Modern Music Faculty
MODERN MUSIC FACULTY
Drums Division Head, Memphis campus
Assistant Professor of Drums
901.381.3939, ext. 213
M. Mus. Jazz & Studio Music (in progress), University of Memphis
B.A. Musical Performance & Professional Practice, University of Coventry
Certificate in Contemporary Drumming, Nexus Music School, Coventry, UK
National Diploma in Popular Music, Norwich City College
- Alistair Griffin (2009-2012)
- Imagine Theater (2011-2013)
- Adidas Olympic clothing launch: Performed with “The Urban Drummers” (2011)
- BBC’s Top Gear (2008)
- Amino: Band, Spit Kingdom Records (2005-2008)
- The Departure EMI (2004-2008)
- Baptist Alliance World Congress (2005)
Simon joined the Visible Music College faculty in the Fall of 2012 after ten years teaching and performing in the UK. Once turning professional at the age of twenty, Simon has gone onto perform on major UK tours and festivals, film and video game soundtracks, top #40 hits, and television.
Artists and bands include: The Departure, Alistair Griffin, Amino, BBC’s Top Gear Roadshow, Dweeb, RKO Price, Imagine Theatre & many others. Career highlights include Head of Drums at Nexus Music College and performing with the Baptist World Congress band for speaker & former US President Jimmy Carter.
He is also a proud endorsee of Remo Drum Heads, Kick Port, and Protection Racket Cases.
Simon lives in Memphis with his wife Claire and two children.
Dr. John H. Johnson
Worship Leadership Division Head, Memphis campus
Assistant Professor of Modern Music, Worship Leadership
901.381.3939, ext. 215
D.R.E. (Emphasis Sacred Music), Friends International Christian University
B.M.E., Eastern New Mexico University
- Pastor of Covenant of Grace Ministries, Monrovia, CA (2008-2015).
- Pastor of New Covenant Church, St. Louis, MO (1982-1994).
- Part of leadership for “At His Table”, a group of pastors in the Los Angeles area who gather on a bi-monthly basis.
- Wrote and produced three albums, “I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes”, “To the Holy One”, and “You Are the Mighty God.”
- He has written over 600 songs.
John was born and raised in New Mexico. He attended Eastern New Mexico University on a vocal scholarship. Having taught choir and guitar in the public school for 5 years, Dr. Johnson then went into full-time ministry, being ordained in St. Louis as a worship leader and pastor of New Covenant Church from 1982-1994. While there, he co-founded Dayspring School of the Arts, which now has 700 students. During his years in St. Louis, he also taught worship seminars in the U.S. and the U.K. He has also taught “Worship the King” seminars, training worship leaders and worship teams in the U.S.
For the past four years, John has taught “Theology of Worship” intensive course at Visible Music College’s sister school in Germany, SchallWerkStadt. He has a passion for worship, mentoring and training, and writing new songs.
John and Martha have been married since 1972, and have four grown children and nine grandchildren.
Vocal Division, Memphis campus
Assistant Professor of Modern Music, Vocals
B.A. Music, Vocal Performance, Fisk University
Sarenina is a native of Memphis. She studied at Fisk University in Nashville under Ms. Valija Mellins-Bumbulis. Sarenina specializes in proper technique, vocal health, and all aspects of performance. She was an itinerate vocalist in Nashville, singing at various churches and musical events. She has also participated in multiple ensembles throughout her 10+ year career.
Sarenina is a former soloist and member of the world renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers© under the direction of Dr. Paul Kwami. She has traveled to numerous cities in the U.S. performing Negro Spirituals and art songs; performed in concerts with great artists such as Keb Mo, Wynonna Judd, Michael McDonald, Everett Miller, and Jonathan Winstead.
After her collegiate studies, Sarenina has been actively serving in ministry and teaching private vocal lessons in her home studio. In addition to being a part of the Visible family, Sarenina is also a worship leader at Divine Life Church located in Memphis.
Commercial Woodwinds Division, Memphis campus
Adjunct Professor of Modern Music, Commercial Woodwinds
Honorary Doctorate, Texas Southern University
M.A. Religion, Memphis Theological Seminary
B.A. Music, Texas Southern University
Soulful, passionate, stirring . . . . These are the words most often used to describe Kirk’s music. Forged from his Memphis, (TN) gospel roots and his 1980s initiation into the thriving Houston, TX nightclub scene, Kirk’s big, rich tenor sound is unmistakably his. The 80s were highlighted by Kirk’s stepping out of his blossoming sideman role and forming his own band. It was there that Kirk ultimately developed both his “voice” and songwriting in the crucible of the local club scene––especially at a rooftop club called Cody’s. It was also in Houston where jazz pianist Bob James “discovered” him and brought him on tour, which led to five successful albums with Columbia Records, including Cache, Kirk’s first #1 album. As well, Kirk and Bob received a Grammy nomination for their collaboration album, Joined at the Hip.
