Born in Cleveland, Ohio. Education: Cleveland, Ohio: public schools; early (piano and theory) training with Dorothy Smith and Mina Eichenbaum. Glenville High School, private voice with John Howard Tucker. Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, composition with Herbert Elwell and Joseph Wood; voice with Robert Fountain; and piano with Emil Danenberg, B.M.E., 1955. New York, N.Y.: composition privately with Robert Starer, 1959 and Vittorio Giannini, 1960. Long Beach, California: California State University, composition with Leon Dallin and Robert Tyndall, M.Mus., 1967. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University, composition with Marshall Barnes, 1968-73, Ph.D.. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas. [post-grad] orchestration with Edward Mattila, 1974 . Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Institute of Music, [ post-grad] orchestration with Eugene O'Brien and (privately) Marcel Dick, 1978-83.
Composing and Performing Career: New York, N. Y.: piano accompanist for various ballet and dance companies (including studios of Ballet Russe, Robert Joeffrey and June Taylor); received numerous performances of his compositions by a variety of artists (including composer debut at Judson Hall) 1957-61. Cleveland, Ohio: Karamu House, associate musical director, 1964-65. Raton. N.M.: Kaleidoscope Players, music director, 1967-68. Cleveland, Ohio: Karamu House composer-in-residence, 1979-80; Cuyahoga Community College, guest composer, 1980; Cleveland Music School Settlement, composer-in-residence, 1981-82; Accord Associates, Inc., founder and president, 1980-86, and executive vice-president and composer-in-residence, 1986-92; Creative Arts, Inc., president and artist-in-residence, 1997-present. East Cleveland: Seifullah Gallery, artist-in-residence, 2011-17. Lakewood, Ohio: Grace Presbyterian Church, music/choir director, 1996-present.
Teaching Career includes Tallahassee, Florida: A&M University, assistant professor of music, 1968. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas School of Music, associate professor of music; director of the University Concert Choir, and director of choral clinics, 1970-78.
Commissions include: Cleveland, Ohio: Ohio Chamber Orchestra, 1981-82. Minneapolils, Minnesota: Paul Kaye Singers, through Borg-Warner Foundation, 1985. Chicago, Illinois: Center for Black Music Research, 1989. Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Chamber Symphony, 1991; The Cleveland Orchestra, 1994. East Cleveland, Ohio: Historic First Presbyterian Church, 1997. Lakewood, Ohio: Lakewood Presbyterian Church..
Memberships: Life memberships in Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Delta Kappa, Pi Kappa Lambda, and American Choral Directors Association. Also American Guild of Organists; Advisory Council to Music Arts Association (Cleveland Orchestra) ; and Honorary Member, American Composers Alliance of Broadcast Music, Inc. .
Honors/Awards: Washington, D. C.: National Education Defense Act Fellowship, 1969-70. New York, N. Y.: National Award for Original Composition for Choral Arts, Inc., 1974. Washington, D. C.: National Endowment for the Arts [composition project] award, 1979. Cleveland, Ohio: featured composer, "Meet the Artist," Cleveland Public Schools, 1981-82, 1983-84, and 1991. Bellagio, Italy: scholar-in-residence, Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center, 1979. Saratoga Springs, N. Y.: fellowships at the Yaddo Artists Colony, 1980 and 1984. Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Foundation Fellow, 1980; and Jennings Foundation Fellow, 1981. Chicago, Illinois: NANM 2004 Composer Award. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Composer Legacy Award, National Opera Association, 2006. Long Beach, California: Distinguished Alumnus Award, California State University at Long Beach, 2006. Cleveland, Ohio: Gems of Cleveland Award, 2007. Washington, D.C.: Music Panelist, National Endowment for the Arts, 2008. Also Guest Composer Appearances and Residencies include: Juilliard School of Music, 2004; Manhattan School of Music, 2007; Joy of Singing at Lincoln Center, 2003; Tufts University, 2002; University of Baltimore College Park, 2000; Morehouse College, 2007; Millersville University, 2008; AGO Cleveland (occasional concert affiliations) 1995-Present; Guest Composer, African American Art Song Alliance National Conventions, California University Irvine, 2007 & 2012, Cleveland, Ohio: Bascom Little Fund Award, 2017. Hamden, CT: The Mirror Visions Ensemble, 2019.
2020: Cleveland, OH: Concert of Works presented by the American Guild of Organists, Cleveland Chapter.
