A CAPELLA GOSPEL QUARTET SINGING
The Birmingham Sunlights are joyous keepers of a deep American tradition, the art of unaccompanied four-part gospel harmony singing. This tradition has an especially brilliant heritage in their home place of Jefferson County, Alabama. Organized by music director and lead tenor James Alex Taylor, this delightful quintet includes James’ brothers Steve and Everett Taylor switching off singing baritone, big brother Barry who sings bass, Reginald Speights (baritone), and Bill Graves singing lead.
Jefferson County is the heartland of African-American a cappella gospel quartet singing, and is home to one of the richest regional traditions in America. Local quartet activity began in the period immediately following World War 1, and had its incubation in the steel mills, mines, and related industries that provided jobs for a large percentage of the area’s black residents. By 1930, Jefferson County had earned a reputation as one of the nation’s great centers of gospel quartet singing.
With deep respect for their musical heritage, the Sunlights sought out and received priceless musical instruction from older local quartet masters, repositories of decades of accumulated wisdom in vocal arrangement, quartet technique, and traditional repertoire. However, they also bring fresh ideas to the quartet format, and have developed a repertoire of impressive original gospel compositions to augment their traditional songbook. This will be a rare opportunity for workshop participants to study the four-part a cappella gospel style.
BLUEGRASS SINGING FOR WOMEN; DUETS
Laurie Lewis, with Tom Rozum, will teach bluegrass singing for women. Laurie Lewis’s stage shows are renowned for their musical virtuosity and front-porch friendliness. She has released over a dozen CDs, won a Grammy for True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe, and twice been named Female Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Tom Rozum mixes traditional bluegrass and old-timey music with Western swing. Rozum was born in New England and lived in Arizona for a time before moving to California; in San Diego, he played with a swing band called the Rhythm Rascals, and upon moving to Berkeley, he worked with the traditional-music outfits Summerdog and Flying South. In 1996, Lewis and Rozum released a duet album The Oak and the Laurel, which was nominated for a Grammy. more about Laurie more about Tom
YODELING AND COWBOY SONGS
Wylie Gustafson’s wild blend of western swing, classic country, cowboy, and folk music is infused with integrity. Despite his successful career as one of America’s most popular traditional entertainers, he still gets up everyday and tends to his livestock. It grounds him, and is the backbone of his art. Although his home base is near Dusty, Washington (population 11), he has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry more than 50 times, and also performs at such prestigious venues as the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the National Folk Festival, Merlefest, A Prairie Home Companion, and The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. He has recorded 12 albums with his band “Wylie & the Wild West,” and was recently honored by the Academy of Western Artists and the Western Music Association with the Yodeler of the Year, and the Best Western Swing Album. And, in case you didn’t know, that’s Wylie’s voice echoing in millions of homes as the ever-familiar Ya-hoo-ooo! in the Yahoo.com advertising campaign.
Christine Balfa Powell is the youngest of the four daughters of Dewey Balfa, one of the finest fiddlers of any style to ever draw a bow. She grew up playing triangle with her father and absorbed music and language from the thriving culture around Basile, Louisiana. She plays guitar and is the primary vocalist in Balfa Toujours, a brilliant young band from Louisiana that has been making a name for itself not only in the Cajun music scene of Southwestern Louisiana, but also in the larger realm of all traditional music Her guitar style is very close to that of her uncle, Rodney Balfa, who was famous for his driving rhythm. Her singing is full of the raw emotion that enables the best Cajun singers to communicate powerful feelings directly to their listeners whether or not they can understand the French lyrics. She collaborates on many of the group’s heartfelt original songs and is the founder and director of Louisiana Folk Roots, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Louisiana traditions.
Mary Lucey will teach a class called "Overcoming Fears with Singing." Her main goal, simply, is to get people singing. She says “Singing can bring such great joy, yet so many folks are afraid to sing outside of their cars or showers. Some of these fears can be overcome by becoming aware of our bodies while we sing and learning how to breathe and relax as much as possible. We will work on relaxing, singing with correct pitch, exploring tone, and singing in time. We will expand repertoire, learning some bluegrass, old time and classic country songs. We will work on expressing individual style while singing and explore how different keys affect your ability to sing. We will also spend time every day singing harmony, because it sounds and feels great!”
