Burke writes: "I was born in St. Louis into a family of teachers. My aunt was the first black woman to earn a doctorate from St. Louis University. She was a major influence in my life and introduced me to Martin Luther King, Jr. when I was young. I began to dedicate my life to music when I began my music studies at age 12. My instruments were piano and organ but I also sang."
Burke is an active member of Unitarian Universalists Musicians Network (UUMN). He served as a member of the UUA New Hymn Resource Task Force, which was appointed in the Fall of 2003 to create a new congregational hymn resource. Singing the Journey debuted at the 2005 UUA General Assembly to enthusiastic reviews.
Burke has won the Arts for Life Award for Best Achievement in Musical Direction for his work with Spotlight Theater's production of Titanic in 2003. Other productions with the Spotlight Theater (Chicago, Jekyll and Hyde, West Side Story) were honored with nominations for Best Musical Production, and two more nominations for Burke for Best Musical Director. All the nominated productions were performed at Marquette High School during the summers.
Leon Burke III is on the roster of cover conductors for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He made his SLSO concert conducting debut on February 21, 2009, leading the orchestra, the symphony's IN UNISON Chorus, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis Community Chorus as part of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra's annual Lift Every Voice: Black History Month Celebration concert. The second half of the concert featured A Tribute to Mae Wheeler.