Professors Beyond the Classroom: Dr. Vince Bacote

Beloved for bringing the Bible to life in the theology classroom, Dr. Bacote is also an avid bass guitar player. From jam sessions with a band in seminary to Faculty Battle of the Bands at Wheaton, he’s performed on stages in churches and schools.

Words: Cassidy Keenan ’21
Photos: Josh and Alexa Adams

Wheaton College IL Vince Bacote bass guitar

Dr. Vincent Bacote is well-known on Wheaton’s campus for his compelling classes in the biblical and theological studies department, or for being the director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics. However, in the last decade, he could have been spotted around campus in quite a different role—rocking the bass guitar in a Stupe performance or in the faculty Battle of the Bands event. Dr. Bacote has been drawn to the bass since the sixth grade, but never imagined there would be a venue to pursue it. He dreamed of being every player in a rock band, admiring the music from a young age and studying how all the elements fit together. Around the age of 25, when he was studying in seminary, he got his first bass, started lessons, and began to really play. His second bass teacher connected him with a group of guys who were forming a band and were in need of a bass player.

“I kept telling them, ‘I really can’t. I can’t play with you guys,’” Dr. Bacote said, recalling how he had only been playing for three years at the time. “And the leader of the band just kept saying, ‘Oh, I bet you could.’”

Dr. Bacote traveled further into the world of the bass by playing with a group of musicians in seminary and eventually playing bass for the choir at a Black Baptist church in New Jersey. The latter led him to purchase his first five-string bass, learn to play more contemporary Gospel music, and majorly expand his craft. He subsequently came to Wheaton, and his opportunity to play the bass arose again around 2010 when Wheaton students came up with the idea for the Haiti-Wheaton Partnership and organized the Faculty Battle of the Bands in order to raise money. Dr. Bacote participated, putting together his “Band of Ringers,” a group that lasted for many years and featured several gifted and enthusiastic student musicians. This group consisted of many talented drummers and guitarists in addition to his own bass, and they performed at the Battle of the Bands for four years in a row. They even played a set in The Stupe once, which was received with great enthusiasm by their audience.

Now Dr. Bacote encourages music and artistic pursuits in his family. “My wife comes from a family where everybody sings, and her dad was a choir director,” Dr. Bacote said. “And we encourage our daughters with theater. I just really like opening the door, saying, ‘Hey, they’re interested,’ and finding a way to do it.” Both of Dr. Bacote’s daughters have been heavily involved in the arts for most of their lives, and one of them even starred in several shows at Wheaton’s own Arena Theater.

In addition to playing the bass, Dr. Bacote is an avid tennis player and serves as the faculty academic partner for the men’s tennis team at Wheaton. He is invested in becoming the best player he can be, but he jokes that he blames everything that’s wrong with his game on Roger Federer. “He always looks like he’s not trying, so I get lulled into thinking, well, I can probably do that,” said Dr. Bacote. “But there’s a reason why he’s Roger.”


Wheaton College IL Vince Bacote bass guitar