ABOUT OUR DIRECTORS
Head Choir Director
Ms. Baker is in her 5th year as the Director of Choirs at Stratford High School and in her 10th year teaching at Stratford High School. She is living her dream come true, returning to her alma mater and being given the opportunity to work with these students. She graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education where she performed with Choirs that performed all over the state. Ms. Baker performed with the Baylor A Cappella Choir as an invited featured choir at the 2014 convention. That summer, Ms. Baker traveled with the choir to Paris to work on a recording project of Maurice Durufle’s Requiem at the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church. She received her master’s degree from Florida State University. Sic’em Bears and Go Noles!
Ms. Baker has worked along side the Stratford Playhouse in several of their productions. She has directed Chicago (2014), A Chorus Line (2016), Avenue Q (2016), Little Women (2017), and Pippin (2019). She has also worked as the music director for several productions. She was assistant music director for Bye Bye Birdie (2015), co-music director for Anything Goes (2016), and music director for Me and My Girl (2017), Addams Family (2018), Newsies (2019), Drowsy Chaperone (2020), Something Rotten (2021), Peter Pan (2022) and Young Frankenstein (2023). Ms. Baker was the conductor for Legally Blonde (2022). Stratford Playhouse has received multiple Tommy Tune Award nominations for Best Musical Direction for her direction and guidance. She received the award for Best Music Direction for the production of Young Frankenstein. Choirs under her direction have received sweepstakes at the UIL Concert and Sightreading Evaluation.
Outside of Stratford, Ms. Baker is an active member of both the Texas Music Educators Association and Texas Choral Directors Association. Ms. Baker works part-time as the Music Associate for Memorial Drive United Methodist Church where she works with the Youth Choir and is a singer in the adult Chancel Choir. Ms. Baker has served on committees for Stratford and Spring Branch ISD. She has been on the Campus Improvement Team and is currently on the District Improvement Team. She is a devoted community member of Spring Branch ISD and supports the Spring Branch Education Foundation. She enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Tommy Chenault, and their two dogs Bella and Moose.
Assistant Choir Director
Gyasi J. Blanton, a native of New Jersey, is an active musician, music director, music educator and composer/arranger. He currently serves as the assistant director of choirs at Stratford High School. He graduated from the first Historically Black College/University: The Lincoln University of Pennsylvania where he obtained the Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Music Education (magna cum laude) as well as a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Vocal Performance (magna cum laude). During that time, he was a member of the prestigious Concert Choir under the direction of Edryn Coleman traveling the world. He then obtained the Master of Music Education in Choral Music Education at Florida State University where he studied with André Thomas, Judy Bowers and Kevin Fenton.
Mr. Blanton was one of the artistic directors with the New Jersey Youth Chorus "Coro Vivo" a boy choir of unchanged Voices. Under his direction, this ensemble performed at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and with the Keystone State Boychoir. As a composer and arranger, Blanton’s" Invictus," "Entreat Me Not to Leave You," "The Dream Keeper" and "The Water Is Wide" have performed in recitals, master classes and concerts. As a researcher, his passion is the non-idiomatic music of black composers. He has presented this underrepresented area of music at state and regional conferences.
Stage credits include: Treemonsha (Andy), Hansel and Gretel (The Witch), Man of La Mancha (Sancho), Kismet (The Caliph), The Medium (Toby), Pippin (Leading Player), Hairspray (u/s Seaweed), Porgy and Bess (Ensemble), The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee
(Mitch Mahoney). Blanton also served as music director for productions of: A Christmas Carol, Pippin, Little Women, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Pajama Game, A Class Act, Cinderella, The Little Mermad Jr., My Fair Lady, She Loves Me, Urinetown, Singin' in the Rain and Mamma Mia!.
Mr. Blanton is affiliated with Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society, American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), Texas Choral Director’s Association (TCDA), National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM), National Association for the Study and Performance of African-American Music (NASPAAM), New Jersey Music Educators Association (NJMEA), National Association for Music Educators (NaFME), The Academia Society Inc., Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.
Research interests include:
Non-idiomatic choral music of black composers
All-state choral repertoire