Returning favourite, Nicole is a graduate from Humber College with a diploma in Jazz Studies where she honed her skills by studying with great instructors such as Trish Colter, Pat Labarbara, Denny Christianson, Shelly Berger and Don Thompson. She graduated in 1998 from Humber College and quickly started to use her God given gift becoming a sought after studio musician. Nicole was a principal soloist with the Juno-awarding winning Toronto Mass Choir for over 10 years, being featured on many of their gospel recordings.
Nicole has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Joe Hendricks, Alvin Slaughter and Shelly Berger and many other seasoned artists. Nicole was also on the inaugural television season of Canadian Idol, making it to the top 30.
Nicole is currently Music Director at MCA and is happy to share with others her unique vantage point of being not only an experienced singer, but also a seasoned gospel music artist/instructor. For over 20 years, Nicole has been using her gifts from the Lord on piano and voice to bless thousands.
A solid foundation in any band, Tim Ball had emerged as one of Toronto’s most beloved and respected bass players. With firm dedication to making every song the most it can be, Tim helps deliver a cutting edge sound that is not only fun to listen to, but also inspiring.
In his 18 years on bass, Tim has played and recorded for many of Toronto’s well-known gospel and R&B artists such as Toronto Mass Choir, York University Gospel Choir, Toya Alexis, Kim Davis, Aileen Lombardo, Mark Masri, and Echoes of Praise. Also an emerging producer and prolific songwriter, Tim heads the dynamic worship group, “For The Master”. Tim is also the music director for the Kennedy Road Tabernacle, located in Brampton, ON a church that has over 2500 regular attendees.
Joy Brown is a performer/arranger/producer/teacher/choir director. She has worked with well-known artists such as Mark Masri, Kevin Pauls, Hilario Duran, Shelly Berger, Michael Burgess, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and the Juno-Award Winning Toronto Mass Choir. She has toured as a music director, bandleader, and piano soloist throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Central America, and the West Indies.
A graduate of McMaster University with a B.Sc. in Nursing, Joy also has a B.A. from Waterloo University with a music specialty in piano. She is a Humber College Graduate in Jazz and Commercial Music for which she won the prestigious Board of Governor’s Achievement Award. Ever multi-talented, Joy is also an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music with an ARCT in Piano Performance.
Joy is happily married to Delroy and is the proud mom of Julian, Bryden, and ‘Princess’ Sara.
Rob ‘Beatdown’ Brown
Rob ‘Beatdown’ Brown is a professional session and touring drummer as well as a renowned educator and clinician. With over 25 years experience on stage and in studio, Rob has played with several artists spanning several different genres and has toured and performed on stages all across Canada.
Rob’s company endorsements are:
- Yamaha Drums
- Paiste Cymbals America
- Vic Firth Drumsticks
- D’Addario Canada (Evans Drumheads)
His popular instructional YouTube channel is currently numbered at over 2.1 million channel views and over 12,000 subscribers worldwide.
Pastor Richard Brown was born in Birmingham, England and emigrated to Canada in 1990. RJ Brown Ministries, birthed in Europe, has expanded beyond the nation of Canada, being received throughout the United States and the Caribbean. Wherever he ministers he has received the reputation for delivering a dynamic, sound word and worship ministry. His educational goals led him to Tyndale University College and Seminary where between 1999 – 2001 he completed his Bachelors Degree of Religious Education and he is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity, majoring in Pastoral Counselling. Utilizing the education he received, Pastor Brown works with the City of Toronto as a counsellor specializing in Chronic Substance Abuse and Addiction. Affectionately known as “The Chief Levite,” Pastor Brown has authored and produced many worship songs that continue to bless people around the world. He wrote and performed on his debut live worship project, “Heart of a Worshipper,” produced by Daniel Weatherspoon for Zhanre Music Group. Presently, Pastor Brown serves as Founder & Senior Pastor of Kingsway Community Life Centre in the heart of Toronto. Pastor Brown presently resides in Toronto with his wife Paula, and their children; Monique, Jazmin, Daijohn and Xavier.
Karen and her husband, Oswald own Burke Music Inc., a Gospel music company which also offers production and publishing services, consulting and choral workshops. In 1988, Karen co-founded the Toronto Mass Choir; a gospel choir and continues to serve as its principal director. She runs the choir with her husband, Oswald Burke, developing the choir’s touring schedules and choral arrangements. Since its inception, she has also written many original songs for the choir’s recordings. Karen holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from McMaster University and a Master of Education degree from York University.
