Faculty

Ben_100x121Ben Speer, founderAs music director of Gaither Homecoming videos, Ben Speer has been an indispensable part of the Homecoming phenomenon. He is a respected artist, publisher and producer. Ben spent most of the 20th century as lead singer for the Speer Family, one of the most influential family groups in the history of Gospel Music. During that time he appeared on more than 75 Speer Family albums. In 1950, Ben launched the Ben Speer Music company which published such great hits as "What a Day That Will Be," "I'm Standing on the Solid Rock," "Touring That City" and "I'll Walk Them Golden Stairs" which was recorded by Elvis Presley. As a record producer, he has produced albums by such artists as The Florida Boys, The Speers, Ivan Parker, Candy Christmas, Vern Jackson, Anthony Burger, The Weatherfords, and others. He also produces The Homeland Quartet, of which he is a member. In 1988, Ben established Ben Speer's Stamps-Baxter School of Music. Ben is a member of both the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame and The Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Jack_100x100Jack ClarkNow retired, he was pianist and orchestra director at his home church for 44 years as well as pianist and arranger for the Premiers from 1990 through 2008. Currently, he is traveling to various locations for participation in some of the singing conventions he had to miss when he was working full-time at the church; he is continuing to teach each summer in three different singing schools, catching up on his writing, doing some free-lance gospel music editorial work and accepting invitations to play in different places. He is also becoming involved in participation and production of some of the currently very popular Red Back Hymnal (Church Hymnal) singings. His musical travels have taken him into 42 of our 50 United States and several foreign countries.
Freddie_100x100Freddie EdwardsFreddie Edwards holds a degree in music as well as a Master's Degree in Elementary Education. Since 1981 he has taught elementary music at Poteau School in Poteau, OK. In 1989 he was honored with the Teacher of the Year Award from the Poteau Public School System. He has also been an active teacher at Ben Speer's Stamps-Baxter School of Music every summer since 1991. In 1998 he was added to the staff of teachers at the Texas Southern Gospel Music School. He started his own publishing company in 1998. Several professional groups have recorded his songs. In addition to teaching theory , Freddie also directs the Stamps-Baxter kids.
Tracey_Phillips_100x100Tracey PhillipsTracey is well-known throughout the South as a pianist, teacher and clinician. She started studying piano at the age of four and was a church accompanist at the age of eleven. She studied at Georgia State University and earned her degree in Theory/Composition at Middle Tennessee State University. Tracey has lived and worked in Nashville since 1994 and has been featured on 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 and, most recently, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. She 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. She composed original music for and performed for the movie "Billy, The Early Years," a full-length feature film recounting the early years of Billy Graham. Tracey has taught and accompanied for many years at Ben Speer's Stamps-Baxter School of Music and the Alabama School of Gospel Music. She has also taught at the North Georgia and Texas schools. She has recorded two solo CDs and two duet CDs with her mother, Eloise, performing on piano and organ. Her solo piano arrangements are published by Word Entertainment.
Derek_100x100Derek MelerDerek is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. He grew up singing in church and has a profound love for Gospel music. He is an active solo performer who has appeared with the Nashville Opera, Symphony, and Chamber Singers as well as the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra. He teaches in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and also is on the faculty of several singing schools. Derek sings with the Gospel Heritage Quartet and travels to Broken Bow Oklahoma during the summer to teach shape note gospel music to the Choctaw Indians.
Kenna_100x100Kenna WestKenna Turner West is a three-time SGM/AGM Songwriter of the Year, five-time Dove Award nominee, and two-time "Song of the Year" winner, penning chart-topping songs such as "Calvary's Cry," "Revival," "Ask Me Why," "A Little Bit of Sunshine," and "Voice In The Desert." For thirty years, Kenna has blended music, devotional teaching, and humor into a ministry that has reached around the world, serving alongside Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell at venues ranging from The Pentagon to NASCAR chapels to the local church. These days, the author and certified counselor spends much of her time writing for Daywind Music Publishing. Her songs have been recorded by artists such as Jason Crabb, The Booth Brothers, Karen Peck and New River, Wes Hampton, The Martins, Jeff and Sheri Easter, Gordon Mote, Brian Free and Assurance, Legacy Five, The Talleys, The Collingsworth Family, The Hoppers, Gold City, Adam Crabb, The Bowling Family, Ivan Parker, Sisters, Aaron and Amanda Crabb, Marty Raybon, The Freemans, and many more. For more information about Kenna and her ministry, visit her website: KennaTurnerWest.com
Leah_RosaNell_100x67Leah PowellLeah has been involved with BSSBSM since the very beginning. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama where she marched with the famous "Million Dollar Band" and successfully completed a Music Therapy degree. While attending school at Alabama, Leah sang with the University Singers. She is the granddaughter of Rosa Nell Speer Powell and makes her home in Springfield, TN. Leah will be teaching theory at our school and we are pleased to have her as a part of our faculty.
Mike_McElravy_100x100Mike McElravyIn addition to his years playing guitar and pedal steel with The Speer Family, Mike also toured with The Blue Ridge Quartet. After leaving full-time employment in the Southern Gospel field, he remained actively involved in recording. His guitar, pedal steel, harmonica and dobro have contributed to many Southern Gospel projects over the past 35 years. Mike is delighted to be returning as a member of the 2017 school faculty to offer instruction in guitar, bass guitar, pedal steel and dobro.
Michael WelchMichael Brian Welch is a tenor vocalist, composer, and artistic advisor in the central Kentucky region. He is currently a choral conducting graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky University, where he is a member of the EKU University Singers, Chamber Singers, Concert Choir & Opera Workshop. Welch holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance and composition from Eastern Kentucky University. He has experience as a tenor & baritone vocalist, voice instructor, composer, music minister, actor, conductor, writer, instrumentalist & stage manager. Regarding composing, his works include music for chamber ensembles, solo voice, and many choral works. As a singer, Michael has experience in, opera, musical theatre, art song and gospel. We are pleased to welcome Michael to our Faculty as our 2017 Choir Director.
Sue DuffieldSue Duffield, singer/humorist/speaker/author, joins our 2017 Faculty and will be sharing humor, wisdom and just a little insanity garnered from her 42 years in ministry during our morning devotions, in music and in music-ministry focused social media workshops. She will talk candidly about her new book, Suebiquitous: (A Humorous Travelog of an Unfiltered Saint), “It’s an all over the place stage-to-page journey only God could orchestrate. It’s a hilarious adventure that will have you laughing, crying and experiencing the supernatural.” Sue’s ministry is going strong today, bringing her faith-filled music, humor and spirit-led message to a whole new generation of women. This Jersey girl transplant lives in Hendersonville Tennessee, rides a Harley, is an avid social media junkie and is foremost an advocate for abused women and children worldwide. Sue’s love for Jesus is absolutely contagious. Visit her website at SueDuffield.com .
Jeff Duffield​Jeff Duffield joins our our 2017 Faculty as a piano instructor and arranger/band leader. Jeff is a keyboardist with over forty-five years experience in recording studio work and stage performance. As a trained classical pianist, he is known for arrangements and orchestrations in the venues of jazz, country and gospel music. Studying over eight years of classical piano along with arranging in orchestration at Berklee School of Music, Jeff's greatest strength is versatility, which ranges from traditional scoring to the latest in MIDI technology. He is the "musician's musician" and the consummate accompanist. He is looking forward to sharing hard-earned wisdom from his music ministry, studio and performing experience with the students at this year's school.