Moira Smiley is a Singer / Composer who creates and performs new work for voices. A musical polyglot, and vocal shape-shifter, her voice – and composing – are heard on feature films, BBC
& PBS television programs, NPR, and on more than 60 albums. She accompanies herself with banjo, accordion, piano and percussive movement, and when she’s not leading her own group, moira smiley & VOCO, Moira has toured with Indie artist tUnE-yArDs, Irish super-group, Solas, The Lomax Project and Billy Childs’ “Laura Nyro Re-Imagined”. She’s also toured with Paul Hiller’s Theater of Voices and KITKA. Recent solo performances include TED, Stravinsky’s ‘Les Noces’, the London Proms Festival, features on BBC Radio3, and ABC Australia’s Books & Arts programs. Moira’s recordings feature spare, vocally driven collections of warped traditional songs, original polyphony and body percussion. She is a well-known choral composer and arranger, with millions of singers around the world singing her works.
Joining Moira and April for VOCO’s return to FoV; singer, fiddler and songwriter, Laura Cortese lights up the stage with attitude and drive.
She deftly strums, plucks and chops her fiddle behind her raw and rootsy voice. Laura has been at the heart of a creative renaissance in the acoustic music scene of the Northeastern U.S. in the past few years. At home in any number of traditional styles, her highly-visible work as a supporting musician (on fiddle, vocals, and bass) includes appearances with Uncle Earl, Tao Seeger, Band of Horses, and – as part of Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden – Patterson Hood and Michael Franti. The past two years have found Cortese in creative overdrive, balancing sideman duties, co-founding of the Boston Celtic Music Festival, solo tours, and critically acclaimed releases of her own music. Her vocal influences range from Otis Redding to Neko Case while being rooted in her formal training at Berklee College of Music and the traditional Scottish ballads she discovered as a young girl in California. She is sought-after around the globe as a teacher of traditional music and collaborative music-creation. lauracortese.com
Pilar Díaz is a bi-lingual songwriter and vocalist who creates music for big and small screens, while writing for her solo music project (María Del Pilar) and other artists/bands.
Her unique songwriting and performing is due to the seamless duality of her identity, that of a Chilean-born California-raised girl. Additionally, she credits her music and performance education at CalArts, her huge involvement in the US Latin alternative music community (where CNN describes her as one of the most important voices of the genre), as well as her four years working with composer Danny Elfman as the best preparation for pursuing this artistic path that she so loves. Noticeable music and singing placements include: Parenthood (NBC), The Fosters (ABC Family), Castle (ABC), two national Chevrolet commercials, and most recently – you can hear her haunting vocals on the theme song for The Lottery (Lifetime). More about Pilar at maria-del-pilar.com
According to Garrison Keillor, Sally Dworsky has “the voice of an angel”, and she brings that ethereal, emotional voice to life as a songwriter, mother, and musical leader.
Sally grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota surrounded by a family of musicians, and immersed herself in the Twin Cities thriving theatre and music scene. The path eventually led to Los Angeles where Sally continued singing for her supper: harmonizing with artists like R.E.M., Peter Gabriel, Don Henley, Teddy Thompson and many others, as well as giving voice to animated characters in films including The Lion King, Shrek and Prince of Egypt
Sally released a solo EP, Habit Trail, and later paired up with singer/songwriter Chris Hickey to lead the much-lauded band Uma. They released fare well in 1998, and continue to participate in each other’s solo work. They co-wrote many of the songs on Sally’s most recent album, Boxes. (Hickey does a little singing and strumming there as well). As a songwriter, Sally has collaborated with Eels, Joe Henry, Jane Siberry, Larry Klein and Jonatha Brooke, to name a few. Sally periodically returns to her native Minnesota and performs on radio’s A Prairie Home Companion with her brother Rich, the pianist and musical director of the show. Sister and brother collaborated on a record of beloved songs by other writers, Start It All Over Again. sallydworsky.com
Singer/whistler/performer Emily Eagen is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, an alum of Macalester College and The University of Madison-Wisconsin, and a former Fulbright scholar to the Hague, the Netherlands.