Performances include: New York, N. Y.: New York City Opera & Soloists (under Brian Garman). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Opera North, Inc. (under Kay George Roberts). Prague, Czechoslovakia: Prague Radio Symphony (under Julius Williams). Reykjavik, Iceland:: Iceland Symphony (under Everett Lee). Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Orchestra (under Jahja Ling, Gareth Morrell, Mathis Dulak and Alan Gilbert). Buffalo, New York: Buffalo Philharmonic (under Julius Rudel and William Eddins). Indianapolis, Indiana: Indianapolis Symphony (under William Henry Curry and Charles Darden). Detroit, Michigan: Detroit Symphony (under Leslie Dunner). Savannah, Georgia: Savannah Symphony (under Phillip Greenberg). Springfield, Ohio: Springfield Symphony (under John Ferrito). Oakland, Michigan: Oakland-Pontiac Symphony (under David Daniels). St. Paul, Minnesota: St. Paul Symphony (under Eduard Forner). Cleveland, Ohio: Ohio Chamber Orchestra (under Dwight Oltman), and Cleveland Chamber Symphony (under Edwin London). Wooster,Ohio: Wooster Symphony (under Jeffrey Lindberg). Chicago, Illinois: Black Music Repertory Ensemble (under Michael Morgan and Kay George Roberts). Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College Opera Theater (under Judith Layng). Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland State University Choir (under J. LanYe); Lyric Opera Cleveland (under Jonathon Field); Greg L. Reese Performing Arts Center (under Founder Reese); and Greater Cleveland Flute Society Composers Connection, under support of Bascom Little Fund. New York, N. Y.: Avava Artists presentations (under Avid Williams)' Newton, Kansas: Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony (under Thomas E. Douglas). Irvine, California: University of California Irvine Symphony ((under Stephen Tucker). Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The University of North Carolina: World Premiere Piano Etudes (Complete in Two Parts).
Performances by Metropolitan Opera artists include: Sopranos Martina Arroyo, Carmen Balthrop and Veronica Tyler; Mezzo Sopranos Denyce Graves, Hilda Harris, Barbara Conrad and Florence Quivar; Tenors Curtis Rayam and Seth McCoy; Baritones Ryan Speedo Green and Ben Holt and Bass Mark Doss.
Other vocal artists include: Sopranos Lorain Roberts, Angelique Clay, Louise Toppin, Jayme Alilow, Marquita Lister, Loraine Rodriguez, Laura English-Robinson, A. Grace Lee Mims, Allanda Small, Pamela Dillard, Helen Dilworth, Bernadine Oliphint, Bonnie Savage, Allanda Small, Alpha Floyd, Janet Alcorn, Alejandra Valarino, Gloria Shafran, Lisa Edwards-Burrs, Tiffany Jackson and Gail Robinson Oturu. Mezzo Sopranos Angela Devine, Dorothy Lofton Jones and Patricia Eaton. Counter Tenors Darryl Taylor and Robert Lee. Tenors Roderick George, Robert Mack, Darren Anderson, Paul Adkins, Albert Randolph Lee, Dominic Chenes and Allan Palacious Chan. Baritones Reginald Smith,Jr., Evan Boyer, Uzee Brown, Jr., Mel Foster, Sidney Outlaw, Kenneth Overton, William Dempsey, Niel Davis, Anthony Turner, Edward Pleasant, Peter Lightfoot and William Clarence Marshall. Basses Donnie Ray Albert, Reginald Smith, Jr., Jonathan Stuckey and Eugene Thamon Simpson.
Other instrumental and vocal artists include: Pianists Maria Corley, Thomas Otten, Adam Whiting, Leon Bates, William Chapman Nyaho, Myung-JiLee, Robert Cassidy, Phillip Pfalzgraff, David Garvey, Althea Waites, Halida Dinova, Rochelle Sennet, Jefferson Ethridge, Richard Reber, Joseph Jobert, Dianna White-Gould, Robyn Lanier, Marvin Mills, Armenta Hummings, William Appling, Lucile Soule, Jacqueline Hairston, Anne Dalby, Dolores White and Israela Margalit. Violinists Igor Kalnin, Alcestis Perry, and Laura Simna. Clarinetist Victoria Marra. English hornist Alice Mantey. French hornist Joseph Eger. Bassoonist Michael Dalby. Violist Eliesha Nelson. Organists Marvin Mills, Linda Gardenr, Karel Paukert, James Abbington, Margaret Limkemann, Linda Gardner, Timothy Robson, Leonard Raver, Fern Jennings, Carol Neff, David Blazer and Lavert Stuart. Cellists Kent Collier and Donald White. Bassist Alan von Shenkel. Also The Robert Page Singers & Orchesta, The Mirror Visions Ensemble, The William Appling Singers & Orchestra, The Municipal Opera Company of Baltimore, Inc., The Cavani String Quartet, The Duo MemDi and The Cheah Chan Duo.
