Our Regular Musical Guests
Here are the bios on those special guest artists that are “regulars” at Unity of Bellevue … at our Sunday services and in concert.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Laura Berman originally hails from the NYC music scene and has reached acclaim for her soul-touching vocal power and accessible yet poetic songwriting style. Laura is called toward an inward journey, connecting with others through her music and voice and makes her life work about healing, expression and expansiveness. With four CD's to date, she has performed alongside best-selling authors Neale Donald Walsch, Marianne Williamson, and at the renowned Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles. She has also performed in the inspirational duo 4 STORIES HIGH with her husband, songwriter/producer Craig Benelli, and together they released the CD, DETOUR which continues to transform and inspire listeners. While in NYC, Laura was a session singer as well as a touring singer/songwriter, she sang back up for Grammy Award Winner, Enya on the David Letterman show, and was a featured vocalist in the children's feature film release, “Clifford's Really Big Movie” and accompanying Soundtrack. Laura's latest CD release, EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN speaks to the many dimensions of a life journey and is available via iTunes and CD Baby.www.LauraBermanMusic.com
Bruce is a professional woodwinds musician with 30 years’ performance credits throughout the West Coast and around the world. His career’s first decade was with The Celebrant Singers, touring 38 countries. Since then, he has split his time between classical performance (Fresno and Everett Philharmonic Orchestras, Operas, and the Symphony Orchestras of Tulare County [California], the Cascades [Edmonds], Federal Way, and Tacoma), teaching (adjunct faculty at College of the Sequoias and Northwest University, plus private lessons for over 30 years in California, Texas, and Washington), and musical theatre (West Coast off-Broadway tours, including Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in Fresno, Legally Blond in Sacramento, Dream Girls in Portland, Annie, Sweet Charity, Chorus Line, and numerous other 5th Avenue-, Paramount-, and Village Theatre-productions in the Seattle area. He has backed such stars as the Temptations, Bernadette Peters, John Lithgow, and Molly Ringwald.)
Originally born, raised and educated in Seattle, Christine now lives and works as an actor, singer, writer, director, and voiceover artist in Los Angeles. She has worked extensively in theatre, film, and television in L.A. and abroad. Some favorite roles include: performance artist Elsa Lasker-Schuler in Nosferatu, hot latina mama in the film Trojan War, the over-sexed babysitter in the CBS sitcom, Yes, Dear, Tammy Wynette and Anita Bryant in Reagan's Women, white trash mother, Lacy, in the indie film Stalled, and 13 year old brat, Little Eva, in The Lively Lad. Christine is a nominee and recipient of Garland Ovation and L.A. Weekly awards for her work in theatre and as a member of Zoo District Theatre Company. She has written and performed several one-woman shows including Ah Families, Leave It To Deaver, and Bodacious, and toured them throughout North America, Europe and Asia. For the past 5 years, Christine has been starring regularly in productions of Teatro Zinzanni in both Seattle and San Francisco.
Bob is a writer, composer, actor and director. As a professional actor, Bob has been seen as Harold in The Full Monty, J.J. Astor in Titanic, The Baker in Into The Woods, himself in My Way, Felix in The Odd Couple, Richard in Hayfever, Buddy in Follies, Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Lenny in Rumors, Jesus in Godspell, Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, and the three roles in Plaza Suite as well various roles in Peter Pan, Damn Yankees, Stunt Girl, Aida, Guys and Dolls and The Notbook Of Trigorin. As a writer and/or composer/lyricist, Bob’s creations include Ya Got Trouble! An Affair with Robert Preston (in collaboration with Mark Sparks), My Fourth Divorce, the musical murder mystery Ashes To Ashes, his own musical adaptation of Robin Hood and four holiday revues: Déjà Vu Xmas, Wicked Xmas, Hanky-Panky Holidaze and A Mall & The Night Visitors. For the past twenty years, Bob has been the tenor/arranger for the a cappella vocal group, Kitchen Sync. His first one-man show, SINGIN’ AND SWINGIN’ WITH BOBBY D: The Bobby Darin Songbook has been performed in nightclubs, concert halls and theatres in cities across the Puget Sound area and is being booked throughout the Northwest. He also performs in TOGETHER AGAIN: Bobby Darin & Peggy Lee and in SINATRA, ALL THE WAY.
Primarily as a bassist and vocalist, Mike has been performing in bands around the Pacific Northwest since 1966. He graduated from Cornish College of The Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Jazz. Mike is a busy solo performer in his own right, appearing in numerous nightclubs and concert stages, and is a talented ukulele player and vocalist. Mike plays bass in the Unity Band at Unity of Bellevue.
SUSAN HAAS, Harpist
Visit her website for more information www.soloharp.com
René is a Ceremonial Sound Practitioner, professional musician, and Healing Performance Artist from Sonoma, CA. As a professional trombonist for over 30 years, René has backed many established artists in the industry such as Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis, the Temptations, Mary Wilson of the Supremes & Gregg Allman, to name a few. He is currently the trombonist for Dick Bright’s SRO, a 19 piece soul-rock band with a vast repertoire of music from Motown to hip-hop. After being introduced to the Australian Didjeridu in 1993, René began offering “sound attunements” integrating music, shamanic studies, and his desire to heal others. In January 2003, René founded VibeTherapy, a sound healing practice that employs the subtle energy principles of intention and sound for well-being. Currently, René conducts sound healing ceremonies and sacred sound blessings with ancient indigenous instruments sharing their historic metaphysical attributes with individuals and groups around the country.
