James McKay


If you ask James for his mantra, he will respond, “Music is the door.”The University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music graduate, can attest to the transformative impact music maintains in his life. He is the youngest of two children born to a modest working-class family in Normandy, Missouri. James is a 2017 Teacher of the Year Honoree for Jennings School District where he is the Director of Orchestras. James credits his success to God and a series of music teachers who made investments in his life as far back as the fourth grade.

Consequently, James has dedicated his life to creating doors of opportunities for youth through the founding of Gateway Music Outreach and his occupation as a certified K-12 Instrumental Music Educator for over two decades in various school districts in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Also, James has served as Director of Cameron Youth Chamber Orchestra, St. Louis, Missouri; string camp facilitator New City School, St. Louis, Missouri; and double bass teacher, Webster Community Music School, Webster Groves, Missouri. He is a classical and gospel music composer and arranger, as well.

James is a champion for collaboration. Accordingly, he is a member of the following organizations, St. Louis Youth Symphony Task Force, Jazz St. Louis Advisory Board, M.O.A.S.T.A. and the Missouri Music Educators Association.

Finally, as an African American, orchestral educator and musician, James is committed to exposing diverse audiences to classical music. He continues to provide budding young musicians in underserved communities with access to affordable quality music instruction, and opportunities to attend performances and receive master classes with prominent artists.