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Faith Kelley is a 2021 senior at Pershing high school. She has a love for singing, academics, and robotics, and has a special knack for creative writing. After high school, Faith plans to receive a college education and eventually start her own business. Her original play, Only If You Believe You Can, has been developed by the aid of her mentor, Joseph Zettelmaier, and will be brought to life through performance on the virtual stage during our New Voices: Detroit 2021 event.
Kaliq White is a 2021 Senior at Detroit School of Arts majoring in Radio & Television. He is a passionate musician and performer and takes pride in being a budding composer and arranger. Kaliq celebrates what music can do for the human spirit, local communities and the world. Mr. White has traveled locally and nationally as a vocal ensemble member with some of Detroit’s most treasured youth ensembles for over 5 years, and is thrilled to advance his skills as an artist as he transitions to college this fall. More than anything, he wants to make a lasting impact in the lives of others through the magic of music.
Shakil Koysar is a high school senior and loves to watch movies. In fact, Shakil, wants to become a producer, a director, and a writer as he moves into the next phase of his life. You might recognize his writing from his story last year, “Miniature Town” – one of the many stories he has loved to write and create.
Sumaya Khatun is currently a sophomore in high school and finds her joy and sense of purpose through music. She also enjoys creative writing, draws upon her own personal experiences to create new works of art. She dreams of becoming a pop singer and looks to powerful artists within the industry as her inspiration.
Zharia Rose Hunter is a Cass Tech freshman and enjoys reading and all types of art. She also enjoys spending time with her sister and friends. She is a Suzuki trained violinist and a member of the Dearborn Youth Symphony. In addition to being a star student, Zharia plays tennis and enjoys learning new languages in her free time.
Alexis Harris is a senior at Renaissance High School. Her love of music began at age 11, when she began to learn the upright bass. Alexis fell in love with music all over again as she learned the piano and joined her high school’s choral program. Alexis is now the president of Renaissance Varsity Chorus and plans to continue her musical journey while pursuing a career in mathematics at an HBCU in the fall of 2021.
Rontasha “Tazha” Griggs is a 17-year-old artist. Her love for music started at age 5, and she hasn’t stopped singing since. She also began to write creatively at age 10, and found joy in creating new worlds through the written word. When Rontasha isn’t singing or writing, you can find her scoring points on the basketball court, with her love of sports pushing her forward creatively and competitively.
Joshua Andrade is a senior at DEPSA ECE (Detroit Edison Public School Academy Early College of Excellence), a songwriter for the Heroes Tech Program, and a member of the Mosaic Immerse Program. Joshua originally heard about the New Voices: Detroit opportunity through Mosaic, and is thrilled to participate as a composer.
Brandon Waddles choral compositions and arrangements have been published and performed by choral ensembles around the world, including the Morehouse College and University of Michigan Glee Clubs, Oakwood Aeolians, Westminster Choir, Brigham Young University Singers and the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir. In 2019, he was awarded as the inaugural recipient of the ACDA Diverse Voices Collaborative Grant. In addition, he has worked as a transcriber of Black gospel music for numerous choral octavos, hymnals and hymnal supplements published by GIA, including his recent work as a contributing editor for the One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism hymnal. Brandon recently released Just In Case You’ve Forgotten, the first selected compendium of works by the late Thomas Whitfield, the subject of his dissertation.
William Harrison is a native of Detroit, MI and is no stranger to the concert stage. William is a proud honors graduate of Cody High School and alumnus of Indiana University. He is a doctoral student at Liberty University with a concentration in Ethnomusicology. William has an active career as a pianist, vocalist, and conductor. Mr. Harrison served as music director at the Catholic Church of the Madonna in Detroit and Interim Musician at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral and was Minister of Music at the Historic Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Detroit. Recently, William completed “Stations of the Cross: Through the Eyes of Social Justice,” a devotional reflection on the Way of the Cross of Christ through the lens of social justice concerns in the African American community. He has also founded an eponymous Chorale that is focused on preserving, commissioning, and performing the works of African American composers.
Maurice Draughn, a native of Detroit, is an accomplished harpist, prize-winning organist, pianist, composer and singer performing locally and nationally as a freelance artist and recitalist. He has toured extensively in the United States and abroad with various ensembles. In addition to his teaching and conducting career, he is also a harpist, regularly performing with professional orchestras and ensembles throughout Southeastern Michigan and Western Ontario. Beyond the stage, Mr. Draughn has contributed to numerous commercial and educational projects as a studio musician. His compositions and arrangements are frequently performed by choral as well as harp ensembles. Mr. Draughn is currently the Director of Choral Activities at Cass Technical High School.
