Our team is made up of a diverse group of individuals remain actively involved in the arts and have extensive experience within the industry. Each is an independent instructor with his/her own curriculum and method of teaching. However, we all have the same agenda – helping our students meet their desired goals and their full potential while building skill and confidence. If you have any questions regarding instructor qualifications, please feel free to contact us by phone or email.
Dwayne Toler, Music Director: Vocals . Writer
DWAYNE has been musician/vocalist for more than 35 years. He brings with him a rich resumé of experience in the music industry and a long list of local music connections. He is a self-taught pianist, keyboardist, guitar player and songwriter, gifted with the ability to play by ear. During his early years as a musician he co-founded and co-managed the groups “Friends” and “Master Jam” and performed on stage before large audiences as opening acts for a myriad of national artists such as Millie Jackson, James Brown, and Sybil. Dwayne has an intimate knowledge of what it takes to make it as a performing artist.
Dwayne retired as a San Antonio Fire Department EMS Lieutenant after 33 years of service. Along with his long time profession in civil service, he dedicated himself to the position of minister of music for Rising Star Baptist Church in San Antonio for nine years. He later moved his membership to True Vine Baptist Church where he held the position of Minister of Music for a 2,000 plus member congregation, and served proficiently in the position for over fourteen years. As Minister of Music he managed ministry operations as well as training and direction of the teen, youth and adult choirs, the teen and adult praise teams and the youth and adult music ministries. Dwayne brought the contemporary to the traditional and led the choir to a brand status among San Antonio’s most recognized gospel choirs.
Heather Hatchett . Vocal Artist . Piano
HEATHER has been singing since she was a child and she was actively involved in vocal and choral competitions throughout high school and college. Heather’s love and passion for Worship is contagious; she takes genuine joy in teaching others how to utilize their gifts and talents!! Her creative and interactive approach for teaching music, vocals and performing arts encourages even the most hesitant at heart that they can achieve their musical goals!
She began teaching music, performing arts and drama to children and teens in the Late 90’s in her local church in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She later took on the duties as the Worship Leader on Sunday and Wednesday nights in addition to her duties with the children and youth. She led, directed and produced Easter Plays, Christmas Programs, State Youth Drama Teams, Children and Youth Choir Teams and coached Solo and Small Ensemble Groups in 4 churches over the course of a 15 year time period. During this time many of these groups won 1st and 2nd place in the competitions in both Texas and Oklahoma.
Heather has been a featured Soloist, Motivational Speaker and Worship Leader in Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Arkansas. She has Classical Vocal Training as well as Contemporary and Gospel Worship experience. She has had the pleasure to be involved in Gospel Choirs in Muskogee, Oklahoma and San Antonio, Texas and is currently a member of True Vine Baptist Church Saints of Praise Choir and Praise Team. Most recently she has been a featured performer here in San Antonio, Texas for several events: 2015 Ministry and Performing Arts Conference (MPAC), This Is It Conference, National Anthem Singer for Labor Day, Founders Day and Veterans Day at the VA Fisher House
Rene Ford . Saxophone . Composer . Ensemble Coordinator
RENE's work as a Composer and Performance Artist seeks the common truth that dwells in each of us through collaborative improvisation.
