Minneapolis-based Cheri Sykes brings to her music an extraordinary array of keyboard skills and styles. While trained classically, she has a passion for jazz and other popular idioms, which began with early exposure to Dave Brubeck and the Beatles.
Cheri earned her B.A. in piano from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where formal studies were in Chopin and Bach, while she participated in Eau Claire’s noted jazz program. She subsequently studied jazz piano with Laura Caviani and Sean Turner of St. Paul’s McNally Smith College of Music.
Cheri’s classical keyboard studies continued with a Masters in Sacred Music-Organ from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, with special interest is hymn improvisation. She is a thirty-year musician for Methodist, Lutheran, and Catholic churches, as organist and leader of worship bands and choirs. She’s served as director of contemporary worship at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.
For eight years, Cheri served as music director for a 10,000-member church in a St. Paul suburb, where she founded the combo Wild Honey. The group has been featured on Jazz88 FM’s program, “Jazz and the Spirit,” as well as KARE-11 TV’s “Minnesota Showcase.” Cheri is arranger, leader and keyboardist (www.wildhoneyandthelocusts.com).
Cheri is an in-demand solo pianist for special events, notably for Garrison Keillor. She is a longtime private instructor in piano and guitar, today operating Sykes Piano Studio in Osseo.
Cheri’s curiosity has taken her on a rich journey. Her lifelong desire to understand the greater questions of meaning led her to studies in theology, as she earned a Masters in Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, continuing with two years of doctoral study in Theology and Personality Theory. However, music remains her primary passion!