Following a twelve-year stint as a high school music teacher, Burke became a Professor in the music department at York University in 2005, teaching music education and musicianship courses and developing the first post-secondary gospel music curricular courses in Canada including the 100-voice York University Gospel Choir. Her busy music career continues as a guest speaker and conductor, songwriter and clinician offering gospel music workshops for many organizations both in Canada and overseas including the Ontario Music Educators Association (OMEA), the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Burke has also spearheaded other initiatives to share gospel music with the community such as the City Youth Gospel Project.
Corey Butler currently serves as the Music Director of the Juno Award winning Toronto Mass Choir and has worked with other international artists such as Tamela Mann, co-star of the TV sitcom ‘Meet the Browns’. Mr. Butler has also had the opportunity during his career to share the stage with icons such as jazz legend, Jon Hendricks and has played with one of Canada’s piano titans, Andrew Craig on several occasions.
Mr. Butler also now serves as the Musical Director at Global Kingdom Ministries, as a music professor in the Music Industry Arts Performance program at Centennial College and as a course director of the York University Gospel Choir at York University. There is no doubt that he is making his mark on the music industry in Canada having produced the Toronto Mass Choir’s Christmas album, “A Christmas Gift”, and their most recent album, “Made For Worship”, both of which have won a number of the GMA Covenant awards.
Apart from his skills as a piano player, musical director and producer, Butler also conducts regularly a 40+-piece symphony orchestra particularly during the Easter and Christmas seasons.
Lavinia E. Celaire was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. She grew up with a Dad who is an accomplished musician and a well-respected choir director, and a Mom who also sings and plays the guitar. At age 7, Lavinia became a founding member of two female singing groups that performed and traveled around South Africa. Her love and passion for vocal music eventually compelled her to study and explore the intricate details of this art form, so she moved to the U.S. to study Vocal Performance. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Anderson University in Indiana, after which she pursued a Master’s Degree with further study at Eastern Michigan University. Lavinia has maintained a successful vocal studio for the past 20 years, and many of her former students have gone on to become professional singers, actors, teachers, and recording artists. Currently living around the Greater Toronto Area in Canada, Lavinia continues to be a very active voice teacher, performer, mentor, as well as a well-respected, strong worship leader in and around the GTA church communities.
Jenna Cowans (Burke)
Singer/songwriter, Jenna Cowans, is also an established music educator and artist in the GTA. Growing up in a musical family, Jenna has been greatly influenced by the Juno award-winning gospel choir, the Toronto Mass Choir, led by her parents, Karen and Oswald Burke. Jenna began classical piano training at 5 and she is a sought after studio vocalist as well as a prolific songwriter and arranger receiving a Covenant award for writing Made for Worship – ‘Gospel Song of the Year’ in 2015.
Jenna holds a diploma in jazz from the renowned Humber College as well as a Bachelor degree in Music from York University. Jenna is an accomplished classical pianist having studied with world-class instructors and has also studied vocals with celebrity vocal coach, Elaine Overholt.
Jenna has released three solo albums including ‘Insight’ which was nominated for two Urban/Soul Covenant awards. Jenna is a piano and vocal instructor at Centennial College and, in addition, her private teaching studio has 4 sites in Toronto. Her solo performance venues have included The El Mocambo, Lambadina Lounge, Markham Theatre, York University, Gladstone Hotel and the Harbourfront Studio Theatre.
Dr. Karen Cyrus
Music educator, researcher and musician, Karen holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from York University, and a Licentiate of the Royal schools of Music (LRSM, teaching piano). She is a registered member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT vocal intermediate) and a graduate of UWI (BA, 1990) and Mico Teachers College (Music – honors).
Karen has worked in music ministry since 1985 in a variety of positions including church pianist, playing for weddings, directing choirs, and as an accompanist. She has taught music at all levels, from pre-Kindergarten to Grade 9 and been an instructor of piano, recorder, elementary and secondary methods in a number of teacher training colleges in Jamaica along with teaching group piano classes for many years at York University.
Karen is an avid researcher with a talent for creating visuals for abstract concepts. She currently volunteers at Richmond Hill Pentecostal Church and her publications include music textbooks that are widely used in elementary and high schools in Jamaica.
