2021 Song School

Instructors

Instructors

Instructors

We’re excited to announce the beginning of the 2021 Song School faculty! Registration for the 2021 Song School is now open.

Songwriting Instructors

Mary Gauthier

Mary Gauthier

Mary has requested that all students read her book, Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting, prior to taking her Song School class. 

Mary Gauthier is a Grammy Nominated songwriter whose songs have been praised by Bob Dylan and recorded by Jimmy Buffett, Tim McGraw, Bobby Bare, Kathy Mattea, Bettye Lavette and more. Gauthier’s first nine albums presented extraordinary confessional songs, deeply personal, profoundly emotional pieces ranging from “I Drink,” a blunt accounting of addiction, to “March 11, 1962,” the day she was born — and relinquished to an orphanage — to “Worthy,” in which the singer finally understands she is deserving of love.

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Instructors

Bonnie Hayes

The songs of Bonnie Hayes have always been extraordinary, from “Shelly’s Boyfriend”, the post-punk badgirl anthem that put her on the map to the authentic passion of “Have A Heart” and “Love Letter,” which restored Bonnie Raitt to superstardom with the multi-platinum, multi-Grammy-winning CD Nick of Time. Writing for artists as diverse as Bette Midler, Robert Cray, Adam Ant, David Crosby, Booker T and the MG’s, and Cher, Hayes has continued to craft songs one critic described as “sparkling clockwork mechanisms with a tendency to do the unexpected.”

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Instructors

Pat Pattison

Pat Pattison is an author, clinician and Berklee Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry whose students have composed for major artists and written number one songs. At Berklee, he developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country. In addition to his four books, Songwriting Without Boundaries, Writing Better Lyrics, The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, and The Essential Guide to Rhyming, Pat has developed three online lyric writing courses, one on poetry, and one on creative writing available through Berkleemusic.com.

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Steve Poltz

Steve Poltz

In 20 years since his full-length solo debut, One Left Shoe, Steve Poltz blessed the world’s ears with thirteen solo records, spanning the acclaimed 2010 Dreamhouse and most recently, Shine On in 2019. NPR summed it up best, “Critics and fans alike now regard Poltz as a talented and prolific songwriter.”

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Instructors

Paul Reisler

Paul Reisler is a composer, songwriter, recording artists, performer and teacher. He is the founder and artistic director of Kid Pan Alley, co-founder of Trapezoid, as well as his current bands, Paul Reisler & A Thousand Questions featuring Howard Levy, and Three Good Reasons. Over the past 40 years, he has performed in over 3,000 concerts, recorded close to three-dozen albums, written Aesop’s Fables for Orchestra and Narrator, music for theatre, dance and film, as well as the script and songs for two musicals—Bouncin’ and The Talented Clementine.

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Darrell Scott

Darrell Scott

Multi-Instrumentalist and Singer-Songwriter Darrell Scott mines and cultivates the everyday moment, taking the rote, menial, mundane, and allowing it to be surreal, ever poignant, and candidly honest, lilting, blooming, and resonating. The words he fosters allow us to make sense of the world, what is at stake here, and our place in it. And ultimately, Darrell knows the sole truth of life is that love is all that matters, that we don’t always get it right, but that’s the instinctive and requisite circuitous allure of things, why we forever chase it, and why it is held sacred.

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Steve Seskin

Steve Seskin

Steve Seskin is a successful songwriter who has written seven number one songs, including Grammy-nominated “Grown Men Don’t Cry,” recorded by Tim McGraw, and “Don’t Laugh at Me,” winner of NSAI Song of the Year and Music Row Magazine Song of the Year in 1999 as recorded by Mark Wills. His other #1 hits are “No Doubt About It” and “For a Change,” both recorded by Neal McCoy, “No Man’s Land” and “If You’ve Got Love,” both recorded by John Michael Montgomery, and “Daddy’s Money,” recorded by Ricochet.

