Linda is the founding Artistic Director of the Writers in the Round Concert Series. She is a prolific poet, songwriter, producer, and recording artist who has released three books of poetry and six original albums, all of which have won critical acclaim internationally. Linda won the 1984 Kerrville Folk festival with two of her songs: "Blow Out The Light”, and “Please Don't Run”. Her beautiful and haunting a cappella composition, “Let Her Go Gently”, was published in Sing Out Magazine, has been a comfort to countless grief stricken loved ones throughout the world, and is used in Memorial Services and Hospice’s across the country.
Linda helped to launch House Concerts and songwriting series in Seaside, FL; Wilmington, NC; Little Rock, AR; Cotter, AR; Lafayette, IN; and in Houston, Texas. She has hosted and performed in numerous radio and TV shows, including Bob Hope's Telethon for the Healing, as well as in major concert venues across the country. She has opened shows and performed with Bonnie Rait, Donovan, Carolyn Hester, Jesse Collin Young, Steve Gillette, Loudon Wainwright, III, Nancy Griffith, Arlo Guthrie, Trout Fishing in America, Lucinda Williams, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Townes Van Zandt, to name just a few. Linda was the Music Designer for Main Street Theater’s production of "A Piece of my Heart" in Houston, and the Assistant Producer/Director of Mid America Hot Springs National Parks production of “Papa Bear Mama Bear". Linda has directed over 1400 musical events.
Linda has been teaching and performing for 40 years, and helps her students to record original albums, perform in concert and play music for the pure, personal joy of it. Her teaching repertoire includes contemporary folk, and incorporating 60’s music into her teaching plans. Linda is well known for her laid-back, nurturing style, which is instrumental in helping both children and adults explore and develop their creativity. She has recently been honored with the inclusion of the Legacy of Linda Lowe at the Center For Texas Music History, and at Rice University.
Bill has been playing music for 23 years and has performed internationally. Bill teaches rock, blues, classical and jazz, with an emphasis on structure, music theory, rhythm and improvisation. His background in music is diverse and Bill has been teaching full time for 13 years. Bill has a degree is in Psychology with a minor in Music from SHSU. He understands the importance of teaching foundational music concepts. He has a direct teaching style and helps his students to connect with others through music. Bill's carefully selected material for lessons focus on rhythm, reading literacy, practical theory, aural training, flat pick/finger picking style, songwriting and performance. Students are encouraged to bring their favorite music to lessons also.
Erin started studying piano at six and guitar at fourteen. While she was studying jazz under the great jazz educator and pianist Shelton Berg at San Jacinto College she began studying the bass violin. She also had the opportunity to study studio recording techniques, music business, and perform with the internationally award winning big band that Shelly led. She performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, and in Mexico City she toured as a good will ambassador. Erin later attended The University of Houston studying music composition with an emphasis in Jazz Studies. An in demand “bassist”, both electric and acoustic, Erin has performed with countless bands and recording artists including Ray Charles. She is currently working as a lead jazz guitarist in a trio performing standard jazz and original compositions.
Michelle, a Theater and Mass Media major at Henderson State University, also studied Drama and Dance at Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School for seven years under Linda Kent, David Baecker, and Janine Levine. She attended Master classes with Stephen Schwartz, Andrea Burns, Peter Flynn and John Plumpis. Michelle has also studied jazz, ballet, tap, modern dance, musical theater and stage combat.
Michelle won the Reddie Spirit Award for best admissions essay for HSU; and was reviewed in SingOut Magazine for the song 'Maybe my Baby', in the musical Little by Little (Rollin' Records Production). She was also awarded The Poetry Award, as well as the Most Eloquent Writer Award at Perry Mansfield. In addition, her artwork of the skyline of Houston was chosen to be etched in steel by Artist Mel Chin on one of his seven 70-foot pillars, which pay tribute to Houston's past and present at Sesquicentennial Park on historic Buffalo Bayou.
At Henderson State University, Michelle was a Staff writer for the Oracle; a DJ for 99.9 The Pulse FM; and was on the staff of HTV. She was the recipient of the 'Best Actress' award as the Ballerina in Hotel Cassiopeia; and the 'Best Actress' award for playing the part of 'Rose' in Dancing at Lugnessa. She also played 'Randi Canwell' in the world premier of Simon Says Shoot, which received the 2004 Directors Choice award at the America College Theater Festival. Michelle is an Alumna of the Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha XI Delta.
Michelle has been Stage Manager, Camp Counselor and a Staff member of WITR for over 15 years and is Now head of the Drama Department. She is the founder of the MC Theater Group at Writers in the Round and is the Drama Teacher at Xavier Educational Academy, both located in West University Place, Texas. Michelle has toured with Carolyn Hester and "Women in the Round on the Road "performing original music in Radio Shows across the South Eastern US. She has won parts in over 300 stage productions. Michelle was also a life guard and swim instructor at West U Community Center.
