Music Teacher Corey Leak Elevates and Educates Through Song

Mr. Corey Leak is currently the music teacher at Lucile Souders Elementary School. His greatest joy is inspiring his students to enjoy all that music has to offer across many genres.  While at Lucile Souders, Leak has put on musical productions such as Annie, Motown Christmas and the Wiz.

At the age of 13, Mr. Leak started traveling and singing professionally with the Boys Choir of Harlem. He has performed with a diverse group of music’s most distinguished and revered recording artists, ranging from Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder to Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Kathleen Battle. Mr. Leak was a member of the cast of the Lion King, and has performed with the North Carolina Symphony, New York Symphony and Boston Symphony.

Mr. Leak is a graduate of the Choir Academy of Harlem, a performing arts high school, and holds the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music/Vocal Performance from Shaw University. Leak has completed additional studies in vocal performance at Indiana University, Boston University and Westminster Choir College.

3 Things making your life richer & why?

Three things that make my life richer are my family because they keep me grounded and have been the core of helping me to grow into the man I am today. They are my reason for pushing myself to be the absolute best that I can be.

Teaching and getting to work with my students daily is one of the greatest experiences of my life. They challenge me to be better by wanting to give them all I’ve learned and experienced in life. Every day we get to take a journey through music, whether exploring music genres from around the world, learning different instruments, or singing. I get to see them grow and dare to dream of endless possibilities of what they can accomplish.

The last thing that makes life richer for me is the opportunities I have been given to still perform and sing. As much as I love teaching, I also have a great love and equal passion for performance and singing and using my gift. Having the opportunity to share my gift of singing is truly a joy. I love connecting with my audience through song to uplift, inspire, and even provoke moments of thought in them.

Local artist you admire?

I admire and respect greatly Monique Butler McLeod. She is a professional singer, choir director, coach, and so much more. I had the privilege to sing with her at the past two Lift Every Voice and Sing shows presented by Cumberland Choral Arts. She is a phenomenal singer and performer and equally a phenomenal person to know in everyday life. She inspires me and has truly become a wonderful friend. 

What is one of your current artistic experiments?

I am currently looking to start working on a recording of African American spirituals and art songs. I’ve never done a full recorded album before and while I am nervous, I am also excited for the opportunity. This is an untapped market that you really don’t have much representation in today and so it would be a total reward for me. 

How does your practice inform your teaching, or vice versa?

My practice informs my teaching through the discipline I teach them when it comes to performance. How to stand, how to hold a music folder, how to engage an audience, and tell a story through song. It also informs the level of expectation I have for my students. I do not limit their abilities: I push them to where I know they can go and beyond. I do not allow them to speak any negativity about themselves or each other; instead I only promote positive reinforcement and words. No two people are alike. My expectation is not that they learn to be better than one another, but for them to be the best THEY can be in whatever musical expression we are exploring at the moment. I hope they will take those tools and carry them throughout the rest of their lives and apply it to whatever they do, wherever they go. 

Corey (second from right) with fellow soloists at “Lift Every Voice and Sing” 2022

What is your favorite way to share artistic history with your students? 

My favorite way to share artistic history with my students is through animated videos that depict the portions of history I would like for them to learn, and wherever possible, bring in fellow musicians, singers, etc to do live presentations. I try to introduce music history in ways that inspire, provoke thought, and engage my students.

What do you want for your art students? 

What I want for my students is for them to get every opportunity there is to learn all about the wonderful world of music. I would love for them to be exposed to different cultures, instruments, musical experiences. I would like for them to walk away from my class inspired to be their absolute best creative selves. I want them to be free to explore and become as well-rounded human beings as possible. 

If you could teach anything using your art form, what would it be?

Music is a part of life that helps to create and effect positive change.  Music has the power to heal, uplift, inspire, challenge, and increase positive brain development. Music is what changed my life and to be able to use it in part to influence my students of all the possibilities and creativity is truly amazing to me. I would like to continue to use it to teach my students how to respect, love, and appreciate one another. I think our world would be a better place if everyone were able to look at each other through the eyes of love. If I can use my art form to help put a little more love out into the world then I would have accomplished my mission in life. 


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