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Elective Instructors

Instructors

Ysaÿe Barnwell

Ysaÿe M. Barnwell, Ph.D. MSPH, is a commissioned composer, arranger, author, actress and former member of the African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. She is a vocalist with a range of over three octaves and appears on more than twenty-five recordings with Sweet Honey as well as other artists. Trained as a violinist for 15 years beginning at the age of 2 1/2, she holds degrees in speech pathology (BS, MSEd), cranio-facial studies (Ph.D.) and public health (MSPH).

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Instructors

“Chicago Mike” Beck

“Chicago” Mike Beck is an ASCAP-award-winning songwriter and recording artist who has been touring full-time in the USA and Europe since 2001 as a solo performer and with his band Chicago Mike’s InterGalactic Brother & Sisterhood of Big Eyed Beans. Mike holds a residency several weeks each year at the historic Bright Angel Lodge on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and has toured Europe over 25 times, performing in Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg.

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Ryan Benyo is a Los Angeles based, Gold-Record Award-Winning producer, engineer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with credits including Parachute, Sheppard, Baker Grace (Bitter

Ryan Benyo

Ryan Benyo is a Los Angeles based, Gold-Record Award-Winning producer, engineer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with credits including Parachute, Sheppard, Baker Grace (Bitter’s Kiss), Lisa Loeb, Lime Cordiale, Alberta Cross, Through Fire, Vusi Mahlasela, and Caro Emerald. He has also worked on a variety of music and sound design projects for visual media including for Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s, NBCUniversal, and many others. In addition, Ryan works at Kid Pan Alley as the Director of Music & Technology where he records, arranges, produces and markets their growing catalog of songs.

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Mai Bloomfield

Mai Bloomfield

Mai Bloomfield is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her creative work reflects the musical miles she has traveled, the diversity of projects and people she’s partnered with, and her resilient journey through breast cancer. At the heart of it all, is her love for the art of songwriting and the transformational power of words and music.

Born into a family of artists, Mai started playing cello at age 9, and by 15 she was writing her own songs on guitar. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, she moved back home to Los Angeles and became a founding member of indie folk-pop band, Raining Jane. Mai wears many hats as a musician–from band member, accompanist, and session player, to producer, writer, and solo artist. With her solo music releases, she’s received songwriting awards from the Kerrville, Telluride, and Rocky Mountain Folks Festivals. She has collaborated with many artists, such as Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, Adam Cohen, Willy Porter.

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Ron Browning

Ron Browning

Ron Browning is internationally known as the “Voice Coach to the Stars.” Alison Krauss, the most celebrated Grammy Award winner (27 wins), recently praised him in the New York Times, USA Today, BBC News, the Tennessean, and The Sun in London, where she called him “a genius” after he saved her from a debilitating case of dysphonia and brought her back into excellent voice where singing felt effortless.This restored the confidence needed to finish her Windy City album, which won her 2 Grammy nominations. She was then able to move on with her singing career.Ron accompanied Alison Krauss on the Red Carpet for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in Madison Square Gardens.

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Jenn Cleary

Jenn Cleary

Jenn Cleary is a folk-rock singer-songwriter from Boulder, Colorado, with many years’ experience performing on international stages. Highlight shows include Sundance Film Festivals and Colorado Rockies games. She has a range of song styles and performs bluesy acoustic solo shows as well as rockin’ shows with her full electric band. Jenn has four albums out, including her recently released first children’s album, which among other honors has won prestigious recognition from the 2021 NAPPA awards for being best in the music industry, as well as the 2021 Hot Diggity Award that signifies innovation, quality, entertainment, educational value and a commitment to excellence. Jenn has always included playful tunes in her output and her children’s album blends full-on fun with environmental and social consciousness.

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RJ Cowdery

RJ Cowdery

Columbus, OH: Singer-songwriter guitar player RJ Cowdery is motivated by the best things in life: making people think, laugh, cry and feel. Fans tell her it’s uncanny the way her songs seem to take a peek directly into their lives. Much like the Midwestern Ohio landscape she calls home, her songs are stories of middle ground, and her tales are expressions of being in the midst of life. And RJ really plays hard; her unique, characteristic style is fingerpicking with a deep bass line. An injury to a finger on her left hand as a child resulted in Cowdery learning her own playing style out of necessity; this gave rise to the distinctive technique that’s earned Cowdery her rightful place at the folk table.

