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BIOGRAPHY - Q&A

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
 

VOICE:  Graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston. 30 years teaching and performing experience. Studied with great vocal coaches such as Renee Grant Williams (worked with Linda Rondstadt, Carrie Underwood, Rod Stewart, Dixie Chix, etc.), Brett Manning Studio, Judith Rabinovitch (Sarah McLachlan's teacher), Corlynn Hanney (ex backup singer for Leonard Cohen), Rachel Rains (Seth Riggs technique), Liz Johnson (vocologist, ex vocal/choir instructor at Vanderbilt/Blair School of Music), etc. 
 

PIANO:  Studied piano with jazz legend Bill Evan’s protege, Craig Najjar.  Completed my jazz and classical piano proficiencies at Berklee College of Music after taking private classical and pop lessons for many years.
 

SAX: Studied at Berklee with jazz Andy McGee (worked with Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman).
 

SONGWRITING: studied commercial (pop/rock/country, etc.) songwriting at Berklee with renowned lyricist Pat Pattison and Nashville songwriter Ralph Murphy.  Have written songs with Duane Hitchings, Kim Tribble, Danny Wells, Bruce Miller, Lisa Aschmann, etc. Co-wrote the TV theme song for “PowerPlay” (a Canadian hockey show), wrote jingles for Nashville’s radio station Lightning 100, and have had a dozen or so independent cuts.

 

GUITAR, BASS, HARMONICA:  private lessons, various teachers. 

How did you get started doing this type of work?

I love teaching! When others make progress, I find it very fulfilling! It’s in my nature!  Also, having grown up in a musical family, I learned to love and crave the community that making music together creates.  I strive to recreate that with my students and with own band as an adult. I started by teaching music as a volunteer for W.O. Smith School of Music, Nashville, for several years, which is a music school for underprivileged kids. After that, I was hired by Jan Williams School of Music in Brentwood where I taught full-time for about 7 years before striking it out on my own. 
 

What types of customers have you worked with?

 

Really everyone in every imaginable genre at every age and ability – from beginners to touring artists!


What is your typical process for working with a new vocal student?

I listen to the student sing a verse and chorus of an easy song they're fairly comfortable with and make notes. I create a list of voice exercises based on what will benefit them the most. We cover posture and breathing, do some exercises, and work through songs section by section, incorporating stylistic choices, methods to make the lyrics “pop,” and (optionally) performance development.

GWEN'S STORY

Gwen is a Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist who grew up in a small town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of Canada. Her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles would often jam until the sun came up!  Her mom, Sylvia Holt, sang and played with such soulful depth, power, and sheer joy, that Gwen couldn’t help but devote her life to the magical mystery tour of music. She started playing professionally at the age of 16 in bar bands and went on to graduate from Berklee College of Music in Boston.

After graduation, she moved to Vancouver, BC, Canada performing in blues, pop/rock, and country bands for a decade (bass guitar, guitar, vocals, harmonica, sax, keyboards). She worked with artists like Kathi McDonald (backup singer for The Rolling Stones and Ike & Tina Turner) and Kelli Brock (BCCMA Female Vocalist of the Year). She co-wrote the national Canadian TV theme song for “Powerplay” with Tony Robertson and The Vaqueros and was runner up for the multi-instrumentalist/background singer for Sara McLachlan's "Solace" Tour. She was featured in an award-winning TV commercial for Larrivee Guitars, won the KISS FM Lyric Writing Contest, recorded an album of (unreleased) original songs, and was the assistant recording engineer on punk albums by DOA and Skinny Puppy.

After relocating to Nashville in the '90s, she toured with Americana artists, including The Rhythm Angels, Colleen McFarland, opening for acts like Jessi Colter, Bush, and Candlebox. She toured the Southeast as bassist/vocalist with '80s cover band, Kung Pow, and played sax and sang backups with award-winning blues artists, including Markey Blue, Nick Nixon (ex-Platters), and Eight-o-Five Jive. She fronted a country duo with ex-Charlie Pride steel guitarist, Bill Poe, and performed in Mystery School’s “Mental Warfare” video, which has over 233,000 views.

Her radio jingles for AccountNet received heavy rotation on Lightning 100 and over a dozen of her songs have been recorded by independent artists, with "She Ain’t Got Jack" reaching #7 on the Roots Music Chart and #21 on the Top 30 Indie Chart. Gwen co-wrote, sang, and played guitar/keys on the Sister Gypsy & The Pirates’ “Illuminate the Game” YouTube video, which has over 40,000 views. She had endorsements with Fritter Gig Bags and MikTek and was featured in the Lee Oskar “Harmonicas For Life” ad campaign. Gwen's song “Mama Drove the Getaway Car” was picked up as the theme song for an online TV show about female race car drivers called "EmPowered Women.”

 

In the '20s, Gwen has produced and written music for herself and others, including in 2020, lending her sax skills to Dirty Lenny and Natasha Blaine. She also sang lead vocals for The Cox County Clappers. The time has finally come to step out of the shadows and present herself as an acoustic pop singer-songwriter. Her release of "Extraordinary People" will be the first of many singles as a solo artist in this exciting new phase of her career.

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