Moira Smiley of Voice Works

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Registration for our 2024 Workshop opens January 2, 2024

About Voice Works

June 25-30, 2024

Singing opens doors to other cultures and languages, and it makes you feel good! Come to Centrum to work beside world-class artists and passionate singers to create a rare community, safe for participants of all levels to participate. You’ll learn about breathing, phrasing, dynamics, how to make your voice blend, and what makes your voice unique.

If you can’t help singing, or if you’ve always wanted to sing with others but for whatever reason you don’t, you should plan to be at this workshop.

Vocal workshop at Centrum in Port Townsend

Attend The Next Voice Works

June 25 - 30, 2024 

Voice Works Facts

  • Artistic Director: Pharis Romero
  • Established in 2005
  • What you’ll learn: Deep listening, how to harmonize, vocal anatomy, blending voices, stage presence, finding your key, phrasing, vowels, pitch, and emoting
  • Forms: blues, ballads, honky tonk, bossa nova, gypsy swing, sacred harp, folk, and songs from other cultures, such as Cajun and Mexican

Experience Voice Works

Discover the different ways that singing brings joy to your life whether it’s belting it out or blending with others in community. Classes have no size limit unless noted.

2023 Workshop closed, check back for 2024 registration in November, or join Centrum email list for updates.


2023 Class Descriptions:

Morning Warmup: Yoga for Singers – Reeb Willms
Through gentle movement and breath work, practice somatic awareness in the body with attention toward areas in our bodies integral to singing: pelvic floor diaphragm, thoracic diaphragm, heart, head, and throat.

Listening, Learning and Singing – Eli West
Starting with a deep listening session, we choose a song and listen to every version we can find. We discuss the context of each recording, what influenced the outcome, and analyze the evolution of the song. We then arrange and sing in duos and trios, identifying what influences inform our versions. No instruments necessary, but welcome.

Singing for Solo & Duo Performance – Eli West
Let’s explore how to deliver a song powerfully without a full band. How do we find the right key for our voice? What can we do mentally to deliver the goods? We practice singing to the person in the back of the room, visualizing tossing a ball, and other soft skills to send it out. Two-part harmonies are introduced with analysis on how to be small and mighty. Primary instruments encouraged.

Introduction to Sacred Harp Music – Bridge Hill Kennedy
Sacred Harp Level 1
In this interactive class, we cover the rudiments of Sacred Harp music: Solfege (scales), time signature, keeping time, accent, and leading. All class members are encouraged to learn the tenor line and then branch out into parts. Class/plain tunes as well as fugues are covered.

Elevating the Voices – Bridge Hill Kennedy
Sacred Harp Level 2
Each day, in this space, we take time to SAVE (Share, Acknowledge, Validate, and Elevate) the voices of trans singers. This class covers more advanced rudiments, and we will “queer” our voices, allowing room to switch parts and learn how Sacred Harp music is ideal for the voices of the gender expansive.
Classic Honky Tonk Country Songs for the Dance Hall – Caleb Klauder
What makes it honky tonk and not just any old song? Community gathering around dance is an age-old tradition. Here we learn how to move a dance floor and what makes a good dance song. Whether it is country shuffle, waltz, fast and slow two beats, or blues, different rhythm feels create different dynamics.

Old-Time Ballads – Reeb Willms
Ballads are one of our earliest forms of storytelling through poetry and song. This workshop covers long ballads, holding attention by telling a tale, and learning history as we work through traditional material. English and Irish ballads, American ballads, and on forward are explored through your voice.

Duet Singing – Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms
Duet singing has never been this good. Learn how to build harmonies from the ground up; discuss duet singing techniques; blend voices; combine voices with different vocal ranges; and match pitch, energy, emotion and volume.

Around the World with Nikki Dee
Sing and understand classic standard tunes in their original languages! We’ll explore the worlds of gypsy swing and Bossa Nova in two non-phonetic languages — French and Brazilian Portuguese — with exercises and warm-ups using sounds that don’t exist in English. We also touch on techniques to use with phonetic languages like Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, and Hawaiian, working on listening skills and accent precision.

Vocal Technique: The Deeva Method – Nikki Dee
The Deeva Method of vocal technique is rooted in a unique combination of Bel Canto (classical), musical theater & pop technique, and Eastern/Taoist energy work. We will work in four distinct areas: mindset, vocal anatomy, breath & bodywork, and implementation, with the eventual goal of self-diagnosis and self-correction. Let’s demystify the inner workings of your vocal instrument so you can sing with more confidence and power than you ever thought possible!