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Terri Delaney

Terri Delaney

Terri Delaney is a Minneapolis-based social worker turned booking agent turned trauma therapist. What started as a brief consulting gig for a local musician turned into a full-time music career. Terri founded Peppermint Booking Agency in 2000 and she received the National Association of Campus Activities award of “Agent of the Year” in 2005. She then re-focused her career onto trauma therapy and helping people heal using mind-body approaches. She still collaborates with her wife, contemporary folk musician Ellis, co-managing her record company Singing Crow Music.

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Instructors

Ellis Delaney

There’s just something about Ellis. She is at once funny and wise, thoughtful and uninhibited, and her captivating voice is matched by her uplifting lyrics. She has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion four times and has been voted “most-wanted-to-return” performer at festivals including Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Moab Folk Festival, Kerrville, and Sisters Folk Festival. She has received hundreds of messages from strangers including, “you exude pure joy”, “I heard you and fell in love” and “I was stopped in my tracks by your music and captivating laugh” as well as “Yours is a voice we all need to hear.” Ellis is currently working on her tenth album, Ordinary Love, and will be showcasing many of those songs at her annual closing set on the Wildflower Stage the last day of Folks Festival. She is available for mentoring sessions and is interested in helping others to find their mission and artistic voice.

Ellis-music.com

Rebecca Folsom

Rebecca Folsom

Rebecca Folsom is an award-winning songwriter, a national touring performer, a teacher, and a coach of transformational creativity. Dubbed “The Creativity Shaman” Rebecca has been coaching individuals and groups in transformational creativity for over 27 years. She offers a toolbox of simple and potent embodiment exercises, both traditional and non-traditional to help singers/writers/performers open streamlined vocal, songwriting, and performance flow.

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Mark Gibson

Mark Gibson

Songwriter, recording artist, recovering attorney, coffee lover, and undeniable fan of the Oxford comma, Mark Gibson, will be joining us for his 12th Song School. In addition to teaching the “Taking Care of Business” workshop with Chicago Mike Beck, Mark will once again, (and much more importantly), be serving our morning coffee, tea, and pastries. After 25 years of legal practice, Mark abandoned the heat and humidity of the deep South and relocated to Colorado where he now spends his time enjoying the outdoors and writing and performing his songs along the western slope.

TheMarkGibson.com

Instructors

Vance Gilbert

Vance Gilbert burst onto the singer/songwriter scene in the early 90’s when the buzz spread through the folk clubs of the Northeast about an ex-multicultural arts teacher who was knocking them dead at open mics. Word got out about this Philadelphia-area born and raised performer, and Shawn Colvin invited Gilbert to be a special guest on her 1992 Fat City tour. Gilbert took audiences across North America by storm. “With the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god, it was enough to earn him that rarity: an encore for an opener” wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in its review of a show from that tour.

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Dan Harris

Dan Harris

Dan Harris is a singer/songwriter and guitar builder based in Lafayette, CO. He grew up in a drafty farmhouse in southern Vermont, listening to The Grand Ol Opry and strumming along with an oversized guitar. Dan studied jazz and classical guitar in high school and college and has played in a variety of different bands and ensembles, from jazz big bands to flamenco dance groups and his current band, The Renegade Roosters, a bluegrass/old time group also based in Lafayette.

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Bob Hemenger

Bob Hemenger

Bob Hemenger is a Colorado based musician, educator and naturalist. His “soul full” approach to music and many years of teaching how indigenous people lived with the land have led him down some interesting trails. He has been an instructor at Victor Wooten’s Center for Music and Nature for the past 15 years. It is there that he has been a part of the magic that takes place when creative people slow down enough to really listen and connect with nature and themselves.