Reginald Bowens’ gifted art has wrought him an exceptional background over the years, working with accomplished artists, such as Bobby McFerrin, and Smokie Robinson, to name a few. After completion of his undergraduate degree program at Howard University, he appeared on season three of NBC’s hit a cappella television show “The Sing-Off” as a contestant, arranger, and music director with Afro Blue. This experience led him to found his A Cappella Camp in 2013 (www.theacappellacamp.com), which appeared on Fox 8 News’ Kickin’ It With Kenny (Cleveland, OH). He is an accomplished arranger in the a cappella and jazz communities, and his arrangements and performances have brought him recognition in DownBeat Magazine’s Student Music Awards over the years. He is an instructor of jazz voice at Cleveland State University, developing an inaugural course of study in the School of Music.
Dan Johnson is an award-winning actor, writer and theatre person who, since graduating from Eastern Michigan University in 2011 with his B.A. in Communication and Performance Arts, has been lucky enough to call SE Michigan home. He has also become an advocate for anti-racism in Michigan theatre, and, along with his partner Ashley M. Lyle (blaqn.org), created and conducted “Toward An Anti-Racist Michigan Theatre,” a statement and workshop meant to help facilitate the work of positive, transformative change in 2020 and beyond. In his spare time, he works at a hospital and collects too many action figures.
Asia Marie Hicks is a multidisciplinary artist residing in the Metro Detroit area. They have performed/directed with organizations such as Black and Brown Theatre, Planet Ant, Matrix Theatre Company, The Ringwald Theatre, and Theatre Nova. Most recently, Asia had the opportunity to Assistant Direct alongside the Detroit Public Theatre in their production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch last February. Also spending time in front of the camera, Asia has been featured in several commercial and film roles over the years. They enjoy spending whatever free-time they have leftover performing raunchy stand-up comedy all across the Metro Detroit Area, and singing karaoke at any venue available. Asia holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Performance/Directing from Western Michigan University (Go Broncos!).
Jill Dion is a graduate of the Moscow Art Theatre School (MXT) and a founding member of its Sixth Studio. In addition to her expertise in the Russian method of movement training, she is a certified Pilates instructor and teacher of ballroom dance. Jill is the program director of Wayne State’s “Month in Moscow” program,
where, each June, she leads a group of American students to study and train at MXT, the world-famous home of contemporary acting training. She is also the artistic director of WSU’s musical theatre outreach program, Motor City Cabaret, as well as a professional director and choreographer.
Gary Anderson, is Producing Artistic Director and co-founder of Plowshares Theatre Company. A 2016 Kresge Artist Fellow, he is noted expert in Black Theatre. Throughout his career he has worked with such well known playwrights as Charles “Oyamo” Gordon, Ron Milner, and August Wilson, producer Woodie King, Jr. and actresses Denise Nicholas, Ella Joyce and Stephanie Mills. Among his awards are: Alain Locke Cultural Arts Award from The Friends of African and African American Art, Detroit Institute of Arts; Publisher’s Award for Excellence – Between the Lines’ Oscar Wilde Awards; the 2002 Michiganian of the Year Award from The Detroit News; and The Lawrence DeVine Award for Outstanding Contribution from The Detroit Free Press. Considered an expert in the field of Black Theater, Anderson collaborated with The Billie Holiday Theatre, The Craft Institute, and WACO Theatre Center to establish the Black Seed, a $10 million initiative designed to support America’s Black Theatre community.
Joseph Zettelmaier is a Michigan-based playwright and four-time nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Award for best new play, first in 2006 for All Childish Things, then in 2007 for Language Lessons, in 2010 for It Came From Mars and in 2012 for Dead Man’s Shoes. His plays The Stillness Between Breaths and It Came From Mars were selected to appear in the National New Play Network’s Festival of New Plays. It Came From Mars was a recipient of 2009’s Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. Dead Man’s Shoes received the same award in 2011. Joseph is an adjunct lecturer at Eastern Michigan University, where he teaches Dramatic Composition, Stage Management, Stage Combat, and Play Production. He also teaches theatre courses at Schoolcraft College. He’s an Artistic Associate and Resident Playwright at First Folio Theatre, an At Large Ambassador for the National New Play Network, and Artistic Director of Penny Seats Theatre.
Juliana Gonzalez is a bilingual playwright and theatre-maker, first-generation Colombian and Puerto Rican from Paterson, New Jersey. She has written plays and taught playwriting courses in Spanish and English in Portland, Oregon and here in Detroit through Black and Brown Theatre, where she is an Advisory Board member. Her works have been produced by schools and theater companies in NYC, Portland, and Detroit. She holds a BFA in Drama and English from Vassar College.