After moving to Los Angeles, Kirk became an in demand session player for top artists like, Barbara Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Larry Carlton, Quincy Jones and most notably, Whitney Houston, amongst many others. It’s his sax heard on the mega-hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Kirk soon followed that career high point with his phenomenal hit album released on Warner Bros. Records, For You, perhaps the most successful of over 25 solo recordings to date; others include his eclectic, and much lauded, Gospel According to Jazz series (Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4). In addition to his many solo projects, Kirk is a member of the popular soul/jazz group, BWB, which features Kirk as the “W” of the group with Rick Braun (trumpet) and Norman Brown (guitar).
An ordained minister, Kirk has earned a Masters of Art in Religion. It’s in this spirit that he serves his community in various ways when his touring schedule allows. There is also his daily fifteen minute podcast, Bible In Your Ear (BIYE), in which he invites you to listen along as he reads through the Bible in a year. In addition to music and ministry, Kirk has a passion to educate young, aspiring musicians.
Kirk is the recipient of numerous awards and acknowledgements for his musical excellence including three Dove Award nominations, an NAACP Image Award nomination and has won two Stellar Awards-Gospel music’s highest honor. A twelve time Grammy nominee, Kirk won his first Grammy award (2011)for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do”––featuring Lalah Hathaway) alongside life-long friend and gifted songwriter, Jerry Peters.
In a career spanning decades, Kirk has a sound that is uniquely his; it is a sound that leaves an indelible imprint on the listener.
Guitar & Bass Division Head, Memphis campus
Assistant Professor of Modern Music, Guitar & Bass
M.M., Music Performance, University of Memphis
B.M., Music Performance, University of Memphis
Certificate of Performance, University of Memphis
Bassist/producer, Ted Partin, has worn many hats during his career. He started by playing double bass with the Memphis, Arkansas, and Illinois symphonies. After earning his B.M., M.M., and a Certificate of Performance from the Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, he went on to teach at the U of M and Rhodes College. As a performer and studio sideman, his credits include Kirk Whalum, Mavis Staples, Todd Agnew, Amy Grant, Anthony Evans, Suzy Boggus, and Gretchen Peters. He currently lives in Memphis with his wife, Robyn, and their two dogs, while also running Nitrap Recording and serves in the worship band at The Stirring in nearby Cordova, TN.
Songwriting Division, Memphis campus
Instructor of Modern Music, Songwriting
M.A. Apologetics (in progress), Houston Baptist University
B.Min. Modern Music – Songwriting, Visible Music College
Naø is a St. Louis native, adopted into the heart of Memphis for the love of music. She moved to the south to pursue a degree in songwriting with a vocal emphasis at Visible Music College, and graduated as salutatorian in 2015. Since then, she pursued every part of the industry that she could. Naø has taught a variety of instruments at School of Rock and Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School. Currently, she works as a publicity assistant at a boutique public relations firm for local musicians in addition to teaching at Visible. Naø is also a freelance writer for the Odyssey and HM magazine, incorporating her love of music into album reviews, feature stories and interviews. She is currently pursuing a master of arts in cultural apologetics from Houston Baptist University. When she is not teaching, writing, or reading, Naø can be found on stage with her post-hardcore band, You The Few. Over the last three years she has fronted the band through three records, a regional tour and many local shows. She is also a member of the worship team at the Kroc church in Memphis.
Modern Music Head, Chicago campus
Assistant Professor of Modern Music
708.455.1414, ext. 1401
M.Mus. Vocal Performance, McNally Smith College of Music
M.A. Organizational Administration-Leadership, MidAmerica Nazarene University
B.M. Church Music, North Central University
Curtis is a professional singer and piano player with over 15 years working as a contract musician, songwriter, arranger, director, worship pastor, entrepreneur, private coach and teacher. He is influenced by improvisational artists and genres like folk, gospel, jazz, pop, and R&B. He also uses technique found from the classical music tradition to help students grow in their writing, performing, and improvisation. Bringing professional experience from his prior roles, Curtis is highly encouraging and deeply committed to his students and their growth.
Dr. Courtney Harris
Keyboard Division, Chicago campus
Core Curriculum, Chicago campus
Professor of Modern Music and Core Curriculum
Ph.D. Christian Counseling, Newburgh Seminary
M.A. Business Management, Webster University
BGS Music/Sociology, Roosevelt University