The Featured Presenters for the 2023 Vocal Arts Conference

Kim Nazarian

Kim NazarianFor the past 29 years Kim Nazarian has been harmonizing all over the world with New York Voices (NYV). In 2012 Ms. Nazarian was recognized as one of the top 50 most influential Armenian artists, and inducted into her High School’s Hall of Fame.

Along with the many recordings Kim has made with NYV, she is proud to be one of the featured voices on Bobby McFerrin’s “VOCAbuLarieS” CD. Another recent professional highlight is Ms. Nazarian’s collaboration with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Manchester Craftman’s Guild on a concert tour dedicated to the late, great Ella Fitzgerald. Kim also enjoys being part of a special program called “Vocalese,” (created by visionary producer, Larry Rosen), which integrates NYV with Manhattan Transfer, and Jon Hendricks.

Peter Eldridge

Peter EldridgeFor years Peter Eldridge has remained at the forefront of both the singer-songwriter and jazz realms as a vocalist, pianist, composer, and arranger. He has four critically acclaimed albums: Stranger in Town, Fool No More, Decorum, and Mad Heaven. His latest studio project, Disappearing Day, was released in July 2016 on Sunnyside Records and called “an out and out masterpiece” by allaboutjazz. Disappearing Day made many ‘best of the year’ lists, including Downbeat, Jazziz, and NPR. Some of Peter’s current projects include his first full-fledged musical with the working title of ‘The Woman in Question’, co-written with Chicago playwright Cheryl Coons about the life, loves, and art of Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt; an upcoming recording of ballads with string orchestra and jazz trio, featuring pianist/arranger Kenny Werner and cellist Eugene Friesen, and Foolish Hearts, an acoustic duo featuring Peter with bassist Matt Aronoff.

Eldridge is also a founding member of internationally acclaimed vocal group, New York Voices. The group continues to tour internationally and has performed in some of the world’s most preeminent venues and festivals, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Kennedy Center, and has been involved in two Grammy-award winning projects with Paquito D’Rivera and the Count Basie Orchestra.

Dr. Keith Brautigam

Keith BrautigamAn international performer and vocal pedagogue, Dr. Keith Brautigam’s credits range from the concert and opera stage to vocal training at universities, choral organizations, and opera apprenticeship programs throughout the USA and abroad. As an over 30-year professor of voice, Brautigam’s students have been accepted into prestigious graduate and apprenticeship programs, and are working in venues ranging from lead roles with the Metropolitan Opera, renowned international opera companies, and Broadway tours; to university voice positions, secondary education classrooms, and church positions throughout the US.

As a baritone soloist, performances range from Orff’s Carmina Burana and Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Robert Porco; to opera engagements as Germont in La Traviata with Chautauqua Opera; Schaunard in La Boheme and The Sergeant of Police in Pirates of Penzance with Cleveland Opera; Papageno with Opera Grand Rapids; and Tonio in I Pagliacci with Skylight Opera Theater. In addition, he is a decades-long soloist with the Fort Wayne Bach Collegium, and has been in demand as a performer of Handel's Messiah, the Bach Passions, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn's Creation, and the Fauré and Brahms Requiems, among numerous others.

Before joining Heartland Sings as the full-time Director of Education, Dr. Brautigam retired as full professor from the voice faculty of Indiana Wesleyan University, after previously serving on the faculties of Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI; the Baldwin-Wallace University Conservatory of Music in Berea, OH; Moody Bible Institute in Chicago; and Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana.

Darmon Meader

Darmon MeaderRecognized in both the jazz vocal and instrumental worlds, Darmon Meader is a highly respected vocalist, arranger and saxophonist. Darmon has achieved international recognition as the founder, musical director, chief arranger, composer, producer, saxophonist, and vocalist with New York Voices. As a member of New York Voices, he has released numerous recordings on the GRP, RCA/Victor, Concord and MCGJazz labels. In 2013, NYV will release two new CDs: New York Voices, Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne and their long awaited Christmas CD, Let it Snow, both of which feature Darmon’s extensive arranging skills. In 2008, Darmon released his much anticipated debut solo CD, And So Am I. This solo project is a collection of jazz standards and original works, which reflects his varied interests and skills as a singer, saxophonist, writer and arranger.

Lauren Kinhan

Lauren KinhanVocalist and composer Lauren Kinhan has been creating genre-merging music for years as evidenced on her four solo CD’s, Circle in a Square, Avalon and Hardly Blinking and her most recent all standard collection, A Sleepin’ Bee. You’ll also hear her offerings evidenced in the New York Voices’ family of sound.

In 2017 she released A Sleepin’ Bee, paying tribute to the great jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson. Focusing on her iconic collaboration with Cannonball Adderley and other earlier works with George Shearing, Lauren curated and soulfully crafted 10 tracks with pianist Andy Ezrin that are receiving much worldwide praise, “…brilliance in interpreting ballads, off-the-cuff maneuvers in bluesy and bawdy environments, whip-smart interactions with the instrumentalists—and you end up with a complete picture of her talents and the manners in which she claims these songs as her own,” said Allaboutjazz.

James Wigginton

James Wigginton has had the honor of serving as vocal coach for Luke Combs, Brian Kelley (Florida Georgia Line), Nicolle Galyon (writer of “Tequila,” “We Were Us” and too many others to list), William Michael Morgan, Brett Eldredge, Lindsay Ell, Kerry Degman (CMT’s “Music City”), Muscadine Bloodline (Gary Stanton and Charlie Muncaster) as well as John Michael Montgomery, Pam Tillis and countless others you’ve not heard of (yet!).

Training and coaching voices for over 3 decades (yes, 30+ years), "Jamie" has dedicated his life to studying, developing and implementing the most effective methods and techniques to bring about profound improvements for his artists. He has completed over 50 international tours, presenting master classes, concerts, private lessons and recording studio coaching. He is also regularly hired for commissioned works—choral and orchestral—and conducts the recording sessions.

Robert Nance

Robert Nance is a multi-talented musician who maintains a lively schedule as conductor, keyboardist, teacher, composer, clinician, and arts advocate.

A distinguished graduate of DePauw University School of Music (Indiana) and the Peabody Conservatory (Baltimore), Nance is the President and Founding Artistic Director of Heartland Sings, Inc., a company of professional vocal artists and ensembles founded in 1997. He is also the Director of Music at Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne and the founder of Mobile Performing Arts LLC.

He has received many honors and awards to his credit, including guest conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a recipient of the Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and appeared on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. His “Attitude Series” of keyboard recordings are favorites and his recording “The Spirit of Christmas” featuring Heartland Sings continues to receive rave reviews.

Maestro Nance has made Fort Wayne his home for over a quarter century, where he has distinguished himself as a dedicated performer and teacher, innovative and entrepreneurial arts producer, and a capable community leader. In honor of his commitment to the arts, in 2017 he was awarded “Artist of the Year” by Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne.

About Heartland Sings

Heartland Sings, Inc. is a nonprofit vocal music production company based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Founded in 1997 by Maestro Robert Nance, Heartland Sings creates a variety of vocal music productions and educational outreach programs.

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