Dr. Melissa Davis
Dr. Melissa Davis is an active concert soloist, music professor, choral conductor, worship leader, vocal instructor and clinician. Dedicated to the ministry of the Gospel through music, she has been a worship leader for over fifteen years, and a minister of music for over twenty-five years in the GTA and abroad. Dr. Davis received her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Vocal Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and has been a music professor at the University of Arkansas and Tyndale University College and Seminary. As a concert soloist and professional chorister, she has toured internationally singing in France, Wales, the Caribbean, the United States, and throughout Canada. She has been a guest soloist with several choirs and orchestras throughout North America and abroad including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. Melissa has conducted many ensembles, notably the 100-member University of Illinois Black Chorus and recently launched the Tyndale Community Choir for singers throughout the GTA in September 2016. Currently serving as Director of the Music Department at Tyndale University College and Seminary, she has also made frequent solo appearances on Vision TV, and CBC Radio.
As a gifted musician, singer and songwriter, Rob Greene has been a sought after soloist and worship leader in Canada and abroad. Born and raised in Dover, Delaware, Rob began singing at his home church at the age of 5. He continued his education in music, majoring in Music Education with a Choral concentration at the University of Delaware. He toured with the University of Delaware Chorale in Los Angeles, California singing at the American Choral Directors Association Conference in 2004. He developed his talents in teaching, vocal coaching, and song writing at Gateway College of Evangelism, St. Louis, Missouri and later released his single “Stand” with the college choir, chorale, and ensemble. He has continued to have numerous recording artists record and publish his music.
Rob has conducted numerous choir clinics and worked with worship teams both in Canada and the U.S. and currently resides in Belleville, where he serves as Worship Pastor at the First Pentecostal Church of Belleville directing the FPC Choir, teaching voice/piano studies, and facilitating dynamic worship experiences. It has been his desire to use singing and the gift of music to reach others with the saving message of Jesus Christ.
Darren is a musician, vocalist, arranger, songwriter, music educator and consultant. His musical journey encompasses a wide range of experiences in church, community and educational settings. Darren served as National Music and Worship Director for the Church of God of Prophecy – Eastern Canada from 2007 to 2015. His most notable contribution was coordinating and inspiring the vision behind the 2010 and 2012 Designed To Worship Music Conferences, for which he also wrote the theme song. During his tenure, he was instrumental in implementing and developing the National Youth Praise and Worship and Audio/Visual teams to serve at various events within the organization.
Darren holds a music diploma from Grant MacEwan College, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from York University, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto and recently completed a Master of Music degree in Music Education from the University of Western Ontario. He is a two-time recipient of the Harry Jerome Scholarship Fund and was awarded the 2015 Don Wright Award in Music by the University of Western Ontario.
Darren has been teaching high school music with the Peel District School Board since 2008 and currently serves as a member of Toronto Mass Choir.
Gregory Hines is no stranger to the ever-growing dance industry. Having worked since 1995 under legendary Choreographer Luther Brown as a hip hop Judge from “So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Gregory has toured all over Canada and the US for numerous artists such as Mariah Carey, rapper Eve, Jully Black, Shawn Desmond, Christina Aguilera, Maestro Glenn Lewis and many more. He has also made numerous television appearances dancing for such award shows as “The Canadian Urban Music Awards, The 2000 & 2001 Juno Awards” and the 2001 Teen Choice Awards, to name a few.
These experiences has given him many tools and intensive training to later branch out and begin his own Dance Academy, DOAHL. Gregory has had the opportunity in teaching cutting edge hip-hop workshops in Europe and was a host of a television show called “Love Is Moving”. Gregory’s dancers have performed at huge events such as Winterfest 2015 and ‘Open Heavens’ 2015 New Year’s Eve celebration. Gregory spends time motivating and inspiring the many dancers that attend the academy to reach their fullest potential in not just dance but all areas of their lives.
Robert Hunter is the Principal for AVLI, and is the company’s primary point of contact, systems designer and overall project coordinator.
Robert’s over 25 yrs of direct industry experience includes a lot of studio-based audio and video recording projects, and a huge variety of live event work, including international stadium & convention conferences and concerts. The knowledge acquired working “live” is constantly referenced, ensuring that system and design solutions are practical from a hands-on perspective.
