From Gospel to Jazz Concert

The impact of the African American Experience on Music

Sunday March 27, 2022 At 5:00pm
At the Epiphany Chapel Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
Reception to follow
500 W. Willow Grove Ave
Philadelphia PA 19118

Sponsored by Cresheim Valley Church
Admission is free but please reserve your seats by emailing
[email protected] or text 215 740 3759
Ruth Naomi Floyd                          
Deion Payton






Philadelphia native Ruth Naomi Floyd is a vocalist, composer, photographer, educator, and the first African American woman to serve as Founding Director of a University jazz program in the United States.

Ruth leads her multi-faceted ensemble, and her discography consists primarily of original compositions. She performs and lectures prolifically around the world on the intersection of beauty, theology, justice, and culture. In 2019, Concordia College New York awarded Ruth an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters for her unique and valuable contribution to the arts, her commitment to music education, and her justice work. Ms. Floyd has served as the Director of Jazz Studies at Cairn University in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and is an adjunct professor and artist in residence at Temple University.

Ruth’s recent compositions include “Freedom”, which premiered in April 2018 in Wales, United Kingdom. Freedom was commissioned in honor of human rights activist, Mende Nazer, and his profound story of survival as a slave in Sudan and London.

In addition, the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center, in partnership with NEWorks Productions, commissioned Ruth 
as one of four composers to create a community mass inspired by Bernstein’s MASS that explores anew the relevance of faith in our times. The Frederick Douglass Jazz Works is Ruth’s latest body of compositions for jazz septet, based on the speeches and writings of the great leading orator, abolitionist, writer, publisher, and statesman. This body of work won the Best Vocal Recital Award at the San Francisco Classical Voice Audience Choice Awards for 2020- 2021. In 2021, in partnership with Intercultural Journeys, Ruth was commissioned to compose a three-song cycle for voice and cello in honor of the legacy and activism of the great contralto Marian Anderson.

Ruth and Intercultural Journeys partnered on another commission, for which the National Endowment for the Arts awarded a Project Grant in May 2021. This body of work, The Frances Suite, will explore the life, advocacy, and literary work of Frances Ellen Watkin Harper, and will feature an all-female ensemble of color. The Orrin Evans Trio, featuring Ruth, was named one of NPR Music’s Best Live Sessions of 2021 for their powerful anthem of liberation, the African American Spiritual, “Oh Freedom.” Ruth was awarded the Kimmel Center’s Jazz Residency for the 2019-2020 season. In December 2019, Concordia College New York awarded Ms. Floyd an Honorary Doctorate for her unique and valuable contribution to the arts, her commitment to music education, and her justice work

Deion Payton is a native of Boston, MA and grew up in Philadelphia. He began singing at the age of four and continued on to study at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts as a Vocal Major. While attending CAPA, he was afforded the opportunity to perform in such venues as The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, The Academy of Music and a host of other prestigious organizations.

He has shared the stage with artists such as Paul Simon, Mali Music, Nick Jonas, Ruth Naomi Floyd, Jabari Johnson and Myron Butler among many others. He has even performed in the presence of former President Barack Obama. Deion has a rich history in Gospel Music, however he has ventured into Musical Theater, Opera, and Oratorio.

He studied at Cairn University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a Concentration in Voice. While at Cairn, Deion restored and led the Cairn Gospel Choir and it is now an accredited course and University Ensemble.

Deion currently serves as an adjunct professor and director for the Gospel Choir. During his college career while singing and touring both in Europe and Hong Kong, Deion was afforded the opportunity to go into schools and share on the origin and practice of Gospel Music and the technique of Gospel Singing. Deion is most known for his distinguished ability to effortlessly sing many diverse genres.

Committed to being a well-rounded musician and vocalist, Deion has studied intensely both African American Gospel Music and European Classical Music. He has done Opera Master classes with World Class Verdi Soprano, Sharon Sweet, as well as other up-and-coming Opera stars such as Sarah Shafer, Paul An, and many others. Some of his musical theater lead roles include Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls,” Enjolras in “Les Miserables,” and Steven Kodaly in “She Loves Me.” As a teaching artist, Deion has taught from K-12th grade in his career. Currently, he serves as education coordinator for the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in the Parkside section of Philadelphia.