Michael D. Dinwiddie is a playwright/composer and associate professor in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. A dramatist whose works have been produced in New York, regional, and educational theater, he has served as playwright-in-residence at Michigan State University, St. Louis University and La Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Playwriting and a Walt Disney Fellowship at Touchstone Pictures, among others. He was commissioned by Mosaic Youth Theatre to write NORTHERN LIGHTS 1966, which was produced by Mosaic in 2011 and revived in 2018. In 2020 he was a mentor in the New Voices Program at Mosaic. Michael completed his undergraduate studies at NYU’s Gallatin School and earned the M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. A member of the Dramatists Guild, the Writers Guild of America, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the Black Theatre Network, Michael serves on the governance task force of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG). He was recently inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
José Casas is a playwright, director, and Assistant Professor who heads the Playwriting Minor in the Department of Theatre & Drama at the University of Michigan. He has a B.A. in Dramatic Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a M.A. in Theatre Arts from California State University, Los Angeles, a M.F.A. in Playwriting from Arizona State University, as well graduate work in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities graduate program at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and TYA/USA. He is also a board member of The Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. His plays include aDoBe, the vine, 14, la ofrenda, Desvelado, a rose grows beyond the wall, jj’s place, a million whispers in the wind, somebody’s children, Pedro y El Lobo, Desvelado, and Flint. His plays, la ofrenda and somebody’s children were recipients of both the Bonderman National Playwriting for Youth Award and the American Alliance of Theatre and Education’s Distinguished Play Award. His book, Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latina/o Theatre for Young Audiences, edited with Christina Marín, was a recipient of an AATE Distinguished Book Award. He is currently working on the book, Every Great Dream: Visioning African American Theatre for Young Audiences (2022), to be published by Dramatic Publishing.
Michael D. Dinwiddie is a playwright/composer and associate professor in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. A dramatist whose works have been produced in New York, regional, and educational theater, he has served as playwright-in-residence at Michigan State University, St. Louis University and La Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Playwriting and a Walt Disney Fellowship at Touchstone Pictures, among others. He was commissioned by Mosaic Youth Theatre to write NORTHERN LIGHTS 1966, which was produced by Mosaic in 2011 and revived in 2018. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Michael grew up in Detroit where he attended Newberry Elementary School, The Roeper School and Cass Technical High School. As a teenager, he founded Detroit’s Satori Theatre Company and toured Europe as an actor/pianist with Powell Lindsay’s Suitcase Theatre. He spent three years at Wayne State University in the BFA Acting/Directing Program before moving to New York to write, compose and perform. Michael completed his undergraduate studies at NYU’s Gallatin School and earned the M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. A member of the Dramatists Guild, the Writers Guild of America, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the Black Theatre Network, Michael serves on the governance task force of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG). He was recently inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Photographer: D’Ambrose Boyd
Harron Atkins is a Brooklyn based writer/actor and graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama. He was a Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room Fellow (after which he was offered a development deal with Sesame), he was a fellow in the WGA Made in New York Writers Room where he was mentored by Thomas Kelly (The Purge, The Get Down), a Sundance Episodic Lab semi-finalist, and he is currently a member of the Obie Award Winning playwrights group, Youngblood. His plays have been produced in theatres from New York City to right back in his hometown, Detroit. Harron seeks to battle repression and lift people out of self doubt by writing about Black/POC and queer characters struggling with identity and learning to live authentically and 100% out loud!
Emilio Rodriguez is a playwright and theatre maker who started his career at the age 2 performing one-kid adaptations of The Wizard of Oz in his parents’ living room using a broom, a funnel and a pair of his mama’s high heels. Since then his plays have gone on to bigger venues for audiences in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Portland, Sacramento, Minneapolis, and Puerto Vallarta. Emilio was the recipient of the 2017 Robert Chesley/Victor Bumbalo award for playwriting and the 2018 Kresge Artist in Detroit Award. He was part of the inaugural team of playwrights for the 2015 Latinx Theatre Commons and the 2016 Mitten Lab. Emilio was the guest playwright for the 2017 Theatre Kalamazoo Festival and the 2019 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Midwest Region. This past summer he taught students from Kalamazoo College how to write their own play that will be presented in 2021. Emilio currently teaches playwriting and acting at Michigan Actors Studio and is the artistic director of Black and Brown Theatre.
An advocate of theatre as a means for social change, Marilyn is beyond grateful to be a part of a team of artists with similar goals and vision to fertilize that seed here in Detroit. Inspired and encouraged by her 2 children and her immediate family, Marilyn has actively been involved with the arts as a teacher, consultant and director at Wayne State University, Howard University, with Plowshares Theatre, African Renaissance Theatre, and at Christian Tabernacle Church among other places.
As a teacher and director in Detroit for 40years at Cass Technical High School in the Performing Arts Department, her productions include:
Professional credits include:
Recipient of numerous awards: outstanding teacher, teacher of the year, sankofa award, michigan educator trailblazer award, spirit of Detroit awards and the recipient of the 2016 Tony Award for excellence in theatre arts education. Chosen from 1,100 nominees nationally she is the second teacher to receive this honor.