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Heather Hottovy

Heather Hottovy

Heather’s path started as a 10 year old with scoliosis and a deep dislike for her chiropractor. Then, she found yoga. 17 years and one straight spine later, Heather is grateful to have learned more than how to touch her toes and stand straight on this journey and is filled with deep passion for sharing the lessons she has learned on her healing path. With a 4 year teaching career and a 500 RYT certification under her belt as-of June 2020, Heather brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to each class and workshop to assure each student leaves with a deeper connection to their mind, body, and spirit.

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Instructors

JJ Jones

JJ Jones is an internationally touring, Berklee-trained drummer and educator. She has performed with folk-pop darlings Girlyman, Canadian roots band Po’Girl (now Birds of Chicago), singer-songwriter Lucy Wainwright Roche, Egyptian revolutionary Ramy Essam, and LA’s riot-pop band WASI, among many, many others. As a writer and producer, she co-wrote a song with comedian Margaret Cho that was featured in her Showtime concert movie “psyCHO”, and one of JJ’s own projects, a kids’ music record under the name Django Jones, won a Parents’ Choice Gold award, one of the most prestigious honors in children’s music.

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Instructors

Arthur Lee Land

Lyons Colorado based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Arthur Lee Land is known for his joy filled, innovative live performances, his mad guitar and live-looping skills, Arthur’s hands are full theses days writing, recording and performing with multiple projects. First as a solo artist, you have his unforgettable one-man act employing the Art of Live-Looping to create his Electro-Americana BAND of ONE featured in his last studio album release Cracked Open featuring songs co-written by his wife and songwriting partner, clairvoyant lyricist Carol Lee. In late 2014, Arthur replaced Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon in the veteran Colorado Americana Jam-Band Great American Taxi.

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Michael Lille

Michael Lille

Michael Lille is a Virginia native and award winning singer/songwriter who has traveled the globe and shared his music and love of adventure with friends and fans for over 4 decades. Lille is a winner of the 1993 Kerrville new-folk songwriting award as well as a first place winner in the Telluride Troubador competition in 1996. In addition to his solo work, Lille is a member of The Sherpas (with fellow new-folk winners Tom Prasada-Rao and Tom Kimmel), SGGL, the popular DC/Charlottesville-based quartet, and Man from Tuesday with San Diego based songwriter Andy Lund. Lille was also one-third of The Famous Unknowns with fellow VA musicians Robbin Thompson and Lewis McGehee.

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Instructors

John Linn

Largely due to a visioning session in Ellis Delaney’s class at Song School, John Linn now teaches guitar and makes music full-time in Washington, D.C. His mission is to share the joys of creativity and musical living with his students and audiences. In his teaching practice, John especially enjoys the gentle exploration of music theory, creativity coaching and performance development.

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Heather Mae

Heather Mae

Unfazed by what a typical pop artist today is “supposed” to look or sound like, Heather Mae, an award-winning songwriter whose evocative vocals and rhythmic piano style call to mind artists like Stevie Nicks and Sara Bareilles, creates intoxicating music that tackles complex topics surrounding mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, self-love, racial injustice, social inequality, and women’s rights. Inspired by her own personal experiences and identities - a queer, plus size woman living with Bipolar Disorder - Mae is an on-fire musical and emotional experience. In her most sonically adventurous project yet, GLIMMER (Sept 2019) - her second produced record and first full length album - breaks the stigma surrounding mental health, reminding us all that we are not alone.

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Crys Matthews

Crys Matthews

A troubadour of truth, DC resident Crys Matthews is among the brightest stars of the new generation of social justice music-makers. An award-winning, prolific lyricist and composer, Matthews blends Americana, folk, blues, bluegrass, and funk into a bold, complex performance steeped in traditional melodies punctuated by honest, original lyrics. She is made for these times. Of Matthews, ASCAP VP & Creative Director Eric Philbrook says, “By wrapping honest emotions around her socially conscious messages and dynamically delivering them with a warm heart and a strong voice, she lifts our spirits just when we need it most in these troubled times.” Justin Hiltner of Bluegrass Situation adds, her gift is a “reminder of what beauty can occur when we bridge those divides.” Her new, hope-fueled, love-filled, social-justice album called Changemakers was just released March 26.

www.crysmatthews.com

Rob Mattson

Rob Mattson

Rob is a musician, singer, actor, voice-over artist, playwright, director, videographer, and photographer. He’s built furniture and written 58 plays that at current count have been performed in 34 states and 4 continents. He’s released 3 independent CDs, performed on festival stages, and won awards as a playwright and an actor. His voice can be heard in independent films, commercial videos, and on a number of phone systems across the US. Rob refers to himself as “A Long-term Dilletante.”