Robert’s design development and technical training is on-going in order to keep pace with the constantly changing state of technical-arts technologies. Robert brings expertise in professional audio, video, and lighting systems design, as well as related fields like acoustics, digital control and user interface systems to the systems-integration plan for building projects, and then helps to ensure the proper implementation of the plans through the construction process.
Robert continues to take industry-related training, but has already had product, concept and system-level training from companies and industry organizations such as Synaudcon, QSC, Sony, EAW, WYSIWYG, Roland, Yamaha, JVC, Harmon Group, Draper, Jands, EASE, Smaart, Kramer, Strand, ETC, Shure and Panasonic.
Joy Lapps is a musician, composer and arts educator. Her efficiency with the tenor pan and her diverse performance range have led to performances including Toronto’s Afrofest, Muhtadi’s International Drumming Festival, Toronto’s TD Jazz Festival and Antigua’s Moods of Pan Festival. She is also a member and supporter of the Toronto-based steelband, Pan Fantasy.
Joy has released four recordings and most recently an EP of original compositions entitled “Morning Sunrise” (2014) and is currently focused on writing and arranging new music for her ensembles. She recently completed a Masters in Music Composition at York University and looks forward to a new chapter of creation, collaboration and performance.
In addition to her work as a stage musician, Joy spent six years working in various roles at Drum Artz Canada, a registered charity committed to making music and arts programming accessible to all people. She now serves on the DAC board, the Toronto Arts Council Community Arts Committee and the Board of Directors for the Toronto Mass Choir.
During the academic year, she visits various schools as an Ontario Arts Council Artist in Residence. And at venues such at the Downsview Public Library serving as the branch’s Toronto Arts Council Artist in Residence, providing free lessons, workshops and special performances for the community.
Colette Leader-Kalumbi is an author, educator and creative soul who loves music. She shares her love of music with children and adults alike, writing books that teach life lessons with musical components and sharing seminars through the Pathfinder Ministry on creativity. She has released two steel pan instrumental albums; one with her sisters and in October 2016, another with her husband titled, “All Nature Sings”. For the last 6 years, Colette has directed the annual Power Up Youth choir and enjoys every minute of it. With her Masters of Science in Education she is able to mix what she loves with the tools she has obtained to bring others closer to God.
When she is not singing with the Toronto Mass Choir, playing the steel pan with Sisters of Steel, or writing, she continues to work on other creative ventures and ministers alongside her husband, Pascal, in various capacities.
American-born and Canadian raised, Josette Leader, has been ministering on the steelpan for the past 14 years. She started out in a group called The Leader Sisters/ Sisters of Steel with her sisters, Colette and Zinette. Together, the trio has performed across Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. Over time, Josette has grown to love a variety of musical genres including Classical, Jazz, Afrobeat, Pop and her ultimate favourite, Gospel. While a student at York University, Josette was able to explore these genres as a member of the York Tones Steelband and credits these experiences as playing a pivotal role in the development of her personal style of steelpan performance.
Aside from her time on stage, Josette is pursuing a career as a registered social worker as it combines her passion for helping others and being a change agent for a better tomorrow. In mid 2016, she, along with a partner, founded a community program “Get it Together” which uses creative art as a vehicle to equip youth with life skills, facilitate empowerment through self-expression and to be engaged in their communities.
A musician, songwriter, arranger, producer, clinician, mentor, Gospel Dynamic Duets Executive producer and judge, and most recently the co-founder of Catapult Media & Entertainment Stephen Lewis continues to make an impact in the Christian Music community
Having worked with a number of groups and churches, highlights of Stephen’s ministry include functioning as Music Director for Juno Award winning gospel artist Sharon Riley & Faith Chorale, Assistant Musical Director at Kingdom Covenant Centre, Band Director at Kingsway Community Life Centre, and Musical Director of Music & Worship Arts at Rhema Christian Ministries.
Stephen has several songwriter credits on Canadian and American gospel artist albums,
including co-production of the album “Heart of a Worshipper” with Daniel Weatherspoon; the solo project of Richard J Brown. Most recently, executive production credits for “I AM GOD” the debut album of his wife Alynthia and production credits for Echoes of Praise’s freshman project “Hymns” as well as “In His Presence” by Mount Zion Fellowship Choir.
Through the gifts he possesses and harvesting a spirit of excellence, Stephen continues to write and produce music that transforms lives and ushers believers and non-believers into the presence of God.
