, Residential Scholars, Choral Scholar, (University of Mississippi); in 2011, 50 Men of Excellence (selected by the New Pittsburgh Courier), in 2013, one of 5 men selected as “Men of Distinction” recognized by the Rachel Randall Education Ministry of the Pentecostal Temple Church of God In Christ, Pittsburgh, PA., and several others.
Dr. Jones is considered a leading authority on the music of Moses George Hogan. His Doctoral Dissertation, “THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN SPIRITUAL AND GOSPEL SONG: THE MUSICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF MOSES GEORGE HOGAN, COMPOSER AND ARRANGER”, is the only definitive work on the life, music, compositional style of the composer.
An Ordained Minister of Music, Dr. Jones is Executive Administrative Assistant to the Academic Dean, Academic Division, of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc. (GMWA), and sits on the Boards of The Simmons Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (Columbus, OH), the Afro-American Music Institute (AAMI) (Pittsburgh, PA), ‘All Nations Dance’ (Pittsburgh, PA), the Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA), Professionals for Christ, Inc. (Birmingham, AL), and RAISE Academy (Columbus, OH), and is on the faculty of Community College of Allegheny County, Allegheny Campus – Department of Music.
Dr. Jones continues to maintain an active schedule conducting seminars and workshops, guest conducting, and adjudicating choral festivals and competitions.
Singer, songwriter, vocal coach, choir director, actress and recording artist, Rev. Nicol “Nikki” Porter is the Minister of Music and Head of Staff at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, a cross-cultural, inner-city congregation in Pittsburgh’s East End. She has provided oversight of the church’s music department for over eighteen years, serving as worship leader, director of the adult and youth praise teams, children’s and mass choirs and private voice teacher in the church’s after-school music program, The Judah Project, which she established in 2005.
In addition to her full-time vocational music ministry, Rev. Porter travels throughout the United States and in Europe singing and teaching Gospel music, including the annual Gospel Connection conference in Assisi, Italy, where she and fellow clinicians teach and conduct a 350-voice mass choir comprised of singers from all over Italy. Here at home, she serves as the Lift Every Voice Unity Choir director for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, performs solo and with her band at events, such as Juneteenth, the Pittsburgh Black Music Festival and this past summer, Pittsburgh Prays – the last event at Heinz Field (now Acrisure Stadium). Rev. Porter also teaches music workshops and serves as guest Minister of Music for major events, including the inaugural services last fall of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s first African American president, Dr. Asa J. Lee. Recording artist Nikki Porter’s music can be heard via digital outlets, and she just completed music recordings for the soon-to-be-released CHURCH (Congregational Healers Uniting to Restore Health) project with the University of Pittsburgh.
Not only is Rev. Porter a music minister and recording artist, but as an activist, she has served and marched locally and in Washington, D.C. with the Black Political Empowerment Project/Election Protection, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and has volunteered with food distributions in collaboration with the Wilkinsburg Free Store, National Heart Association and East Liberty Family Health Care Center. In November 2019, the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh named Rev. Porter as their Racial Justice Awards Common Ground Award recipient for her work in racial reconciliation.
Rev. Porter holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she also studied piano, jazz voice with the late Maureen Budway and founded Duquesne’s Gospel Choir, the Gospel Joynotes. Her private music studies include flute, piano with Dr. Alton Merrell, and classical voice with Eugene Perry. She also studied at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Rev. Porter is a member and elder of Potter’s House Ministries where she was ordained in 2008 by Bishop Otis L. Carswell. Prior to that, she was a member of Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ under the leadership of the late Bishop Loran E. Mann for sixteen years where she was called to ministry, licensed as an Evangelist, served in the music ministry and as teen Bible study teacher.
Rev. Porter has been married to the love of her life, Pastor Raymond Porter, Jr. for sixteen years and is the proud mother of their fourteen-year-old son, Raymond Porter, III.
Director of The Rodman Street Baptist Church Choir
Alton M. Mitchell is a native of North Carolina and serves as the Minister of Worship and Arts for the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church. As a young man, Alton became fluent in music. By age 5, he was playing guitar and singing with his mom, dad, brother and sister in their family gospel group known as the Mitchell's. Having a desire to go further in music, Alton was trained in formal music, learned multiple instruments and began playing for his schools (high school and college) as well as local churches.. Now, Alton plays 14 instruments which include low brass instruments ( tuba baritone, trombone) as well as several woodwind instruments.
Alton is a proud graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1998,2006) where he majored in History (concentration in antebellum slave history) and Science ( biology) . While at UNC, Alton played in the band (tuba) and for the UNC Black Student Movement (BSM) gospel choir as keyboardist and music director. Alton's marching band career was short-lived as he earned a spot on UNC's basketball team.
Upon graduation, Alton taught middle school chorus in the Wilson county school system at the Sallie B. Howard School For The Performing Arts. Alton was also a part of the local symphony orchestra as a tuba player/ pianist and later a member of the board. While in North Carolina, Alton's church choirs gained notoriety for their harmony and smooth gospel genre flexibility. In 2006, Alton led the Jackson Chapel First Baptist Church choir to Washington D.C. to sing for members of the United States Congress at the CBC legislative weekend. This honor has been bestowed upon very few music entities and included meeting the late John Lewis. Later that year Alton began leading the city of Wilson in their MLK music celebrations as well as the theatre of the American south ( a cross cultural program offering traditional and contemporary gospel music to audiences across the southern United States). In 2007, Alton was inducted into the Eastern North Carolina Gospel Music trails by the North Carolina Dept of Cultural Resources for his integral work with black gospel music throughout the state. Alton has played for and taught choirs for artists around the country which include: Shirley Caesar, Dorothy Norwood, Byron Cage, Dr. Thomas L Walker, Luther Barnes, Mauette Brown Clark, Pastor Marvin Sapp, and many others. Also during this time, Alton became the first African American male museum curator in the NC Dept of Cultural Resources as the Manager/curator at Historic Stagville Plantation in Durham.
Currently, Alton teaches music workshops and clinics all across the country. For the past 5 years, Alton has worked for the Yamaha music company (Yamaha Music and Wellness institute) as a music coach and trainer for their Gospel music project. This program takes an in depth look at health disparities in the African American Community and uses music to address them. Currently Alton is working with multiple churches across the country to furnish Yamaha instruments at no cost to them as well as train their congregations on how to use gospel music as therapy. This will aid in weight loss, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses. In 2020, this study was printed worldwide in Mind, Body, and Medicine as a first of its kind medical study that is already changing lives.
In June 2018, Alton answered his call and took his ministry a step further. Speaking from the title "when leaders worship" Minister Alton received his preaching license. He was licensed in the same pulpit his beloved late mother preached her initial sermon years prior. In 2021, Minister Alton was recognized by the Pittsburgh Courier with the “men of excellence " for his community and music work. Out of all of his accomplishments, Minister Alton counts being a child of God, a husband, and father as his highest honors.
Minister Alton is a married to Monica Lynch and they have one son Alexander Michael.