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Monday, March 1

KRISTA MCKENZIE

KRISTA MCKENZIE

Krista Overby (born Krista Bridges, June 17, 1980) is an American gospel artist. Her singing career launched around the tender age of 6 in following her dad, Pastor Leander Bridges to many revivals. She comes from a long line of talented singers dating back to her grandfather, Arthur Ray Bridges, who was a member of a legendary Mississippi gospel group consisting of 5 brothers, The 5 Gospel Singers. She and her 2 brothers are all gifted musicians. Her melodious sound was unleashed and became even more refined as she studied voice as a high school junior under the instruction of Mrs. Wanda Saul. She was one of the few who believed in Krista's ability and has continued to support her over the years. She also studied under the great composer and conductor, Dr. Raymond Wise. Krista holds degrees in Music Education from Jones County Junior College, and a BA in vocal performance from the University of Southern MS where she continues to perform in musical stage productions.  Her versatile style ranges from her favorite, which is praise and worship; to hymns, traditional and contemporary gospel, and even opera.

In her professional career, Krista is an experienced choral director, pianist and vocal coach. She has accompanied her brother, Leander Bridges, II to Carnegie Hall with the award-winning Laurel High School gospel choir for 2 consecutive years in 2013 and 2014. She formerly served as the school district’s choral instructor. Under her direction, this choir did its first live recording in May, 2016.  Krista conducts church choir workshops and voice lessons. 2011 was a groundbreaking year with the debut release of her self-composed project, For His Glory, one of her greatest accomplishments. Also in that year, she accompanied Dr. Wise abroad to Czech Republic for the Prague Gospel Showcase where she sang a stellar rendition of Hallowed Be Thy Name and received a standing ovation and encore presentation. Krista and her family frequently travel to Trinidad on mission trips where she continues to break barriers worldwide for the Kingdom of God. In 2014, her passion and purpose took her to Ithaca, NY twice where she performed the nostalgic gospel of 12 Gates in the City livestream at Ithaca College collaborating with conductor, Stan Spottswood and the Ithaca College choir and orchestra.

In 2016, she released her 2nd project entitled God Is Real, dedicated to her grandmother, and with the bonus track, The Grace of God.  She has opened for gospel artists such as Jekalyn Carr and William Murphy, III, Paul Porter, Shirley Caesar, Beverly Crawford, Vanessa Bell-Armstrong, Yolanda Adams, JJ Hairston, Rance Allen, Paul Morton, Jonathan Nelson, Marvin Sapp, and Tamela Mann just to name a few. 

Krista expounded upon her career as a soloist in the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration filmed and broadcast on the MS Public Broadcast Channel. She appeared in the Motown Revue, Elvis Revue, and Christmas Cabaret with the Natchez Music Festival, In February 2018, Krista appeared in the gospel stage play, Church Hurts at the Historical Saenger Theater in Hattiesburg, MS, and the lead role in the stage play, I Hate My In-laws, as well as the lead role in the gospel stage play Well Worth the Wait. Most importantly, she humbly serves wholeheartedly at her church, Springhill M.B. Church, Ellisville, MS where she is the Music Director/Worship Leader and has been for twenty years.  Krista McKenzie continues to shine her light in every arena and in any capacity. As a devoted mother to her 3 children, it is imperative that she makes a positive impact by being a true vessel and a great role model to her family as well as the generation of millennials who greatly admire her. She is recently married to the man of her dreams and is currently completing her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.   

Tuesday March 2

ANGELA BROWN

ANGELA BROWN

Soprano Angela Brown’s multi-genre career has been lauded on the front page of The New York Times, CNN, CBS, in Oprah Magazine and Reader's Digest. With classical and pops engagements spanning six continents, Angela has graced the leading opera and symphonic stages of the world.

Her vocal artistry is featured on the two-time Grammy Award® winning recording “Ask Your Mama.” Her voice is the inspiration for new works including a symphonic song cycle and two principal opera roles. American composer Richard Danielpour set the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou to create the work “A Woman’s Life” that Angela has performed with Pittsburgh Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra and recorded for the Naxos label with Nashville Symphony Orchestra. The opera roles of Addie Parker in Daniel Schneider’s Charlie Parker’s Yardbird and Cilla in Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner were both written for, premiered by, and reprised many times by Angela.

Angela’s most recent endeavor is the founding of Morning Brown, Inc., a nonprofit with the mission of bridging the gap between accessible, live-music programs and underserved individuals, schools, and communities. Drawing on the success of Angela’s groundbreaking show, Opera…from a Sistah’s Point of View©1997, Morning Brown, Inc., works to bring cultural experiences and awareness to cultural deserts. In Spring 2020, she launched a new podcast with Classical Music Indy and co-host Joshua Thompson titled “Melanated Moments in Classical Music” that was named Best Black Music Podcast of 2020 by the Black Podcasting Awards. She is featured in the 2021 PBS documentary on the life of Marian Anderson, Voice of Freedom, a production of the most-watched documentary series American Experience.

