Philip Lassiter - Music Education
Before Philip Lassiter began laying down hot horn tracks for Kirk Franklin and other gospel stars, he was honing his craft at Southeastern.
Lassiter, a worship leader at Riverwalk Fellowship Church in Fort Worth, Texas, majored in music education at Southeastern. The program equipped the 1998 graduate for a career in worship leading, songwriting, arranging and producing. Lassiter, who majored in music education for its professional stability, recently has channeled his skills into work for Franklin, award-winning producer and arranger Israel Houghton, and The Potter's House-the mega-church in Dallas, Texas pastored by T.D. Jakes.
Before Lassiter started making his mark on the gospel scene, he took trumpet lessons from Southeastern music instructor Paul Butcher and also studied jazz improvisation and piano under his tutelage. Lassiter says that every class he took with Butcher was valuable.
Lassiter also appreciated the sensitivity to student needs exhibited by Music Department Chair Dr. Danny Tindall and the passion and humor of Religion Professor Dr. Terris Neuman.
Throughout his tenure at Southeastern, Lassiter excelled at playing trumpet. His hard work with Butcher and later as a graduate trumpet performance student at University of Central Oklahoma paid off-literally. He won first place in the 2000 International Trumpet Guild Improvisation Competition. That honor included a $1,000 award. Earlier, Lassiter won first place-and $500 in prize money-at the College Jazz Competition at the 1997 Florida Trumpet Festival. Lassiter also was honored with the top soloist award and a monetary prize at the 1999 Wichita Jazz Festival. Lassiter's talent and training also enabled him to play trumpet, arrange, and tour with the Christian band Truth in 1998.
In addition to studying under Butcher, Lassiter credits participation in Southeastern music ensembles with preparing him for work as a worship leader, songwriter and arranger. While here, Lassiter performed with Worship Choir, the jazz and concert bands, a touring singing group and band called Joy, and New Heights, a worship group that ministered to the Spanish-speaking community. Lassiter also gained early recording experience at Southeastern through a campus CD project called "Praises!"
Lassiter grew personally at Southeastern too. He met his wife Christie and dozens of friends here who've become treasured colleagues. Lassiter's involvement with the worship group New Heights-or "Nuevas Alturas" in Spanish-exposed Lassiter to Hispanic culture, food, and, of course, music. Although it's been years since he's graduated from Southeastern, Lassiter continues to weave music across cultural lines as an arranger of gospel, music rooted in African-American culture. His commitment to music education also is apparent in an instructional DVD he's made that teaches keyboardists techniques in gospel, Latin and other styles common in contemporary worship music.
Southeastern music department chair Dr. Tindall expects Lassiter will become a big name in contemporary Christian music. Lassiter says he and his music benefited from the instruction, ensemble experience and relationships he developed at Southeastern. "It was unique, to say the least," Lassiter said. "(Southeastern) was a big melting pot of talented, passionate, hopeful dreamers that make up some of the finest people I know."