2017 SongRoots Instructors
Brian Tate is a Vancouver vocalist, composer/arranger and choral conductor. Brian directs the 100-voice City Soul Choir and gives choir and singing workshops worldwide. Many of his choral works have been published and his music is performed internationally. Brian performs as a jazz vocalist and sings with the world music a cappella vocal trio “TriVo”. He also teaches singing and choir at Studio 58, Langara College’s professional theatre school.
Frank A. Watkins, a native of Omaha Nebraska, taught secondary choral music in Texas for six years. He holds degrees in piano performance from Jackson State University (BM), the University of Arkansas (MM), and choral conducting from Northwestern University (MM) and Michigan State University (DMA). Watkins is in demand as guest conductor and clinician. A dynamic young conductor, Watkins’ love and passion are teaching. He believes that in order to educate, you must first inspire! It is his goal to make an impact…not just an impression on the lives of those that follow his baton.
Heidi McCurdy is a singer, songwriter, author, and Expressive Arts Therapist. Shedraws on an eclectic array of influences for her unique blend of Global-Jazz-Soul, and her songs have been played on radio and TV. She has also been an avid vocal improviser for 25 years, and has performed with Rhiannon, Laurel Murphy, various dance groups and collective ensembles. She has a BFA in Creative Writing, and writes articles and stories about the transformational magic of the creative process. With over 20 years performing, writing and teaching, she specializes in creating a safe space for participants to express themselves and awaken their own creativity.
Jennifer Scott is a singer and pianist born in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She specializes in jazz, blues, and world music. She is considered one of the more important jazz artists working in Canada and the United States today. As well as being a performer, she arranges and writes jazz and pop tunes, with several CDs containing a combination of original tunes, tunes she has arranged, and more traditional tunes. She has also appeared on many CBC recordings and has worked with many other musicians both live and in studio.
Jenny Lester is a dynamic Bluegrass performer and recording artist who has established herself as an important singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her original songs are carefully crafted in the bluegrass convention while displaying a contemporary freshness and that breathes new life into the fabled “high lonesome” sound. She studied at South Plains College in Texas and has three Golden Reel awards.
Karla Mundy is a vibrant, soulful and diverse vocalist, pianist, arranger and choir leader. Karla directs Rhythm ‘n’ Roots and Harmony Mountain Singers in Vancouver, the Island Soul Choir on Vancouver Island and EarthSounds on Bowen Island. Karla leads harmony singing workshops throughout BC and organizes many singing camps, workshops and singing study trips abroad. Karla is a founding member of the No Sh!t Shirleys, TriVo, Cleia and Plough. She released her first solo CD called ‘Way Back’ in 2012 and is a Mom!
Michael Creber is one of the West Coast’s most sought-after musicians, both onstage and in the recording studio. A Grammy-nominated producer, and a Juno award winner, his career as a keyboardist, composer, teacher and producer embraces many areas of music including jazz, rock, gospel and R&B. He has performed and recorded with kd lang, Raffi, the Rankin Sisters, Petula Clark, David Foster, Shirley Bassey, Powder Blues, John Sebastian, Cyndi Lauper, Dee Daniels, Phil Nimmons and many others. During the last few years, Michael has kept busy writing scores for film and television, producing CDs, teaching, and keeping up a full performance schedule. Michael has three albums of original music which have been featured on CBC Radio’s nationally broadcast JazzBeat, and on Vancouver’s Hot Air.
Mollie Stone serves as Assistant Director of Choirs at the University of Chicago, Director of World Music and a conductor at Chicago Children’s Choir, Co-founder/Director of the Brooklyn and Chicago World Music Choruses, and a teacher for Village Harmony. Ms. Stone holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College, a Master of Music degree in conducting from Westminster Choir College, a Doctorate in choral conducting at Northwestern University, and has studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
Ms. Stone currently lectures and gives workshops on black South African choral music across the United States and Europe, and recently produced a series of world music teaching DVDs for choirs (Raising the Bar) with Patty Cuyler of Village Harmony through their organization, the Choral Imperative: www.thechoralimperative.com.
Samantha Taylor is a versatile and engaging singer, choir director, arranger, and voice teacher. She directs two community choirs in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, and teaches workshops on group harmony singing, embodied vocal techniques, improvisation and composition. Samantha co-founded Singing and Yoga retreats based in the Gulf Islands as well as Estuarium Arts Company – a multi-disciplinary performing arts school based in the Fraser Valley. She was a founding member of the acclaimed female sextet, the Shirleys. Emphasizing experiential learning and oral tradition, Samantha’s approach is widely accessible and inspires whole-hearted participation from people with all levels of musical experience.
Steve Charles is a composer and performer from Vancouver. He works extensively in theatre, music directing small and large ensembles and arranging and sound designing for diverse situations. This year his work has been featured in Chelsea Hotel, (Firehall Theatre), Love Bomb (Shameless Hussies), Miss Shakespeare (Escape Artists), Othello (Bard on the Beach) and Galala (TV Unis). He performs as a multi-instrumentalist and is delighted to be working with Karla Mundy and the team at Songroots this summer!
Ali Romanow is a multi-instrumentalist and music educator based in British Columbia. Competent on a variety of instruments Ali also brings her captivating vocals, original writing and arranging to whatever project she is currently focused on. When she is not on the road with Vancouver indie collective the Fugitives, Ali spends her time in Courtenay BC, where she directs the FolkHarmonic Orchestra.
Wendy is passionate about all aspects of music – organizing workshops, teaching, collaborating, and playing. From her living room to being on-stage to time in the studio, Wendy sings, plays guitar, accordion, upright bass, ukulele and fiddle. She plays a broad variety of genres, ranging from Celtic, folk, gypsy jazz, Brazilian choro, to French café music, and western swing. Wendy has the great pleasure of teaching accordion, guitar, ukulele and fiddle to kids of all ages in Courtenay, BC.