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Faculty

Michael Bowie – Bassist and Composer

Michael Bowie is an internationally recognized musician, performing on both the electric and contrabass. With roots in the Washington D.C. jazz and gospel community, he was a recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Jazz Studies and trained with Betty Carter and Keter Betts. Soon after, Michael signed with Verve Records as an original member of "The Harper Brothers". He went on to perform, record and tour with Abdulla Ibrahim, Michel Pettruciani, including the Grammy Award winning "Look What I Got" with Betty Carter. Michael has expanded his musical interests and performance to include a wide variety of musical forms from jazz to symphony to rock. As musical director he has worked with many artists worldwide including Patti Labelle, James Ingram, Jeff Majors, Abbey Lincoln, Angie Stone, Isaac Hayes, Gil Scott-Heron. He has shared his talents in the recording studio and on the stage with Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, Manhattan Transfer, Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Della Reece, and Michel Camilo and Ricky Skaggs. He has appeared on countless television shows such as BET on Jazz, Austin City Limits, Charlie Rose, Radio One, and has performed at major venues and festivals such as Carnegie Hall, the Newport Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Montreux, and most other major festivals world-wide. His company, FamForte Productions is a family affair that provides a variety of multi-media services including music production, composition, and consulting. Their works can be heard in television, radio and the industrial markets as well. In addition to his personal musical career, Michael is deeply involved in developing children's music enrichment. He is a former teacher in Washington D.C.'s Public School system where he served as the music instructor at Fillmore Arts Center, Deal Middle School, and Oyster Adams Bilingual Campus. As a lecturer and associate professor he has taught at Shenandoah Conservatory, Michigan University, University of Missouri, and Bowie State amongst others. In addition, he has worked with the Wolftrap Institute for Early Childhood Learning program in Virginia, and the Thelonius Monk Institute in Washington DC. Currently, Michael serves as the Musical Director for the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra.

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Janelle Gill - Piano

There’s an ethereal journey that pianist Janelle Gill, brings listeners on that transcends the boundaries of jazz. Through her work of self exploration as it exists in music, she has tapped into a vein of fluidity that heals with sound. Born and raised in Washington, D.C. Janelle is a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts and attended Howard University. Her unique musical expression has brought her to work closely with musicians such as Delfeyo Marsalis, Oliver Lake, David Murray, The Blackbyrds, Maurice Hines’ in his Tappin’ Through Life as well as local artists including Marshall Keys, Nasar Abadey, and Kris Funn. Some of the venues she has been in concert at include the Kennedy Center, The Library of Congress, DC Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, and Baku Jazz Festival. As Janelle continues to be a student of life and welcomes new experiences she recently expanded her titles to musical director for the production of Toni Morrison’s Desdemona and A Tribute to Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy with InSeries Opera Company. She remains a musical educator to everyone of all walks of life.

Shacara Rogers - Vocals

Shacara Rogers is a vocalist, songwriter, and vocal coach from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated with her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Degrees from Howard University. She had been a lead soloist of Afro Blue, Howard's premier vocal jazz ensemble, and has performed at many different arenas with artists like Patti LaBelle, Dianne Reeves, Esperanza Spalding, and many others. In 2018 she released her debut album, 16 Moments, and became an internationally acclaimed artist with her first 4 week tour of Russia in 2019. Her most current releases of 2021 include a single called His Will, and a full length album entitled In Jesus’ Name I Sing. She also won the 2021 Wammie Award for Best Gospel/Inspirational Song in the DMV area with her single, His Will. Over the last nine years, this wife and mother has won many awards, released three full length albums, two singles, a music video, become an international performing artist, served seven years teaching on the collegiate level, and become an entrepreneur. She trains vocalists and public speakers under her newest business Keys to the Vox. Her future plans include continuing to dedicate her musical gifts back to her Lord and savior by releasing more Christ-center music, singing all over the world, continuing in her teaching career, and further scaling her businesses.

Lenny Robinson - Drums

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Baltimore, Lenny Robinson has become one of the leading drummer musicians in Jazz. Educated at Peabody Conservatory, Morgan State University, The Armed Forces School of Music and bandstands around the world, he has performed and or recorded with Stanley Turrentine, Marlena Shaw, Lou Donaldson, Ahmad Jamal, Terence Blanchard and a host of others. He has taught in various institutions with his last position being the Director of Bands at The Landon School in Bethesda, Md. He continues to be a performer, educator, producer and mentor in service to this great music that has become known as Jazz.

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Kenny Rittenhouse - Trumpet

Kenny Rittenhouse is an accomplished musician with a strong educational background in music, earning Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in performance and Jazz Studies. Kenny's impressive career includes serving as a member of The United States Army Band (Pershing's Own) from 1990 to 2020, notably as part of The U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble. He shared stages with renowned artists such as Ernie Andrews, Kevin Mahogany, and Arturo Sandoval. Beyond his military service, Kenny is a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and a past member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, having performed alongside legends like Jimmy Heath and Ahmad Jamal. He currently directs the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Youth Orchestra and also teaches Applied Trumpet at Morgan State University. 

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Kevin Kearney - Drums

Kevin Kearney Jr. graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and is currently studying at Peabody Conservatory. He has been a part of The Blues Alley Camp, led by Michael Bowie and The Washington Jazz Arts Institute led by Davey and Ester Yarborough as well as being in the Herbie Hancock Institute led by JB Dyas, as well as being on their peer to peer tour. He has played at places such as the Kennedy Center, Olney Theatre, Artscentric, Baltimore Center Stage and, The Vice President's home (twice). He also has had the honor of playing with many great dc musician’s such as Paul Carr, Marshall Keys, Michael Bowie, Allyn Johnson, Reginald Cyntje, Brian Settles and Jessica Settles just to name a few.​

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Connor Holdridge - Guitar

Connor Holdridge is a jazz guitarist, composer and improvisor. Steeped in electric blues, surf guitar and early jazz, he approaches music from a unique perspective, which is evident in his playing. As an artist and educator, Connor greatly values the act of collaboration. He believes the best music is created through the joy of interacting with the musicians around him. 

 

Connor can be found regularly performing in the greater Washington D.C. area in a multitude of projects: gypsy jazz band Ultrafaux/Hot Club of Baltimore, his early jazz band The Hot Mess, and the neo-soul and jazz group Attic Sessions. Additionally, he enjoys creating alongside regular collaborators such as Gabe Wallace, Joe Brotherton, Nataly Merezhuk and Taisha Estrada.

Antonio Parker - Sax

David Manley - Guitar

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