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 local luminaries Laura Caviani and Sean Turner.
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 has received air-play on Minnesota Public Radio’s program, “Pipe Dreams.” She is a veteran musician for Methodist, Lutheran, and Catholic churches, with specialty in contemporary worship band leading, including at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.
Cheri currently performs with the 12-piece funk dance band, Emerson Avenue Band, as well as the Swing Sisterhood Big Band. She is longtime leader and arranger for her own five-piece combo, Wild Honey and the Locusts, as featured on Jazz88 FM’s program, “Jazz and the Spirit,” as well as KARE-11 TV’s “Minnesota Showcase.”
Master Certified with the Minnesota Music Teachers Association (MMTA), she helped write the groundbreaking MMTA Popular Styles Syllabus. She is a recipient of the Maureen Conway Award for Inspiring Teaching, from the Keys 4/4 Kids non-profit in St. Paul. She established Sykes Piano Studio in 2009.