Dave Ragland

Dave Ragland is a four-time EMMY nominated composer, vocalist, pianist, and conductor based in Nashville, Tennessee. As of 2023, he has composed and arranged over ten works for solo voice and piano.

Photo: Dave Ragland, daveragland.com.

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    Dave Ragland is a four-time EMMY nominated composer, vocalist, pianist, and conductor. His interest in music began at an early age, when he would make up songs on the school playground. As he told Nashville Classical Radio in an interview, he composed one of his first songs in the fifth grade: “I had an assignment to find a song that matched the book I was reading for book report presentations. I couldn’t find a song that matched so I went to the piano and wrote one.”

    Since his early experiences with songwriting, Ragland has amassed an impressive resume. Hailed as “über-talented” by The Nashville Scene, Ragland received an EMMY nomination for composition and music direction for Frist Art Museum’s “NICK CAVE FEAT. NASHVILLE.” He received a second EMMY nomination for his composition “I’m Troubled.” Ragland was also nominated for Best Director of a Musical by First Night Honors for Wildcard Productions’ run of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” 

    Ragland arranged “Lift Every Voice and Sing” for GRAMMY-nominated opera singer Lawrence Brownlee for “Concert for Inauguration Day” presented by Washington National Opera. In Nashville Opera’s first ever commission, Ragland collaborated with librettist Mary McCallum to create “ONE VOTE WON” – an opera commemorating the centennial of Women’s Suffrage. Ragland, in collaboration with Inversion Vocal Ensemble, shackled feet DANCE, and Diaspora Orchestra, debuted his opera “STEAL AWAY” as Artist-in-Residence for OZ Arts.

    For the past three seasons, Ragland has served as Chorusmaster for Nashville Symphony’s Let Freedom Sing. He was the 2020 GRADY-RAYAM Negro Spirituals Foundation Composer-in Residence, and is a member of the inaugural cohort of composers for the National Teachers of Singing (NATS) Mentoring Program.

    Ragland is the Artistic Director of Inversion Vocal Ensemble, a regionally touring vocal collective that has performed with Brandi Carlile, GRAMMY-nominee Ruby Amanfu, Marcus Hummon, and Levi Hummon. Previous engagements with Inversion include The National Civil Rights Museum, The National Museum of African-American Music, and The Ryman Auditorium.

    Ragland was a Composer Mentor for 91Classical’s inaugural Student Composer Fellowship. He serves on the board of American Choral Directors Association, Tennessee Chapter, and is a proud member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

    —adapted by Sophia Janevic from daveragland.com

    This profile was created in 2023 as part of the Song of America Fellowship Program, a project of the Classic Song Research Initiative between the Hampsong Foundation and the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.



    Dave Ragland, daveragland.com

    Phelps, Colleen. “Six Questions with Student Composer Fellowship Mentor Dave Ragland.” Nashville Classical Radio, February 11, 2020. https://91classical.org/post/six-questions-with-student-composer-fellowship-mentor-dave-ragland/. 

    Related Information



    Soul and Reconciliation

    (Maria Thompson Corley, Jonathan Bailey Holland, James Lee III, Zenobia Powell Perry, Rosephanye Powell, Dave Ragland and Richard Thompson)


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    Fires of Justice

    (David N. Baker, B. E. Boykin, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Andre Myers, Shawn E. Okpebholo, Robert Owens and Dave Ragland)


    View recording

    An Anthology of African and African Diaspora Songs

    (H. Leslie Adams, David N. Baker, Margaret Bonds, Charles Samuel Brown, Henry T. Burleigh, Valerie Capers, Harriette Davison Watkins, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Undine Smith Moore, Camille Nickerson, Robert Owens, Zenobia Powell Perry, Florence Price, Rosephanye Powell, Dave Ragland, Hale Smith, Irene Britton Smith and Brandon J Spencer)


