Dr. Alton L. Merrell is a pianist, educator, music director, and music producer. From Youngstown State University, Alton earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Classical Piano Performance graduating Cum Laude, and a Master of Music in Jazz Piano performance. From the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Merrell received his Ph.D. in Jazz Studies with a research focus on jazz piano performance and pedagogy.
Dr. Merrell also leads his own group “Dr. Alton Merrell & Impact” an instrumental and vocal ensemble incorporating diverse musical styles in their repertoire. The mission of the group is to create music that ministers salvation, love, hope, and healing to people worldwide. Alton’s latest award winning CD “You’re The Reason” embodies this vision.
Dr. Merrell has ministered with Gospel / Christian artists Kim Burrell, Martha Munizzi, Donnie McClurkin, Alvin Slaughter, Maurette Brown Clark, Dorothy Norwood, Israel Houghton, LaShunn Pace, Morris Chapman, Parkes Stewart, and the late Rev. Timothy Wright. He has also been seen several times on the nationally televised Bobby Jones Gospel Show. Dr. Merrell has also performed with jazz artists: Benny Golson, Christian McBride, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Owens, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Rufus Reed, Sean Jones, and Roger Humphries. He is a current member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra and has performed with, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Cleveland State Jazz Heritage Orchestra, Pittsburgh Concert Chorale, YSU All-Star Alumni Jazz Ensemble, Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, and the OMEA Intercollegiate All-Star Jazz Ensemble.
Dr. Merrell has received numerous honors including: Gospel Jazz Artist of the Year, American Gospel Music Award, Best New Gospel Jazz Artist & Producer, Presenter at the National Jazz Educator's Network Conference - San Diego, CA (2015), Capital Jazz Festival Competition Finalist (2008), YSU Jazz Quintet Member of the Cultural Exchange Group performing in Beijing, China (Summer 2002.) YSU Jazz Quintet Member of the Cultural Exchange Jazz Group performing in Shanghai, Nanjing, and Hangzhou, China (Summer 2004) where a number of Alton’s compositions and arrangements were performed. Selected to perform in a master class with world renowned jazz pianist Danillo Perez at TRI-C Jazz Festival (2002), Who’s Who Among America’s High School and College Students; Member of the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society; Featured pianist in classical and jazz genres at the Dana School of Music’s Showcase Concert (1999), Tri-C Jazz Festival Special Performance Citation from city of Warren’s probate judge Thomas Swift and the International Association of Jazz Educators, Recipient of Outstanding Performance award with Y.S.U. Jazz Ensemble I in Big Band Category of the 2000 Down Beat magazine student music awards, Featured soloist at the Warren City Schools General Convocation(1999), Recipient of Founces M. Luley Music Scholarship.
Above all, Dr. Merrell’s life is dedicated to being a godly husband to his wife Geida, a godly father to his son Jaden and daughter Zion, and an instrument in the Lord's hand to minister the love of Jesus to people everywhere through music and the word of God.
Alton Merrell's Biography