Dr. Curtis earned a Bachelor of Music from North Park University in Chicago; Master of Arts from The Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Stockton, California; and Doctor of Education from The University of the Pacific, also in Stockton, where he studied composition with Ron Caviani and Stan Beckler. He undertook graduate studies at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and at The Juilliard School of Music in New York. He was a 1993 Ford Foundation Fellow to the National Council for Black Studies Conference in Accra, Ghana. He also studied at the University of Ghana at Lagon.
Dr. Curtis is the recipient of the 2004-05 University of North Carolina Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award, was named the 2003-04 FSU Teacher of the Year, received the 2002 BC Powder Excellence in Teaching Finalist Award from GlaxoWellcome, and received the Teacher of the Year Award for the year 2000 from the Department of Performing and Fine Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences of Fayetteville State University.