    View recording

    Sheet Music

    An Anthology of African and African Diaspora Songs - 60 Songs

    Composer(s): H. Leslie Adams, David N. Baker, Margaret Bonds, Charles Brown, H. T. Burleigh, Valerie Capers, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Arthur Cunningham, Harriette Davison Watkins, William Dawson, Mark Fax, Bruce Forsythe, Antônio Carlos Gomes, Adolphus Hailstork, Jacqueline Hairston, Maud Cuney Hare, Jeraldine Herbison, Jonathan Holland, Sylvia Hollifield, Langston Hughes, J. Rosamond Johnson, Thomas Kerr, Lena McLin, Undine Smith Moore, Andre Myers, Camille Nickerson, Fred Onovwerosuoke, Eurydice Osterman, Robert Owens, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Zenobia Powell Perry, Rosephanye Powell, Florence Price, Dave Ragland, Nadine Shanti, Carlos Simon, Hale Smith, Irene Britton Smith, Brandon Spencer, Hilbert Stewart, Howard Swanson, George Walker, Aurelia Young

    Song(s): Amazing Grace (H. Leslie Adams)
    Christmas Lullaby (H. Leslie Adams)
    Sence You Went Away (H. Leslie Adams)
    The Heart of a Woman (H. Leslie Adams)
    The Alarm Clock (David N. Baker)
    The Negro Speaks of Rivers (Margaret Bonds)
    Caring (Charles Brown)
    Desire (Charles Brown)
    Your Eyes So Deep (H. T. Burleigh)
    Your Lips Are Wine (H. T. Burleigh)
    Autumn (Valerie Capers)
    Elëanore (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor)
    The Willow Song (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor)
    Minakesh (Arthur Cunningham)
    Stars (Harriette Davison Watkins)
    Out in the Fields (William Dawson)
    The Refused (Mark Fax)
    With Rue My Heart Is Laden (Bruce Forsythe)
    Suspiro d’alma (Antônio Carlos Gomes)
    If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking (Adolphus Hailstork)
    Longing (Adolphus Hailstork)
    Loveliest of Trees (Adolphus Hailstork)
    Dormi, Jesu (Jacqueline Hairston)
    Gardé Piti Mulet Là (Maud Cuney Hare)
    I’ll Not Forget (Jeraldine Herbison)
    Little Elegy (Jonathan Holland)
    In Time of Silver Rain (Sylvia Hollifield)
    The Founding Fathers (Langston Hughes)
    This is My Land (Langston Hughes)
    L’il Gal (J. Rosamond Johnson)
    Soliloquy (Thomas Kerr)
    Amazing Grace (Lena McLin)
    The Year’s at the Spring (Lena McLin)
    I Am in Doubt (Undine Smith Moore)
    I Want to Die While You Love Me (Undine Smith Moore)
    For a Poet (Andre Myers)
    Chere, Mo Lemmé Toi (Camille Nickerson)
    Gué, Gué, Solingaie (Camille Nickerson)
    Mshila (Fred Onovwerosuoke)
    Entreaty (I Am the Rose of Sharon) (Eurydice Osterman)
    Could I but Ride Indefinite (Robert Owens)
    Die Nacht (Robert Owens)
    From the Dark Tower (Robert Owens)
    The Lynching (Robert Owens)
    The Secret (Robert Owens)
    Madrigal (Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson)
    O Children of Men (Zenobia Powell Perry)
    I Want to Die While You Love Me (Rosephanye Powell)
    Spring (Florence Price)
    The Sum (Florence Price)
    Martin Luther King, Jr. (Dave Ragland)
    Mangez, Boulez (Eat, Drink, Be Merry) (Nadine Shanti)
    Prayer (Carlos Simon)
    Troubled Woman (Hale Smith)
    Why Fades a Dream? (Irene Britton Smith)
    Dream Variations (Brandon Spencer)
    Spring Song (Hilbert Stewart)
    One Day (Howard Swanson)
    I Went to Heaven (George Walker)
    Norris Swamp (Aurelia Young)

    Voice Type: 36 Songs are for High Voice - Medium to High Voice
    24 Songs are for Medium - Medium to Low Voice

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