Richard Whitehead

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Jazz Guitar


Armstrong 18-B

(540) 665-5567

Faculty Member since 1987

Whiteheads style encompasses the entire history of jazz guitar - the chordal solos of Joe Pass, the bop lines of Barney Kessel, the octaves of Wes Montgomery, the fluid melodicism of Tal Farlow, the rhythmic push of Django Reinhardt, even the controlled noise of more modern players. [He is] clearly comfortable working in any song form and style. Eric Brace, The Washington Post.

Applied Area(s)

Guitar, Jazz


Jazz Guitar Ensemble


B.A., University of Mia

Professional Highlights

  • Rick Whitehead was the featured guitar soloist for the USAF Bands Airmen of Note for 22 years and toured throughout the United States, Far East, and South America with the group.
  • Originally from Miami, Whitehead started playing the guitar at age 11. By the time he was 18, he was performing on Shows on the Beach and worked with Connie Francis, Sandler and Young, Jayne Morgan, Glen Campbell and others. Whitehead can be heard on more than 30 recordings. While with the Airmen of Note some of the notables in jazz he performed and recorded with are vocalists Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Sue Raney and guitarists Mundell Lowe, Johnny Smith, and Roy Clark. He also worked with Dianne Schuur, Billy Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Jr. and Charlie Byrd. During this time he appeared with the band on the Tonight Show, the Mike Douglas Show, Nashville Now, and performed at many major Jazz Festivals across the United States including Newport, Monterey, and Mobile. He performed at The East Coast Jazz Festival in February 2005. In July 2005, he performed at The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz.
  • In the Washington Metro area, some of the venues in which he and his trio have performed are: Blues Alley, Bohemian Caverns, the Smithsonian Jazz Caf, the IOTA Club, the John F. Kennedy Centers Millennium Stage, and at Rams Head Tavern and 49 West in Annapolis, MD. During the summer of 2004 he performed with his trio in concert at the Washington National Cathedral and Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia. The trio is a regular in the Basin Street Lounge at the 219 Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2004 and 2005, Whitehead was a featured soloist with the Masterworks Jazz Orchestra at George Mason University, as well as the Georgetown University Jazz Ensemble. In the spring of 2005 he made his second solo appearance as part of the Corcoran Gallerys Armand Hammer Jazz Series, and appeared with renown bassist, Keter Betts, in the Montpelier Jazz Series in Laurel, MD.
  • His first CD, Live in Captivity, with members of his trio, John Previti on bass and drummer, Barry Hart, won the Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Award in 1998 for best Contemporary Jazz Album. The trio released their second CD, Live in Captivity Again, in 2001. In 2003, Whitehead released his first solo CD, Notes from Home, receiving rave reviews in The Washington Post/ and Just Jazz Guitar magazine. The Rick Whitehead Trio was nominated as Best Jazz Ensemble in the WAMMIE 2004 awards.
  • Retired from the Air Force in 1991, Rick Whitehead is in constant demand as a guitarist throughout the Metro area. In addition to teaching at Shenandoah, he also teaches at George Mason University and in his home studio. He has led clinics at the Mobile Jazz Festival, the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, the International Association for Jazz Educators, and many schools and colleges throughout the United States.