STEPHANIE ANNE JOHNSON
Stephanie wowed the country and made a name for herself while appearing on the NBC show “The Voice.” Raised in Tacoma, her influences were Etta James, Cab Calloway, Bonnie Raitt and Aerosmith, which resulted in her unique blend of styles in this singer/songwriter. Her resume includes everything from acoustic performances at coffee shops to performing in Porgy and Bess with Seattle Opera. Stephanie performs often for South Sound Unity in Federal Way, when she is not off performing on cruise ships all over the world. “Music can save lives. Transport the mind, and give the body uncommon grace,” she says. “While the journey is important, it’s the people you get there with that make the time well spent.” Stephanie's Website
Lindsey is originally from Bellevue -- actually raised not far from Unity of Bellevue before becoming a theatrical sensation in Boston. She appeared in many shows on the East Coast before returning to the Northwest.
"With a cool, sweet, bell-like voice and a superb on-stage demeanor, Lindsey Larson charmed the audience and adroitly made Peggy Lee's music come alive again. True to the scope of Miss Lee's long and varied career, she zipped fluidly through a wide pantheon of musical styles, and I can't imagine anyone doing a better job of it!" -- Michael Dresdner, South Sound Arts Blog
Kim, a versatile Seattle-based vocalist, has performed all over the country in jazz clubs, musical theatre and opera. A graduate of the prestigious Circle-In-The-Square in NYC, she has shared the stage with Eric Idle, Robert Goulet, Frank Langella and Juliet Prowse. In recent years she and her septet, Kim Maguire and the Blue Fedoras, have performed in the major jazz clubs in the Seattle area.
Meg is a brilliant entertainer – she currently has two one-woman shows on tour: “FOOLING AROUND: The Patsy Cline Songbook” and “I COULD GO ON SINGING: The Judy Garland Songbook.” (Her Patsy Cline concert was performed at Unity of Bellevue on September 5, 2014.) Meg received a BroadwayWorld “Best Actress” nomination for her performance as Mrs. Walker in TOMMY two years ago, recently appeared in A NEW BRAIN for StageRight Productions in Seattle, and spent her last two summers on tour with Wooden O Theatre (part of Seattle Shakespeare Company) touring in AS YOU LIKE IT and JULIUS CEASAR. She has appeared in numerous musicals, plays and nightclub shows in New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Seattle.
As a New Thought recording Artist, Stefan has performed in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United Kingdom and all across the United States. He has “shared the bill” with Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and Barbara Marx Hubbard, among others. Stephan has released 6 CD's which continue to be popular in the New Thought market. www.stefanmitchell.com
NARAYAN & JANET
This songwriting duo writes original music that is a delicious blend of jazz, Motown, Beatles and world music. This is what they have to say about their music: “The intention and deeper purpose behind our music is to assist in lifting the energy on our planet and among our human friends and provide a love-filled soundtrack for the shift in consciousness that is taking place among us.” We welcome back these two Unity of Bellevue favorites whenever they are in the area, traveling here from their home base in Santa Rosa, CA.
Rafe is a musician who defies categorization yet stands firmly in his unique creative space and owns it. Over the years, Rafe has been involved with an eclectic array of interesting musical adventures, including features in film scores, performing on “America’s Got Talent,” with “The William Close Earth Harp Collective,” writing with renowned composer Tyler Bates, headlining music festivals, infiltrating Sony’s God of War video game and a host of recordings and bands. Rafe is a New Thought singer/songwriter who currently splits his time between Seattle and Los Angeles. He performs often as a solo artist or with “Dust & Gold,” with “The Chelsea Royal” and with “The William Close Earth Harp Collective,” as well as sharing his talents with numerous Unity churches and Centers for Spiritual Living.
Jazz guitarist Michael Powers is one of the most well-respected jazz musicians in the country having released five CD's that are played on radio stations nationwide. Michael has performed with, recorded with, or shared billings with such acclaimed musicians as Herbie Hancock, Nancy Wilson, Les McCann, the legendary Ray Charles, Grammy winner Diane Schuur, R&B greats Gladys Knight and the Pips, and a host of contemporary jazz artists, including David Benoit, Ronny Jordan, Tom Grant, and sax artist Ernie Wattts.
MARGARET THORNDILL, CELLIST
Margaret grew up in Tacoma, studying cello with Phyllis Allport in Seattle and playing in the early years of the Tacoma Youth Symphony. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Washington State University and completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in cello at California Institute of the Arts, where she worked with Joel Krosnick, cellist in the Juilliard String Quartet. Margaret's teachers have included Claus Adam, former cellist in the Juilliard String Quartet, Gabor Reijto, and Cordelia Wikarski-Miedel. She free-lanced in the Los Angeles area for four years having the opportunity to play with such performing artists as Barry White, Frank Sinatra, and Andraé Crouch. From 1980 to 1983 she was a member of Singapore Symphony Orchestra, performing not only in Singapore but Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Currently she is a member of Tacoma Symphony, South Sound String Trio, and Chambers Creek Piano Trio.
Makenna Wagner is a Seattle native who studied classical voice as a mezzo-soprano at the University of Washington. She crossed over to pop music after college and moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to pursue this vocal art at the world renowned Seth Riggs Voice Studio. In 2008, she was guided to Santa Barbara, where she discovered her calling as a music minister at Unity of Santa Barbara. Currently, Makenna enjoys producing her own intimate concerts, song leading, and collaborating with other talented musicians. Her first album, “Into the Light,” was released in 2013.