Your Own Wild Voice – Moira Smiley
Singing has bubbled up to serve so many moments across human history. We learn some wilder ways of singing from traditional songs and explore our own vocal freedom in the process.

Improvising & Song Making Together – Moira Smiley
Games, exercises, group and (a little) solo improvisation to build ease, joy, and creativity into your singing.

Early Vocal Stylings and Inspirations from Blind Willie Johnson to Percy Mayfield – Johnny Nicholas
Dive deep into traditional blues from Lonnie Johnson to Howlin’ Wolf. Heree, we explore primitive Gospel roots from Blind Willie Johnson to the Soul Stirrers and Swan Silvertones. This includes ensemble singing, harmonies, and call and response. Have fun singing rhythm and blues of the 50s and 60s including Allen Toussaint, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Percy Mayfield. Let go and have fun. This class is offered twice daily.

Listen, Chat, Sing – Mara Kaye, with Tim McNalley
Oh, the joys of listening to our favorite singers and figuring out what makes them sound so damn good! We will listen, dissect, and learn select tunes of some of the greatest blues and jazz singers of our time. Studying their legendary work paves the way for conversation and allows us a deeper understanding of why telling the story through song is imperative for expression and connection.

A Singer’s Guide to Storytelling – Mara Kaye, with Tim McNalley
Participants should come prepared with a memorized song of their choosing that they feel a strong connection with, preferably of the blues/jazz repertoire.
Through the brave and transformative act of singing, we learn how to connect to the stories of songs we love and free our voices in the process. We will use the blues as our guide to explore the richness and depth of storytelling through song, phrasing, and lyric coloring. These classes and coaching sessions help you find and love your own voice, and sing the stories of your soul.

Notes from a Singers Lips – Grace Love
Explore stage presence, song choice, and finding your voice.
An Alternative Choir Experience – Grace Love
Maximum class size of 30

Masterclass with Karin Plato – Karin Plato
Come to Masterclass to sing your song and discover additional ideas to shape and shift your performance. We each sing from within a familiar “comfort box” and sometimes that can be improved upon or added to with a mentor/teacher’s observations and guidance. There is no “right and wrong,” merely different ideas as we identify all of the possibilities and try to “serve the song.”

Vocal Jazz/Jazz Standards/the Jazz Vocalist 101 – Karin Plato
Beautiful songs to include in establishing your vocal jazz repertoire of swing standards, blues, and more. Let's swing! Let's waltz! Let's slow things right down and sing the ballad's story. Karin will share songs by familiar composers including Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Duke Ellington as well as songs by lesser known composers. Let's explore the elements that make some of these timeless songs popular in the current vocal jazz repertoire.

Song as Community – Khari Wendell McClelland
Look toward Black America’s traditional forms as a way to explore the purpose and function of song in community.

Quick and Dirty: Singing, songwriting and performing the iterative way – Khari Wendell McClelland
We don’t aim to create the perfect offering every time, we aim to learn as we go, finding grace as we stumble in the direction of better. In this workshop, we learn how to meet challenge and discomfort as singers, songwriters, and performers.

Bluegrass Lead Singing – Yosef Tucker
Phrasing, vowels, pitch, ornaments, and emoting are all covered as we focus on bluegrass music and singing.

Bluegrass Harmony Singing – Yosef Tucker
Sing like Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and the Osborne Brothers as you learn how to blend with others (tone, vowels, phrasing), and the traditional stack, high stack, and low stack of the greats.

Voice Works Faculty

Photo of Nikki Dee

Nikki Dee


Nikki Dee is an award-winning vocalist and transformational vocal coach based in Honolulu. Her renowned Deeva Method takes the mystery and confusion out of vocal technique, making vocal power, confidence, and healing accessible to singers and speakers around the world.

Photo of Bridge Hill Kennedy

Bridge Hill Kennedy


Dr. Kennedy (he/him/his), attended his first Sacred Harp singing in June of 2002. This life changing event came about when he was invited to accompany his sister-in-law to a singing for a commissioned painting (“All Day Singing and Dinner on the Grounds” by Bethanne Hill, 2003, commissioned by Max Berueffy).

