Chicago College of Performing Arts

The Center for Arts Leadership is a newly launched center for empowering students and alumni of the Chicago College of Performing Arts through experiential learning and growth opportunities in community engagement, social justice and career development.

Adrian Dunn

Meet Adrian Dunn, CCPA’s new Advisor for Racial Equity and Minority Student Success!

The Center for Arts Leadership is thrilled to announce the appointment of Adrian Dunn as CCPA’s Advisor for Racial Equity and Minority Student Success. Below you will find specifics about this newly created role and Mr. Dunn’s background as an advocate for racial justice, entrepreneur, and performing artist. Over the past few years, Adrian has been an active leader within the Center for Arts Leadership. We could not be happier to grow his role and feature his expertise, passion, and strength as we work to drive needed cultural change at CCPA in support of our students of color.

CCPA students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to connect with Adrian at 

Hear from Adrian in this video as he shares an introduction to himself in this new role:

About the Position 

This position exists to support and advise the administration of the Chicago College of Performing Arts with the development and implementation of policies, programs, processes and initiatives to combat racism and assure equity and inclusion for our students. Adrian will work within the Center for Arts Leadership to serve the Center and both the Music and Theatre Conservatories. As the bridge across both conservatories, the CAL provides a home for these initiatives and a place to encourage cultural change across the college. Mr. Dunn also has prior experience working with students within the Center for Arts Leadership through his participation in career days, such as Purpose-Driven Musician Day in 2018; workshops, such as Startup CCPA in 2019; and his Performing Social Justice Residency with ‘Redemption: LIVE’ in 2020. This position reports to the Director of the Center for Arts Leadership, Allegra Montanari. 

This role allows the college to take steps immediately with the position structured as a special consultant. Adrian will help us as CCPA considers how best to explore the possibilities of a full-time role with greater capacity and investment in the sustained commitment to this important work. The goal for posting and hiring for this full-time position is Fall 2021. 

Primary responsibilities associated with Adrian’s assignment as Advisor for Racial Equity and Minority Student Success are as follows: 

  • Advise the CCPA leadership regarding the development of student policies that protect marginalized students including systems of accountability for reporting racial incidents. 
  • Collaborate with Deans, faculty, and staff to create a short-term and long-term strategy to make CCPA an anti-racist college. 
  • Create extra-curricular and co-curricular programming and student groups specifically for Black and Brown students. Provide and facilitate mentorship opportunities for students of Color.  
  • Collaborate with Roosevelt University departments to increase resources and support for minority groups and marginalized students (Multicultural Student Support Services, Office of the Dean of Students, and the Counseling Center). 
  • Serve as a leader of the Center for Arts Leadership Advisory Council in creating effective alumni relations and engagement from alumni of Color. 
  • Collect data and provide an ongoing assessment.
"Redemption: LIVE"

Adrian Dunn and “Redemption: LIVE” in Ganz Hall as part of his Performing Social Justice Residency in February 2020, hosted by the Center for Arts Leadership.

About Adrian Dunn

Mr. Dunn’s Prior Experience Leading Efforts for Racial Equity Include: 
  • Founder & former Artistic Director of The Legacy Project: A Celebration of Black Music at CCPA (2004-2010) which successfully advocated for the hiring of 8-10 new faculty of color at CCPA during those years & was a collaborative effort between faculty, students of both conservatories, and staff.  
  • Founder & Director of the Hopera Summer Music bridge program (2005-2007) at CCPA for High School Students interested in college careers in the arts in greater Chicagoland. 
  • Served as Principle vocal coach and curriculum advisor for Kanye West’s professional Artist Development program for hip-hop and commercial vocal artists on Chicago’s Southside. 
  • Former composer with the Urban League & Lyric Unlimited with all African American high school cohort. 
  • Founder of RISE Black Music & Justice Symposium 2019- present  
  • Founder of the Black Music Matters advocacy movement for Black working professional artists & arts educators around the United States.  

Watch “I Open My Mouth” for Eric Garner and George Floyd performed by Adrian Dunn and the Adrian Dunn Singers

Full Biography: 

Adrian Dunn is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and producer. Mr. Dunn holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree in Voice from The Music Conservatory at Roosevelt University with additional musical studies in opera at The Sibelius Academy of Music in Finland. 

Mr. Dunn has sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Grant Park Symphony Chorus, Blossom Festival Chorus, and as a soloist with the North Shore Choral Society. He has sung in the CCM Spoleto Opera Festival in Spoleto, Italy and is a frequent soloist in Handel’s Messiah. He sang the lead role in the 2017 Chicago premiere of the Paul Laurence Dunbar opera The Poet and in 2016 served as the opera chorus master for the midwest premiere of the opera Harriet Tubman – When I Crossed That Line to Freedom with the South Shore Opera Company of Chicago. 

As an active professional singer, producer, and songwriter, Mr. Dunn has had the privilege of working with gospel greats such as Tremaine Hawkins, Myron Butler, Melonie Daniels, Troy Bright, Lamar Campbell, Damien Sneed, Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, Smokie Norful, Jonathan Nelson, and many more. He was awarded Album Producer of the Year forAME Live featuring the AME International Mass Choir from the Rhythm of Gospel Awards. He has served on music staff for the AME General Conference in Philadelphia (2016) and in Nashville (2012). He opened the 2014 Thomas Dorsey National Convention of Choirs and Choruses for the AME Mass Choir. He is the album producer for the 2015 release AME 200: Celebrating 200 years of the AME church.   

Mr. Dunn is a MacArthur grant recipient for his original work Hopera: A Hip Hop Opera.  He was nominated for Best Music Director from the Black Theater Alliance Awards for his work Hopera: a Hip Hop Opera. He has opened for international Hip Hop Recording Artist The Roots at Indiana University. He served as principle vocal coach for Kanye West’s artist development program Donda’s House. He was a featured artist and vocal coach for the live DVD recording of the Higher Ground Gospel Choir in Helsinki, Finland. He has toured throughout the US, South Africa, Italy, Germany, the UK, and Scandinavia. 

Mr. Dunn has been a guest artist and presented lectures at The University of Wisconsin Madison, The School of the Art Institute, McCormick Theological Seminary, Clark Atlanta University, Illinois State University, Northern Illinois University, Columbia College Chicago, Bowling Green State University, University of California Irvine, California State University, West Virginia University, The University of Calgary, Governors State University and The University of Chicago. He is the former Artistic Director of the Legacy Black Music Project at Roosevelt University. He completed writing his first book in 2014 entitled Your Voice Unleashed: A Singers Guide to Healthier, Smarter, Sustainable Singing. 

Currently, Mr. Dunn released his most recent album and second book entitled Revelations: A collection of spirituals & gospel songs in seeking justice for Black lives. He recently wrote the opening music for WWE’s Wrestle Mania 35 and completed a national album & book tour of the Revelations. He is a voice faculty member at The New Music School in downtown Chicago, IL. Mr. Dunn’s private voice students can be seen in Broadway National tours of  LION KING, GHOST, KINKY BOOTS, RENT, BET’s show Sunday Best, Drury Lane Theater, The Paramount Theater, Black Ensemble Theater, and as background vocalists for major record label artists on tour throughout the US and abroad. For more information, please visit

Picture of Adrian Dunn and Black Music Matters shirt

Haley Henning • July 17, 2020

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