James Linderman runs his own songwriting, composing, and recording pre-production facility in Newmarket, Ontario. He teaches guitar, piano and theory as well as contemporary songwriting and composition, in studio, as well as over Skype to students all over the world.
James has been associated with Berklee college of Music in Boston for ten years as an academic advisor and a patron and contributor to the James Linderman Wing, a wing of a Nashville-based academic resource library named for him.
James has been a freelance lead guitarist for many groups and was the worship team electric lead guitarist for the Global Day of Prayer celebration at The Air Canada Centre in Toronto in 2006.
James’ songs have received airplay in the UK and the US and on Canadian Christian radio, ranked in the top 50 songs for overall airplay in 2006 and stayed in the top 10 through most of 2007.
For the last 10 years, James has been a featured guest presenter at a number of music conferences and songwriting workshops. He is also a song assessor for The Songwriters Association of Canada and was the Exclusive Challenge Songwriting Coach for the 2015 Songwriters of Canada 6 Week Songwriting Challenge and is currently a regular columnist and songwriting blogger for Canadian Musician Magazine.
A multi-award winning recording artist, Ali Matthews has been a performing songwriter since her teens and has built a strong following across Canada and beyond. She has released 6 critically acclaimed CDs since 2000 on her independent music label, ‘Shake-a-Paw Music’ and her CDs are distributed nationally through David C. Cooke Distribution.
As a graduate of The University of Western Ontario, where she studied English and Drama, song writing is her natural passion. Ali’s song-writing and performing are highly respected in both the Christian and the mainstream music industry due to her accessible, honest lyrics and her ability to weave the “spiritual” into everyday life experiences.
Ali has received 14 GMA Covenant Awards and 34 nominations since 2004. She was a winner in the 2006 International Song-writing Competition, The Canadian National Song-writing Competition, The Word Guild Canadian Writers Awards and she was named Woman of the Year in the City of Stratford for her outstanding contribution to the Arts. She received nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year at the prestigious 2010 and 2011 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards.
Joel Parisien is a singer/songwriter from Toronto, Canada, now based in Niagara Falls. He is also the front man/principal writer for gospel group Newworldson, whose accomplishments include:
- Singing with Nashville-based record label Inpop records (Mat Kearney, newsboys)
- Earning four Juno© nominations for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album Of The Year: 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013
- In 2010, their first single “There Is A Way” peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Music chart for Christian songs (US)
- In 2012, their second single “Learning To Be The Light” peaking at number 3 (March 24, 2012) and remaining on that same Billboard chart for nearly a year.
- Headliner for major festivals across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand
Parisien also co-wrote “Kings and Queens”, the comeback single for Grammy-award winning group Audio Adrenaline, which peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Music chart for Christian songs and remained on the chart for the entire calendar year of 2013.
Cassandra Powell (Sommers)
Cassandra has had a love for music from a young age. She studied music at Christian Life College in Stockton, CA. Currently she is the music director at Toronto First Church.
In 2001 she founded the music company, Divinely Orchestrated Music Group where she teaches piano and vocal classes. In 2008, Cassandra was a judge and vocal coach on the show “Gospel Dynamic Duets”.
In 2010, Cassandra was nominated for a Covenant Award for Gospel Song of the Year for her song “Grateful”. She travels regularly overseas as a vocal clinician and has helped many churches, schools & organizations with their music programs. Cassandra is also a music professor at Canada Christian College. Whether it be teaching, leading worship or coordinating music events, Cassandra feels passionate about living a life that honours her God-given purpose.
Natalie is a music consultant, clinician, arranger, director, educator, and pianist. She comes from a musical family filled with musicians, worship leaders, psalmists and music producers. After graduating from the Honours Music Programme at McMaster University, she went on to complete her Masters degree in Ethnomusicology at York University with a research focus in gospel music. Natalie believes in using her experience, skills and musical knowledge to invest in others and help them reach their musical potential.
She has been teaching privately and corporately for over 15 years and has taught courses in worship, ear training and musicianship at the post-secondary level. Currently, Natalie keeps busy as the vocal director at Agincourt Pentecostal Church in Toronto. . She is also a music professor in the Music Industry Arts Performance program at Centennial College, and runs her own business offering a litany of musical services including arranging/composing, BGVs, music workshops, consultations and music lessons).