Mary Lucey is a singer, songwriter, and the bass player for the original mountain music group The Biscuit Burners. The Biscuit Burners have been in high demand on the festival circuit the last few years, after their debut CD was voted in the Top 10 Bluegrass Albums of the Year by the Chicago Tribune and their follow up album was voted as the Indie Acoustic Project of the Year. She is a popular studio musician for her unique and distinctive harmony singing. Mary teaches private lessons on the bass, and taught bass as well as singing workshops at the California Bluegrass Association Camp last summer. She has also designed an Appalachian cultural music program for The Biscuit Burners which they perform at schools throughout the country.
Jon Wilcox (Marley’s Ghost) will teach the repertoire and style of the music from the Anglo-Celtic tradition, including ballads and how to accompany them. He'll also lead some sessions on "parts"singing, such as how to find a high harmony, or how to find a bass part.
In addition to his records with Marley’s Ghost, Jon has solo recordings on the Folk-Legacy, Sierra-Briar and
Sage Arts labels and has toured internationally as a singer-songwriter and interpreter of traditional American and British Isles music. He’s also intimately familiar with the groves of academe, having graduated from Stanford Law School and taught high school history. Jon has been heavily influenced by the tenor vocal styles of Ralph Stanley and Sam Cooke, the songwriting of Van Morrison and Jesse Winchester and the gospel genius of Sweet Honey in the Rock. Jon's solo CDs on the Sage Arts label are "Song Traveler" and "Still Life."
SIMPLE MUSIC THEORY FOR SINGERS
Jerry Fletcher (Marley’s Ghost) will teach basic music theory specifically as it applies to singing. His sessions will include pitch-matching skills, basic sight-singing, hearing the I, IV, and V chords, recognizing and singing intervals, finding harmony parts, and ear training. At the music academy that he founded he is renowned for his ability to put his students at ease.
Jerry sings and plays drums, percussion, and keyboards. He’s been in the music business for over 30 years performing, touring, and recording, working with John Denver, Steve Martin, Jimmy Rodgers and the Dirt band to name a few. He has a B.A. from the California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks Ca. with a major in voice and a minor in piano. After many years working as a musician and teacher he started his own branch of Junior Music Academy (which is a music school for young children) In Kalispell MT. His solo CD is entitled We're Here To Love.
The entire Marley’s Ghost band will be in residence, with some members
teaching at Voiceworks, some at the Slide and Steel workshop, and some
SONGS OF THE CARTER FAMILY
Linda Lay began singing in church and on stages when she was six years old. She’s from Bristol, Virginia, a city at the center of one of the nation’s richest breeding grounds for traditional musicians, the place where the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers were first recorded in 1927. She grew up in a family string band, often hearing local tradition-keeper Ralph Stanley, and one of her favorite people on earth is Jeanette Carter – the sole surviving member of the original Carter Family. Linda’s wonderous vocal power and incredibly timed bass playing made her a local favorite while she was still in her early teens. Linda has performed on many famous stages and in well-known halls, but her favorite place to play remains the Carter Family Fold, a performance place at Hiltons, Virginia, west of Bristol, and operated with strict discipline and good humor by Jeanette. "I have a Bristol sound," Linda says. "I’m proud of the music that was given to me."
Linda sang lead and played bass with Appalachian Trail, one of the most respected bluegrass bands to come out of this bluegrass heartland, and currently sings with the Stony Point Quartet and Springfield Exit.
David Lay plays guitar and sings the low harmony part in the Springfield Exit. He grew up in the coalfields of Virginia and in the little towns of the tobacco and vegetable farmlands of northeastern Tennessee, always wanted to be a farmer, and he is. But David has also always been a musician. Singing in church was learned as he learned to walk, and he developed a keen ear for the traditional music of the region.