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Instructors

Clare McLeod

Clare McLeod is an Assistant Professor in the Voice Department at Berklee College of Music. A Certified Master Teacher in Estill Voice Training, Clare also trained at the National Center for Voice and Speech, and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. In addition to teaching at Berklee, she presents voice clinics regularly in Los Angeles, Colorado and Austin and continues to study developments in the voice research field.

Full Bio

Bill Nash

Bill Nash

Bill Nash has been a musician all his life. He was a 5-year-old boy soprano, a 4th grade french hornist (played horn all through college), a 15-year-old beginning guitarist and then an 18-year-old guitar teacher, and a graduate of Bradley University’s School of Music, majoring in composition studying under the tutelage of Professor Dean Howard, and an almost master’s degree from time at the University of Colorado (just one semester short!). Bill began writing music and lyrics in his early teens and his roots are firmly embedded in what is now known as the singer/songwriter acoustic music genre. He has performed styles as diverse as rock ‘n roll, fusion, country, polka, folk, and even old-time western music, ala the Sons of the Pioneers.

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Instructors

Justin Roth

Justin Roth is a nationally touring singer/songwriter, fingerstyle guitarist, and recording engineer/producer for independent artists at his home studio in Fort Collins, CO. His path to acoustic music was solidified at 17 when he heard innovative guitarist, Michael Hedges, and saw how the acoustic guitar was capable of creating such a huge sonic palette, much more than he had ever heard before. From that moment on, he knew it would be the root of his musical world. His use of alternate tunings, partial capos and his innovative two-hand tapping technique has been described as, ‘more than just an instrument, but an extension of himself.’ “Fans of Leo Kottke or Michael Hedges will find themselves right at home with [Roth’s] intricate guitar work…beautifully written lyrics.” - San Francisco Art Magazine 

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Instructors

Alan Rowoth

In 1991, Alan started the folk music listserv, and later organized the first Internet Quartet Songwriters Showcase, a tour that took 24 songwriters to 11 cities in the Northeast in a total of 66 concerts. Alan has written for several music magazines including Dirty Linen and Sing Out! and has taught seminars on the internet for musicians at national and regional Folk Alliance conferences, the Kerrville Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Christine Lavin’s Martha’s Vineyard Singer Songwriter Retreat, and of course, our own Song School.

www.BigOrangeTarp.org

Instructors

Amy Speace

“Amy Speace has one of the richest and loveliest voices in the singer/songwriter genre and her songs are luxuriously smart…she’s profoundly personal yet also a bit mythic. The imagery and the careful use of language is stunning and more evocative of classical poetry than most contemporary Americana peers” – Craig Havighurst, author & host of Nashville’s “Music City Roots”. Baltimore born, NYC bred and Nashville based, Amy Speace has been making critical waves since Judy Collins discovered her in 2006, releasing “Songs For Bright Street” on Collins’ own Wildflower Records. A logical protégé to classic singers like Collins and Baez, Amy’s brand of folk comes with a bit of grit and soul.

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Judith Wade

Judith Wade

Do you have writer’s block? Need more energy during Song School? Want clarity on which workshops to choose from the many wonderful ones? Or just need some time to relax and re-group? Come experience Reiki and other energy modalities provided by Judith Wade.

Judith is a gentle intuitive channel for a variety of nurturing hands-on healing techniques including Reiki that balance the body, mind, and spirit. She is committed to integrity, creative expression, and authenticity and assisting you in freely expressing yourself.

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Several more elective instructors still to be announced…