Mary Ann wrote the book on violin - literally. She is the author of eleven books/recording volumes of ethnic and classical music for Mel Bay Publications, as well as various articles for Strings, Strad, and American String Teachers magazines. Mary Ann has played with numerous symphony orchestras throughout the United States, and has transcribed and studied recordings In Hungarian Gypsy, Romanian, Klezmer, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Czech, Scandinavian, Irish, Mexican, Texas Style, Old Time, Bluegrass, and Cajun styles. Mary Ann is a well-known Musician author in Texas. Her methods are taught worldwide and her books are a must for any Violin or Fiddle student.
Ali received her bachelors of music in viola performance from Arizona State University. Throughout her studies, Friedman has developed a passion both for quartet playing as well as community engagement through music. She has studied chamber music with premier groups such as the Julliard, St. Lawrence, Shanghai and Brentano String Quartets as well as performed in master classes for renowned performers such as Ivo-Jan Van Der Werff, and Heidi Castleman. As a teacher, Ali worked through String Project ASU for several year which aims to provide accessible and affordable music lessons. In the summer of 2011, Friedman volunteered with the non profit Vive Peru and taught violin to students in a youth orchestra in Trujillo, Peru. Previously, as part of her thesis project for Barrett, the Honors College, Ali created and ran Rainbow Connection: An integrated choir with individuals on and off the autism spectrum which she co-founded in 2012. In the future, Ali hopes to play professionally in a quartet which centers around finding ways to empower communities and advocate for social change. Above all, Ali hopes to impact the lives of others through music in a positive way.
Judi has taught piano and voice full-time in Houston since 1987, and spends every Friday night playing keyboard for ComedySportz, an improv troupe. She grew up in the musical theatre community in Cleveland Ohio, sneaking into the local theatre, but quickly got hired to accompany and arrange music. She also teaches improvisation, composition, coaches pop vocal students, and accompanies instrumental and vocal contest students. Her self-published book, “Piano Freedom,” teaches students how to play and improvise pop music and even improvise classical music.
Sally started teaching piano, flute and guitar when she was 14 years old. She also started teaching gymnastics at that time, eventually coaching on a team that ranked 6th in the nation. Sally is passionate about helping students discover and learn to play the music they want to learn. With a B.A. in Theatre and M.B.A. specializing in the arts, Sally has a vast knowledge of all kinds of music. She is open to teaching all genres that are relevant to students whether that be pop, classical, musical theatre, oldies or original tunes.
“I believe that motivating and inspiring 21st Century piano students requires a different approach than the way I was taught. Most people see themselves being able to play and sing songs or accompany friends at gatherings so I start ear training, theory and teaching chords right away, just like the guitar students. I draw materials from various blogs on the web for the latest teaching methods and my students use apps on the iPad and computer for learning notes, theory or accompanying a song.”
Sally prefers to work in small groups. The children are much more motivated to practice for each other, it teaches them to do their part and its just more FUN. As soon as they’re ready she has beginners take 15 minutes alone, and 30 minutes with another student (Students signing up with a friend get the sibling discount.) Last concert her trio of 6 and 7 year old girls played, Louie Louie, My Hair had a Party Last Night and Mean.
Sally has students from 6 to 65. Some are learning to play by ear and some that just want to read music. She teaches 2 days a week at Writer’s in the Round and volunteers at Family Point in the Memorial area other days. She also offers partial scholarships for especially motivated kids from families needing a little help.
December 1, 1947 - August 4, 2017
Joe was an actor, musician, composer and songwriter with 39 years of experience. Among many TV shows, he was a writer for “Sesame Street”, and performed on "A Prairie Home Companion". His children’s programs have been taught in schools and on stage across the country and he has released several children’s CD’s from his Non Toxic Band for children. He performed publicly In Houston area clubs with his wife Susan Elliott as the jazz duo, Mood Indigo, voted best jazz duo in Houston by the Houston Press. Joe taught jazz with an emphasis on structure and music theory. He had been with Writers In The Round since 2001.
Gary Gillispie attended the University of St. Thomas, U of H and the Philladelphia Music Academy. He worked with the Houston Ballet Company, Houston Dance Center and the Up Town Dance Center. He was the Musical director for Company on Stage where he recently directed the “Fantastics”, “God Spell”, “Snoopy”, “Pied Piper of Hamilton”, and the “Nutcracker”. Gary was also the founding Director of the Houston Music Conservatory formed in 1985, performing in concerts across the country and currently accompanied well known performing and recording artists in the Houston area. He had been with WITR since 2005. He was a regular concert performer at Shermann Clay. Gary performed for President Bush and had worked with Steve Allen, Arnnett Cobb, and Chuck Mangione. For the past four years Gary had been the Organist for Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Gary helped to start up Tele-conference Music Lessons for Florida State Hospital in Orlando. Gary was a loved and respected teacher of piano and music theory for 45 years and taught with an emphasis on traditional and improvisation.
All of us at WITR, students, parents and staff, mourn your passing and miss you.