Photo of Mara Kaye

Mara Kaye


Referred to by Jazz Lives as “one of New York’s great gifts to the world,” blues and jazz vocalist Mara Kaye is “like some lost pocket of the blues that had never been explored in the old days, all wrapped up in a ball of 21st-century Brooklyn-bred attitude.” For over a decade she has traveled internationally and throughout the US, sharing legendary stages with champions of the genre, singing beloved songs of the past with a deep passion and respect for its original storytellers.

Photo of Caleb Klauder

Caleb Klauder


Raised on Orcas Island, WA, then on to college and the 30 years to follow in Oregon, and then back to Washington again, Caleb is a true north-westerner. Yet
his maternal family roots lay in East Tennessee. These deep family roots contribute to his music through old memories, bringing you the strong singing and spirited attitude that gives his music a cutting and sweet edge. Caleb has written many songs, some that are performed by others and some that are becoming standards at jam sessions in the bluegrass scenes across the US, Canada, and in Europe.

Photo of Grace Love

Grace Love


Singer songwriter Grace Love is the Olympic Peninsula’s shining jewel of grit, beauty and power – think Etta James and Betty Wright meet Mahalia Jackson. She grew up in Tacoma, just a stone’s throw from Seattle, which infused her R&B melodies with fortitude and grunge.

Tim McNalley

Photo of Johnny Nicholas

Johnny Nicholas


Time is a river and you can never step in the same river twice. It’s all gonna change, but what came before shapes what comes after. There are certain people who seem to be in both places at once. Johnny Nicholas has played music and rambled with some of the most original and artistically powerful individuals of the American 20th century.

Photo of Karin Plato

Karin Plato


Canadian vocalist and composer Karin Plato came to jazz almost by accident. The music she heard in her formative years was the rock and pop music of the day and the classical music she studied from a young age. She didn’t get the “jazz bug” until she was in her early 30’s and that’s when her music career really began when she made the move from central Canada to the West Coast.

Photo of Pharis Romero

Pharis Romero

Artistic Director, Voice Works

Pharis has been singing and playing music her whole life. An early student of classical and country, she grew up performing with her family’s band and learning the songs and stories that made her want to dig deeper. These days she performs mostly with her husband Jason, and is equally at home disappearing into an old-time jam as she is singing on stage or teaching the joy of song and sound.

Photo of Moira Smiley

Moira Smiley


Her clarion voice and joyous, embodied performances have carried Moira and her songs around the planet and inspired millions of harmony singers to sing her songs. She’s immersed herself in early American, Irish and East European vocal traditions and seeks to honor the many powerful, cultural roles of singing beyond stage and microphone

Photo of Yoseff Tucker

Yoseff Tucker


Yoseff’s early life exposure to traditional bluegrass and American roots music came courtesy of his grandfather who moved to Central California from the Ozarks in the early 20th century. His first guitar came to him while he was still in diapers and an appreciation for music laid a great foundation in his life.

Photo of Khari Wendell McClelland

Khari Wendell McClelland


Khari Wendell McClelland is a diversely talented and ever-evolving artist. Originally from Detroit, Khari has become a darling on the Canadian music scene with reviewers lauding his performances as a clever mix of soul and gospel. Khari’s songwriting crosses genres and generations, joyfully invoking the spirit of his ancestors who straddled the US-Canadian border in efforts to escape slavery and discrimination.

Photo of Eli West

Eli West


It’s always illuminating to ask an artist how they understand music, but Eli West’s perspective is nothing short of ground-breaking. A trained designer, he sees music architecturally, visualizing his compositions spatially. It’s a highly unusual way to think about music, tied to his verdant natural world of the Pacific Northwest.

Photo of Reeb Willms

Reeb Willms


Reeb Willms has been singing and playing guitar since 2001 and is widely regarded as one of the best rhythm guitar players in old time music. She hails from the windswept Central Washington farmlands of Douglas County, and was heavily influenced as a child by her musical father and uncles, who performed locally as the Willms Brothers. Her warm, tender vocals and driving rhythms are a living testament to this musical tradition, which she brought to the stage in her early 20s.

Centrum has a variety of ways to be able to attend our workshops even if you’re on a budget. If you need financial assistance, Centrum has a robust scholarship program awarded on a first-come, first-served; and as-needed basis.

Workshop tuition includes admission to everything, including great seats at all public performances. Your meal ticket is good for three meals per day.


