The Gospel According to DameinCommunity connection is at the center of Damein Wash's music
BY JAKE THRASHER
Multiple singers, three songs, and only an hour to rehearse before the show. This is the Oxford holiday pop-up choir, part of the Yoknapatawpha Art Council’s annual Holiday Art Market.
Local musician Damein Wash coordinates the impromptu performance that “pops up without any preparation to perform pop renditions of Christmas music.” Though many Oxonians know Damein’s affinity for the gospel genre, he stresses that the choir is open to all types of singers. The performance will take place December 2nd from 6 – 7 p.m.
Damein hails from Hickory, Mississippi, where his father is the mayor. Growing up, he was always involved in music. He started choir in middle school and sang at his childhood church. After earning a degree in music education from the University of Mississippi, he taught music for four years in the Oxford School District.
The music scene inside and outside of Oxford continues to keep Damein busy. For the past twelve years, he has worked as the pianist and choir master at East Saint Peter Missionary Baptist Church, in addition to freelance arranging and singing. Damien’s work has appeared in films ranging from Hallmark movies to Starz’s American Gods.
On top of all these activities, Damein has returned to Ole Miss to pursue his Masters in Music Theory. He says the professors in the music department are incredible both inside and outside of the classroom. Not only does he benefit from their instruction, he also gets to perform alongside them on and off campus. After earning his degree, Damein will consider becoming a professor himself, but he would also love to further his music work for films and TV shows.
The supportive nature of the Oxford music community is invaluable in Damein’s eyes. Through the Oxford community, he has made important connections that have advanced his career. He recorded a gospel album for Moonshine Music, which spread his music through the film scene. Damein also sings at private events and travels with the Florida based production company Skorman Productions. He performs in two bands, Us, The Duo and Soultones, with Ricky Burkhead.
Nature and his immediate surroundings typically inspire Damein’s creativity. While there is no certain order to his process, he says his works usually begin with a small idea—a couple of lyrics or maybe part of a melody—which he then expands. Damein enjoys arranging all genres of music, especially spirituals, and he arranges music for the film projects he develops on the side.
Damein attributes his passion for music to his parents who encouraged him to sing, bought him instruments, and helped him participate in many music programs. It would seem he also inherited their genuine interest in fostering a love of music among young people. He often volunteers to judge choral competitions across the state and, in parts of the state that do not have the budget for a music program, Damein visits to perform and sometimes to teach music classes. At schools with weaker music programs, he provides supplemental lessons and helps in whatever ways he can.
Damein has already achieved so much in so little time that there is no doubt he will garner more success in the future. Likewise, there’s no doubt that Oxford and Mississippi will continue to benefit from his musical talent and his generous spirit, during the holidays and throughout the year.