Pianist Portia Shuler Hawkins holds degrees from Fisk University and Yale University School of Music. Her private piano teachers include: Geneva Handy Southall, Matthew and Anne Kennedy, Ward Davenny, Francis Whang and George Walker. Mrs. Hawkins has taught at Georgia Perimeter University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Agnes Scott College. Her CD, “African American Sampler”, is heard on WABEFM radio , Atlanta, and several public radio stations throughout the country. Several years ago, she edited a piano collection of works by William Grant Still at the request of his daughter, Judith Still.
Presently, Portia performs collaborative concerts throughout the region, teaches privately in her Roswell studio, and frequently serves as a vocal and instrumental accompanist. In addition, she is the organist at the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Roswell, Georgia. Mrs. Hawkins is an adjudicator for and is an active member of the Georgia Music Teachers Association, The National Federation of Music Clubs, and Mu Phi Epsilon International Professional Fraternity. She has been recently named as a member of the Executive Board of Georgia Music Teachers Association.
Board and Directors
Lori Ann Christian is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ms. Christian holds degrees from Duquesne University and the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where she is currently completing requirements for the Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree. She has served as an assistant professor of Music at Clark Atlanta University and has taught Applied Voice at Duquesne University and Spelman College. Ms. Christian has appeared in recitals, concerts and operas in the U.S. and abroad.
As a concert artist, she has sung the title role of Zaide in the Pittsburgh premiere and toured as a featured soloist with the New Sigmund Romberg Orchestra. A versatile performer, she has been noted for exceptional performances in premieres of several contemporary works, including original urban jazz compositions with Opera Columbus. She has appeared in such oratorios as The Creation, Thereisenmesse, C Minor Mass, and The Messiah.
Operatic credits include principal roles in The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte, and The Magic Flute. In Atlanta, Georgia, Ms. Christian has performed in the world premieres of the operas Zabette at the Rialto Center for Performing Arts, Woman at the Well, and La Roche as part of the National Black Arts Festival. Abroad, she has appeared as Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore and Gretel from Hansel and Gretel in Rome, Italy. Ms. Christian has been the recipient of many awards and fellowships such as the Minna Kaufmann Rudd Award, Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Award, and the Albert C. Yates Fellowship. She currently teaches voice and choral music in Atlanta.
Courtney Suddreth has over 10 years of experience in the apparel industry with a special interest in apparel design, pattern making, and historic costume. She has served as a contract assistant costume designer, has extensive experience in the arts with an emphasis on drawing, and computer aided fine art/design. Courtney has combined her education and passion for the fine arts with apparel design to create textile products, as well as, various art pieces. She holds a Master of Science Degree (M.S.) in Consumer Apparel and Retail Studies, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Art Design, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Textile Product Design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Some of Courtney's accolades include artistic works being featured in the Witherspoon Art Gallery and the McIver Gallery in North Carolina. Courtney currently serves as the historical costume advisor and character dress consultant for Diversitá Opera Arts Company's mainstage productions.
Yvonne Booker has served in executive leadership positions for more than twenty-five years. As a leader, driven by excellence, she is committed to ensuring that outcomes are reached and desired goals are attained. Having served as a community advocate in both a volunteer and professional capacity, she is committed to her community and a strong volunteer.
Yvonne served as Chair of Collin County United Way Board of Directors, member of the United Way of Metro-Dallas Board of Directors, and served two terms as Housing Commissioner for the City of McKinney. She has served as member of many grant allocations committees for United Way of both Collin and Dallas counties, and the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) committee for the city of McKinney. She has chaired the Destination Graduation committee charged with allocating monies and developing strategies to support student’s high school success, and is currently serving as a member of TX CAN-North Texas, a collaboration community leaders addressing high school success and college entrance.
Yvonne holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology and Psychology.
Carol Bailey is a native of Georgia. She's a graduate of Troy State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services, a Minor in Sociology and Psychology, and a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Trident University. She has taught at Head Start and kindergarten through 5th grade for a combine grade levels of 24 years. Carol has also studied theater and has performed in several stage productions. She now teaches middle school Social Studies in the Dallas Texas area and runs the drama department at ECI Academy in Rowlett. Carol serves as Diversitá Opera Arts Company's Treasurer and is an Education Consultant for our school shows in the Dallas/Fort Worth (Texas) area.
Diversita Opera Arts Company is an official 501(c)(3) non profit organization providing music scholarships to deserving students in the area along with performance opportunities. We promote music education and enjoyment to populations that cater to special needs, foster care, and senior living. We also provide a diverse cast of performers through opera/classical music on stage along with artistic shows throughout the United States.Our directors and board members are dedicated musicians, educators, and community volunteers who support the endeavors of positive change.
Eldred Marshall began studying the piano at age six and played in public by age seven. His prodigious and inquisitive mind allowed him to master large swaths of the piano repertoire quickly as well as consistently win top prizes at the competitions he entered as a child. By 16, he debuted with orchestra, playing Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto with the Victor Valley Symphony Orchestra. Before entering into Yale University, where he graduated with honors with a B.A. in Political Science, he had already performed all over the United States.
