When I was fourteen, I met an incredible woman.

She had the seemingly boundless energy needed to corrale the attention of 100 high school students and was so inspirational, that those same young adults willingly appeared at school at 7:00 am in order to sing — for an hour!

Dr. June Countryman is an excellent scholar, university professor, curriculum author, and was, for a long time, a high school choral teacher. My teacher.

She introduced me to a beautiful array of music makers: Kurt Elling, Cassandra Wilson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Dianne Reeves, and guided me through the music of Palestrina, The Rachmaninoff “Ave Maria,” Carmina Burana, Bach Chorales, and so much more.

Many of the pieces that I was privileged to sing in those years have become those mainstays of my musical fabric, and have played out like a soundtrack for my experiences.

The Choir of New College Oxford provided one such soundtrack with its excellent 1998 recording, “Agnus Dei: Music of Inner Harmony.” What a gift!

I want to thank the many teachers and mentors who have helped steady my feet on this beautiful journey.



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