Emily currently lives and works in New York City. She is an active performer of early music, contemporary music, and traditional American music, as well as an avid experimenter in musical genres of all kinds. emilyeagen.com
Abigail Nessen Bengson is a performer, writer and activist. Based in NYC, NY she performs as a soloist for musical theater, hip-hop, and has written several one-woman shows and music for her duo The Bengsons.
Her performances have seen her with the Royal Shakespeare Company, New York Hip-Hop Theater Festival and La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club as well as at refugee camps in the American Northeast. Her work has also taken her to France with the Roy Hart Theatre, to Ghana with the Ghanean National Theater and to Norway with the popular band, Brelsk. She is currently on tour with her husband in The Bengsons. bengsons.com
Genesis of a singing cellist: Jody Redhage began playing piano at age 4, singing in her church’s childrens’ choir at 6, and began cello lessons at age 10 with Norwegian violinist Kristian Gippo in St Louis, MO.
Her family moved to Raleigh, NC when Jody was 11, and she studied cello with Virginia Hudson for six years, during which time she realized her true passion for performance. High School highlights involved playing the Haydn C Major and Elgar Cello Concertos with several North Carolina orchestras, and gaining leadership experience as principal cellist of the NC High School Honors Orchestra. After a childhood of singing every day, as a freshman majoring in cello performance at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music, Redhage terribly missed her daily “singing-¬‐ fix.” At age 19, she revisited her love of singing by beginning to compose her own art songs for voice and strings. In 1999, she transferred to the University of California Berkeley, where she majored in cello performance and music composition. Cello studies were with Bonnie Hampton and Irene Sharp, and composition lessons with John Thow. She graduated with highest honors and was awarded the prestigious Eisner prize in the arts at UC Berkeley, and the department’s one annual “Department Citation” for overall excellence among the music majors of her year. She was a recipient of the Mary Nunes Souza prize, allowing her to attend the 2001 International Cello Festival in Manchester, England, the John King Scholarship, and was also winner of the 2001 UC Berkeley concerto competition. In 2004, as a practical, fun, and challenging endeavor, she took a brave step and began simultaneously performing both the voice and cello parts to her compositions. Since then, Redhage has developed the ability to sing and play intricate and rhythmical complex musical lines. Many of her current projects employ her abilities as a singing-¬‐cellist, including her classical commissioning project, her band BOTANICA, the Steve Hudson Chamber Ensemble, and notably, Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society.
Dynamic singer-songwriter, Inga Swearingen mixes her translucent voice with song rooted in family, nature, love and human spirit.
An agile performer and improvisor, Inga studied vocal jazz at Cal Poly and finished her masters in choral conducting at Florida State University in 2005. During that time, she received her first invitation to appear on Garrison Keillor’s renowned radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, an opportunity that has led to over a dozen appearances on the show. Inga also won first place at the Montreux Jazz Festival Shure Vocal Competition, and now takes her signature songwriting, audience participation and teaching around the world. ingaswearingen.com
“Inga has a gorgeous voice, very fresh and evocative and note-perfect, and that’s the sort of person you want to sing harmony to.”
– Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion
Kristen Toedtman is a versatile singer, songwriter and performer excelling in ensemble singing with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Concord Ensemble; soloing with those groups and with Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra;
appearing as back-up singer with Duncan Sheik, David Poe, The Brendan Hines and breaking hearts as herself, leading her own band and choir singing original bluesy pop songs. In addition, she has shared the stage with Barbra Streisand, David Foster Wallace, Seth McFarlane, John C Reilly and more from the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall to the storied Hotel Cafe, the Bootleg Theater and packed, sweaty warehouses with The Baltimore Afrobeat Society, of which she is a founding member. See more at kristentoedtman.com