The critically-acclaimed pianist has performed internationally: Spain, Italy, the Republic of San Marino, Belgium, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, the Ukraine and the People’s Republic of China. He has performed the entire cycle of 32 Piano Sonatas of Beethoven in public, from memory, as a concentrated series, twice: once in Portland in 2007 and in San Francisco in 2008. He followed that project with a full West Coast (US) tour of Bach’s Goldberg Variations in 2008 and 2009. In the 2015-2016 Season, he toured extensively through Texas with two all-Bach piano recital programs, one of which included the Goldberg Variations. In 2018, he toured the United States and China, performing Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, from memory. He has appeared in piano festivals in Italy as well as the United States. Orchestrally, conductors with whom he has collaborated orchestrally include K. C. Manji, Carlo Ponti, Beau Benson, Greg Grabowski, Kevin Torrefiel, Michelle Merrill, Jonathan Moore, Jessica Morel and David Wiley.
As an orchestral conductor, Marshall has led several international ensembles: the Ukrainian State Academic Orchestra (Kiev, Ukraine), the Kharkov Youth Symphony (Kharkov, Ukraine), the Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra (Pleven, Bulgaria), the Vidin Philharmonic Orchestra (Vidin, Bulgaria), the Filharmonica Oltenia di Craiova (Craiova, Romania), and the Constanta “Black Sea” Philharmonic Orchestra (Constanta, Romania). In the United States, he has worked as the conductor for the Riverside (CA) Opera Institute’s Children’s Opera Division, and has served as assistant conductor of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the Opera dell’arte Ensemble (NYC). Further, he has collaborated with the University of North Texas (UNT) Symphony Orchestra.
Marshall earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance degree from UNT in 2018. Additionally, he earned three Master of Music degrees from SMU: piano (2011), organ (2012) and orchestral conducting (2013). Institutions at which he has taught include the UNT, SMU, and North Texas Central College. His doctoral dissertation topic was on the art of conducting piano concerti from the piano – performance practice, discipline and whether or not it is “real conducting.”
Presently, Marshall serves as the Artist-in-Residence/Associate Director of Music at the First United Methodist Church of Garland and is the music director of the community orchestra Next-Gen Chamber Ensemble.
Walteria Caldwell (formally Walteria Bethea) is a professionally trained mezzo-soprano and music educator who tours around the country and abroad. In college, Walteria played professional piano gigs, sang roles in opera scenes, and performed as a lead soloist in the US premiere of "Changed My Name", as well as being one of the soloists for her alma mater's Chancellor's Installation Service. After receiving a Bachelor of Music Performance degree at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (one of the leading music universities in the US), Walteria became a music educator and continued as a church pianist while harvesting a performance career. With successful teaching experience for over 15 years, some of her voice and piano students have branched off into their own careers performing professionally from Las Vegas to New York, winning auditions, roles, and talent competitions in the US with other accolades in under her instruction. Walteria later received music graduate studies from Mercer University and received extensive knowledge on how the "first" instrument works in the body which involves vocal pedagogy. Exposure to different piano techniques from church to popular music has also served Walteria well in training students and executing performances.
Performing in the United States and in Europe (France and Italy) as a classical singer, Walteria has traveled as a frequent concert soloist with various choirs/orchestras for oratorio works such as Bach's Mass in D Minor, Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, Bach's Christmas Oratorio Weihnachts-Oratorium, Théodore Dubois' Seven Last Words of Christ, Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, and John Rutter's Feel The Spirit. In the field of opera, Walteria has been in several productions as the Mother in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors as well as Hansel and the Gingerbread Witch from Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel. She has performed both of the roles of Carmen and Mercedes from Bizet's Carmen. From Verdi's repertoire, Walteria has sung Azucena from Il trovatore (The Troubadour), Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera (The Masked Ball), and Meg Page from Falstaff. As a Rossini bel canto singer, Walteria has performed in opera scenes as Rosina from Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and Hedwige from Guilaume Tell (William Tell). From Mozart's operas, she has been featured as Cherubino in Le Nozze di FIgaro (The Marriage of Figaro), in scenes as Zerlina from Don Giovanni, and in staged viewings as both 3rd Lady and 3rd Spirit in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). Other roles include scenes as Prince Orlofsky from Strauss' Die Fledermaus, Augusta from The Ballad of Baby Doe, and Dido from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.
In concert, Walteria has performed numbers from Handel's Rinaldo, Gerswhin's Porgy and Bess, as Marian Anderson for education promotion in history, and Voices Before Mine (tribute to African American women in classical music). She debuted the role of Sylvia in the opera Wading Home (libretto by Rosalyn Story, composed by Mary Alice Rich) which is based off of the successful novel bearing the same title. As the head of the non-profit Diversita Opera Arts Company, Walteria assists in providing music scholarships to students and promotes diversity through concerts and opera throughout the southern region of the United States. She also sings other genres such as jazz and musical theatre and is a member of the music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon.
Billy Booker holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science and Psychology from Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, graduating Summa Cum Laude and holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Counseling from NC A&T State University. Upon receiving his Master’s Degree from NC A&T, Billy taught Psychology at Shaw University and served as Vice President of the Board of Advisors at Shaw University. Beyond his Master’s Degree, Mr. Booker has studied schizophrenia and depression at Columbia University Medical School in New York, Violence and the Brain at Wake Forest University, and holds a Certification in Anger Management from the Leonard Ingram Institute in Chicago. Some of his accomplishments include:
Selected by the National Urban League to serve as Visiting Professor at Jackson State University School of Business.
Completed Crisis Management Training in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Served as Secretary of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (NC/TX)
Served on YMCA Student Achievers Advisory Committee.
Served on Mayor’s Violence Prevention Task Force (Winston-Salem, NC).