ROSEPHANYE DUNN POWELL

ROSEPHANYE DUNN POWELL

Dr. Rosephanye Dunn Powell has been hailed as one of America’s premier women composers of choral music. She has an impressive catalogue of works published by some of the nation’s leading publishers, including the Hal Leonard Corporation, the Fred Bock Music Company/Gentry Publications, Oxford University Press, Alliance Music Publications, and Shawnee. Dr. Powell is commissioned yearly to compose for university choruses, professional, community and church choirs, as well as secondary school choruses.  Dr. Powell’s works have been conducted and premiered by nationally-renowned choral conductors, including, but not limited to, Anton Armstrong, Philip Brunelle, Bob Chilcott, Rodney Eichenberger, Tom Hall, Albert McNeil, Tim Seelig, and André Thomas.  Her work has been auctioned by Chorus America and her compositions are in great demand at choral festivals around the country, frequently appearing on the regional and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, as well as Honor Choir festivals.  Dr. Powell’s compositions include sacred and secular works for mixed chorus, women’s chorus, men’s chorus, and children’s voices. Dr.  Powell serves as Professor of Voice at Auburn University.  She holds degrees from The Florida State University (D.M. in vocal performance, University Fellow), Westminster Choir College (M.M. in vocal performance and pedagogy, with distinction), and Alabama State University (B.M.E., summa cum laude). Dr. Powell served on the faculties of Philander Smith College (AR) and Georgia Southern University prior to her arrival at Auburn University in 2001.

An accomplished singer and voice professor, Dr. Powell’s research focuses on the art of the African-American spiritual and voice care concerns for voice professionals (specifically, music educators, choral directors, and choral singers). She travels the country and internationally presenting lectures, song demonstrations, and serving as a workshop clinician, conductor, and adjudicator for solo vocal competitions/auditions, honor choirs, choral workshops and festivals. 

NICOLE JOY MITCHELL

NICOLE JOY MITCHELL

Nicole Joy Mitchell (Contralto) is a proud native of Brooklyn, New York. She performs regularly in the New York area with American Opera Projects (AOP), which promotes the works of new composers. Nicole has performed at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, Lincoln Center Festival, New York City Opera, Sarasota Opera, and overseas at the Semperoper in Dresden, Teatro di San Carlo, Landestheater in Austria, and the Festival de Wiltz. In 2017, Nicole made her debut with Portland Opera in a double-bill of David Lang operas The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (her voice is on the recording released in 2015), and the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera The Little Match Girl Passion. This winter Nicole will head to Boston, MA, to sing the rarely performed work of Julia Perry’s Stabat Mater with the chamber orchestra A Far Cry at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In May Ms. Mitchell will appear as the Empress in the world premiere of the opera The Nightingale and The Tower (music by Jason Treuting and Beth Myers, libretto by Rebecca Comerford) with Ojai Youth Opera, where she has shared her love of opera and art songs with Ojai Youth Opera Workshop students for the past several summers. 

TONY MCNEILL

 TONY MCNEILL

Dr. Tony McNeill affectionately known at “Dr. T.,” is a sought-after workshop clinician, lecturer, consultant, mentor, and guest choral conductor throughout the country. He currently serves Director of Choral activities at Clinton College and previously served as Interim Choral Director at Texas Southern University (TSU). Prior to arriving at TSU, Dr. McNeill served almost five years as the Director of Worship and the Arts at Atlanta’s Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, “America’s Freedom Church.” In addition to his work at TSU, Dr. McNeill is a member of the staff of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary (JCSTS), based in Atlanta, where he serves as Program Director for the JCSTS Certificate in Worship Leadership. Dr. McNeill also renders his gifts as a Visiting Artist at the Park Avenue Christian Church of New York City.

Dr. McNeill earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Appalachian State University, with an emphasis in piano and choral music, a Master’s degree in choral conducting from Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL), and a Doctorate of Worship Studies from the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies (Jacksonville, FL).

Q. SMITH

Q. SMITH

Q. Smith:  A proud graduate from Ithaca College. She was one of the first to receive a BFA in Musical Theatre from IC. Q. is currently in the Tony award-winning show Come From Away playing the role of Hannah. Other Broadway credits include Mary Poppins and the 1st revival of  Les Miserables. Off Broadway:  Fame: The Musical  where she played Mabel Washington and recorded the cast album. Other favorites include tours of A Night With Janis Joplin,  Smokey Joe's Cafe starring Gladys Knight, Abyssinia; A Gospel Celebration with Wynton Marsalis, and Showboat in concert at Carnegie Hall. Q. Enjoys teaching and is currently developing a curriculum called. Rehabilitative and Comprehensive Art Conditioning that helps students with behavioral problems and learning disabilities retain their curriculum through the arts. She is also working on finishing her book Queens of the Theatre about women of color in theatre, television, and film. She resides in New York City with her husband and 1 year old baby boy.

Thursday, March 4

LOUISE TOPPIN

LOUISE TOPPIN

Louise Toppin is a noted performer, scholar and professor who specializes in the concert repertoire of African American composers. In the span of her career, more than 30 songs and 2 operas have been written expressly for her voice. In addition, she has sung the world premiere of 30 more songs and arias of contemporary composers. As the administrator of the George Shirley Vocal Competition for the past nine years and Videmus (a non-profit organization that promotes the concert repertoire of African American and women composers) for more than twenty-five years, she encourages the performance and scholarship of African American compositions by students and scholars through recordings, conference presentation, live performances, and lectures.  

She was previously Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to that she served as Area Head of Voice and the Associate Chair for Performance, Composition and Music Education at UNC. Earlier positions include East Carolina University, Bowling Green State University and Eastern Michigan University. Currently, she is Professor of Voice at The University of Michigan.