Major Citations include: Anderson, Ruth. "H. Leslie Adams, composer." Contemporary American Composers: A Biographical Dictionary. 2nd ed. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982.
Bandfield, William. "H. Leslie Adams, Composer." In: Landscapes in Color: Conversations with Black American Composers. Cpt. 2. Landham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1998.
Dawkins, Darlene. "H. Leslie Adams, Composer--A Man and His Music." Cleveland, Ohio: Clubdate. Vol.8, No.2, Fall, 1987, p. 48-52.
Fain, Kenneth. "Artists and Their Art: Composer H. Leslie Adams." Washington, D.C.: Cultural Post/National Endowment for the Arts, May-June, 1979.
Finn, Robert. "Romantic American Drama Stirs Work on Opera." Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Plain Dealer, January, 1983.
Floyd, Samuel. "International Dictionary of Black Composers." Routlege/Fitzroy Dearbon Publishers, 1999.
Gray, John. "H. Leslie Adams, composer." Blacks in Classical Music--A Bibliographical Guide to Composers, Performers and Ensembles. Westport, Conn.: The Music Reference Collection, No. 15, Greenwood Press, Inc., 1988.
Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 7th ed. New York: Groves Dictionaries Inc., 1999.
Green-Crocheron, Karen. "Meet Composer H. Leslie Adams." Cleveland, Ohio: Galore Magazine, May, 1982.
Holly, Ellistine Perkins, comp. Bibliographies of Black Composers and Songwriters: A Supplementary Textbook. Dubuque: Wm. C. Brown Publishers, 1990, p. 56-7.
Horne, Aaron. Woodwind Music of Black Composers. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990, p.9.
International Dictionary of Black Composers. Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago, 1999. 12th ed., 1990-91.
Moore, Charles. "Twentieth Century Expression & Style: H. Leslie Adams." In: Beyond Technique: An Examination of Musical and Textual Expression from the Baroque to the Twentieth Century: Chapter IV. Thesis; University of Mississippi; Oxford, MS, 2013.
Roach, Hildred. "Composer H. Leslie Adams." Black American Music: Past and Present. Vol. II. Malabar, Fl.: Robert E. Kreiger Publishing Co., 1985. p.72-3.
Small, Allanda Constantina. "H. Leslie Adams' Nightsongs: Poetry, Music and Performance." A Dissertation. University of Southern Mississippi, 2007.
Taylor, Darryl. "Songs of H. Leslie Adams." Journal of Singing, Jan.-Feb. 2008, Vol. 64, No. 3. National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Turner, Diana. "H. Leslie Adams, Composer." Artspace. Vol.6, No.6, Sept./Oct. Columbus, Oh.: Ohio Arts Council, 1983.
White, Evelyn D. Choral Music by Afro-American Composers. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1981, p. 131.
Who's Who in America, [Marquis] current ed.
Who's Who in American Music: Classical. 2nd ed. [Jacques Cattell, ed.] New York.
Who's Who in Entertainment, 1st ed., Wilmette, Il.: Macmillan Directory Division, 1989-90.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia, current ed.
Williams, Yvonne. "The Making of the Opera, Blake., by H. Leslie Adams: An Interview." Detroit Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Music. Josephine Wright and Samuel A. Floyd, eds., Warren, Mich.: Harmonie Park Press, 1991.
H. Leslie Adams Music Archives: Special Collections/Rare Books Division, Cleveland Public Library,Main Branch, Cleveland, Ohio, opened 1997. Over 55 boxes, containing scores, manuscripts, cassettes, compact discs, LP's videocassettes, correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, organizational papers, and personal artifacts documenting the life and work of the composer.
[Library of Congress Call No.ML/40010./A225/A3/1932.]
Smaller collection at Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago; opened 1996.