I knew as a child that I wanted to be a musician and a minister when I grew up. My father was a music teacher and a gospel preacher like his father before him. My mother was a singer, Bible-school teacher and Mom to the kids of the neighborhood wherever we lived – and we lived a lot of places throughout my birthland, Oklahoma, and Texas. We were a close multi-generational family; I have three younger brothers, and was blessed to know my Grandparents and Great-Grandparents into my young adulthood. Growing up on the Oklahoma plains surrounded by music and laughter and congregational life shaped every step to come.
Our house was like growing up in a practice hall as all us kids learned and experimented, what with the four of us singing and playing guitars, drums, trombone, tuba, piano, sax. Add in the musically inclined neighbor kids who found haven with us, it was a lovely kind of chaos. Music was breathing to me. Still is.
I took my first paying gig at 14. Our family was always part of community theater, and in my high school years Dad taught music at a small agricultural college. It was there I watched my father coax the music from the souls of baseball players and young farmers.
Upon graduating college with a BSE in Performing Arts, I set out for a career in marketing, music performance, production and education, in Los Angeles. As a performer and songwriter, I toured the US, Canada, Mexico and Japan, and played from the Kennedy Center to the stages of some of the most hallowed music festivals, universities and conferences. In 2013 released my 10thth independent CD.
As an educator, I’ve taught music, creative writing, songwriting and life-skills development from the halls of the University of Miami to the cells of maximum security women’s prisons in Florida.
In the realm of Justice Music, I am a Charter Fellow of Noel Paul Stookey’s “Music2Life Foundation,” working for justice through music by both celebrating the historic music activists before us and nurturing the next generation. The music is a ministry of itself. It has always led me to what I needed to learn and where I needed to be.
Ultimately, that long and winding music road – through shadowed valleys and over sunlit mountains -- led me to Unitarian Universalism. Here I found my full voice, rose to answer my heart’s young wish and enrolled in seminary at Andover Newton Theological Schooll – where I graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2010, and was ordained the following year by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton, where I served for three years as a student and Intern.
Presently, I work as a Board Certified hospice Chaplain and bereavement group facilitator and am Consulting Minister to the River of Grass Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Davie, Florida.
The music leads on, as I continue to provide concerts and workshops, and compose and record new music, seeking to expand and explore the humanity in divinity and the divinity in humanity. In 2013 I released my 10th CD ,”Moments: Music - Mantra - Mystery” - a celebration of devotional music from the world’s spiritual traditions as well as new Unitarian Universalist hymns and chants. My justice anthem, STAND!, debuted at the 2010 Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly with a 150 voice choir and has been taken up by UU congregations and justice champions around the world – along with the call to action Tell Somebody! released at the UUA General Assembly 2012, and the invitation to reverence, On Holy Ground.
I am privileged to travel widely within the acoustic music community and the Unitarian Universalist movement preaching, singing, speaking, facilitating a variety of workshops focused to deepen, strengthen, amplify and edify - including fifteen years of service to SUUSI (Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute) with four years on the Board. In service to the larger faith community, I regularly speak, sing and teach at interfaith events, welcoming denominations, and also have served on the Board of the Ecumenical Institute at St. Thomas University in Miami.
None of this would be possible without the incomparable love of my spouse of 18 years, Brooke Bell, my biggest fan, most discerning critic and strongest advocate, and our two sons who have flown – Graham, an artist and writer lives in Savannah, and Alex, a digital marketing designer, lives in Switzerland with his wife, Anna-Lena and our first granddaughter, Ava-Aimée.
I believe that both ministry and music are, at depth, a continuing conversation among our authentic, imperfect selves as we spiral toward what really matters most in our lives - that we may be transformed and transform our world.