  • Adult Tuition: $520 (a $260 deposit is required to reserve your space, $50 is nonrefundable; scholarship applicants require a $100 deposit, fully refundable if you are unable to attend)
  • Additional Family Member (sibling, spouse, child; limit of two): $260
  • Youth (under 21): $260
  • Canadian Resident: $455 USD
  • Private room and all meals: $560
  • Private room only: $280
  • All meals: $280
  • Lunches only: $70
  • Airport shuttle (optional): $120 round trip or $60 one way

Apply online as you register. Please note that except in rare cases, scholarships are available for tuition only. Centrum requires a $100 deposit of scholarship applicants, which is fully refundable before May 23 if you are unable to attend. If you are interested in volunteering, or a work trade position, please contact Peter McCracken at peter@centrum (dot) org.

Room & Board
Most participants stay in private dormitory rooms at Fort Worden. There are a limited number of double rooms, that is, rooms with two twin beds. If you’d like a double, please request one, and list another registered participant who has signed up for room and board in order to share that room. It is first come, first served.

Meals are served at Fort Worden Commons. The first meal is dinner on June 27; the last meal is breakfast on July 2.

Cancellation/Refund Policy
Full payment is due by May 23, 2023. If your full payment is not made by May 23, your registration will be canceled; $50 of your deposit is nonrefundable.
Any fee that includes a room: no refunds available after May 6, 2023.
Tuition, meals, airport shuttle: no refunds available after May 23, 2023.

Voice Works shuttle schedule:
Arrive – Tuesday, June 27, 2023, pick-up at SeaTac airport, 2:30pm, Pacific Time.
Depart – Sunday, July 2, 2023, depart Centrum at Port Townsend, 9am, Pacific Time.

If you have any more questions about Voice Works, please contact Peter McCracken at 360-385-3102, x127, or peter@centrum (dot) org.

Find more answers - Centrum FAQs

The workshop classes are open to everyone; differing levels of ability are expected. If you’re a beginner, you’ll find plenty of classes to address your needs. Likewise, advanced singers find plenty of challenges.

Most of our workshops are family events, and we welcome musicians of all ages and abilities to participate. 

If you are under 18, you must be accompanied by a registered adult. Please register the adult first, as you will need a confirmation number.

Here is how you’ll spend your time:

Tuesday, June 27
4–5:30pm – Check-in, Centrum office
6–7:30pm – Dinner
7:30pm – Orientation

Wednesday-Saturday, June 28-July 1
9:30am: Morning Warmup - Yoga for Singers
10:15am–12pm: Class Session #1

Choose from the following list of classes:

  • Listening, Learning and Singing – Eli West
  • Vocal Technique: The Deeva Method – Nikki Dee
  • Introduction to Sacred Harp music – Bridge Hill Kennedy
  • Your Own Wild Voice – Moira Smiley
  • Duet Singing – Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms
  • A Singer’s Guide to Storytelling – Mara Kaye, with Tim McNalley
  • Early Vocal Stylings and Inspirations from Blind Willie Johnson to Percy Mayfield – Johnny Nicholas
  • Notes from a Singers Lips – Grace Love
  • Vocal Jazz / Jazz Standards / the Jazz Vocalist 101 – Karin Plato
  • Bluegrass Lead Singing – Yosef Tucker
  • Song as Community – Khari Wendell McClelland

12-1pm: Lunch
1-2pm: Free time, or practice, or visiting, or siesta
2-3pm: Class Session #2

Choose from the following list of classes:

  • Singing for solo/duo performance – Eli West
  • Elevating the Voices – Bridge Hill Kennedy
  • Classic Honky Tonk Country Songs for the Dance Hall – Caleb Klauder
  • Around the World with Nikki Dee
  • Improvising & Song Making Together – Moira Smiley
  • Early Vocal Stylings and Inspirations from Blind Willie Johnson to Percy Mayfield – Johnny Nicholas

3:30-4:30pm: Class Session #3

Choose from the following list of classes:

  • Old Time Ballads – Reeb Willms
  • Listen, Chat, Sing – Mara Kaye, with Tim McNalley
  • An Alternative Choir Experience (class max:30) – Grace Love
  • Masterclass – Karin Plato
  • Quick and Dirty: Singing, songwriting and performing the iterative way – Khari Wendell McClelland
  • Bluegrass Harmony Singing – Yosef Tucker

5-5:45pm: Varies each day; either a wildcard session, an open mic, or an all-camp sing.

Sunday, July 2
8am: Breakfast and goodbyes
9am: Shuttle leaves for airport from Centrum office
11am: Check-out of housing

Stay tuned for details about upcoming programs, join Centrum's email list for updates.

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