As Collaborating Artist: Holy Ghost Dance, 1995 Walker Arts Gallery 8; Punic Wars, 1995 Walker Arts Center Auditorium; Monday Morning Body Count, 1996 Hennepin Center for the Arts; Porch Swing, 1997 Southern Theater; Theology, 1998 Southern Theater; Father, Sons and Brothers, 1999 African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, Miami FL; An Isolated Incident, 1999 Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC; An Isolated Incident, 1999 Lorraine Hansberry Theater, San Francisco CA; Memory Dances, 2000, Southern Theater; O Black and Unknown Bards, 2000, Buetow Music Auditorium; Stigmatism, 2001, Intermedia Arts; 2704, 2004 Capri Theater, Mpls. MN; Cactus in the Desert, 2005 Pillsbury Theater, Mpls. MN; Pork Chop Wars, 2006 Oscar Brockett Theatre, Austin Texas; Draptomania, 2007
As Producer: Reunion 2001 Artist Quarter; The American Dream, 2002 Intermedia Arts
As a Composer: Unsentimental Released by the American Composers Forum on the Innova Label 2004
Shadoe Lamon Garth . Piano (AVAILABLE FOR WORKSHOPS)
LAMON is a contemporary musician, composer, educator and entrepreneur who loves to re-imagine music. Skilled in playing piano, organ, trombone and the drums, music flows up from his musically gifted heritage. His father, Tracy Marlow is a music engineer and CEO/Founder of TM Productions in Los Angeles. His mother, Hazel Garth is a musically gifted performer and composer, along with his grandmother Ruby Garth who has sang with gospel greats such as Mattie Moss Clark who is credited with creating the three-part harmony technique prevalent among gospel choirs today. Lamon has been mentored and influenced by a number of family artists such as his cousin, recording artist and blues guitarist Larry McCray, as well as neighborhood artists Will Hillman, Dan Burns, and Marlin Wilkins just to name a few.
At the age of 6, Lamon was drawn to the world of music by the beat of the drum. He made his own drum set using household items such as pencils and a lampshade and practiced daily at his new found craft. By the time he had the opportunity to sit behind his first real set of drums, Lamon was 11 years old and already a skilled musician. He taught himself to read percussion music after his middle school teacher, having heard him drumming, gave him a book on theory. He studied the book and went back to school the following fall reading and playing the drums with proficiency. He went on to receive many awards one being the Lewis Armstrong Award, the first ever awarded at Arthur Hill High School of Saginaw, MI.
With a focus on theory, Lamon has researched and trained wherever he could. He has played with and has been mentored by a number of popular musicians such as Dr. Michael Woods of Hamilton College Clinton, NY. As a youth he played with the NAACP’s Act-So Jazz Band for 2 years, which afforded him the opportunity to open for the Clark Sisters and to accompany BET Gospel Singer winner Jessica Reedy before her rise to stardom. Other performance venues include: The Annual African Cultural Festival in Saginaw Michigan, he’s played for greats like Blues/Jazz Artist Sharie Williams; Alumni Dinners Arthur Hill High School; Minister of Music Sanctuary of Praise, Michigan 2 years; Numerous Churches.
When not teaching at BlackBox, Lamon runs his own residential and commercial construction firm and serves as a musician with True Vine Baptist Church San Antonio.
“I cannot call myself a true musician if I don’t listen to every thing.”– Shadoe Lamon Garth
Nick Vaquera . Violin . Viola . Voice and Composition
NICK is a pupil of retired principle second violinist of the San Francisco Symphony, current Concertmaster of Symphony of the Hills Dr. Daniel Kobialka (Associate Professor of Violin University of the Incarnate Word, founding member of Midsummer Mozart Festival San Francisco Bay Area and Texas Mozart Festival).
As a composer he's placed in the national Jack Stone Call For Scores Competition.
His composition teachers include Dr. Beth May (Yale School of Music and University of Texas Austin, Associate Professor of Composition Centralia College former head of Composition Northwest Vista College) and Dr. Hermes Camacho (Universiry of Texas Austin, Associate Professor of Composition University of the Incarnate Word)
His vocal teachers include Professor Timothy Birt (Indiana University and San Antonio Three Tenors, Associate Professor of Voice San Antonio College) and Professor Karen McCarty (Arizona State University, Associate Professor of Voice Northwest Vista College and founding member of the Livermore Opera Company).
In violin pedagogy he employs methods of Auer, Galamian and Suzuki. Some of his former pupils have placed in UIL Regional and All-State orchestras and have scored highly in UIL Regional and State solo and ensemble as well. Other notable pupils have done exceptional at the local level and taken home first place in the state wide annual National Federation of Music Teachers (NFMC) competition violin category.
Nick's secondary instrument is voice having performed with the South Texas Lyric Opera as a lyric tenor.
He specializes in the vernacular; Spanish both Latin and Castilian dialects, French, German, Italian and Latin.
Notable vocal pupils include first chair Soprano one woman's choir at UIL Region and those that have competed in the annual NFMC competition in the vocal categories of classical and musical theater have also done exceptionally well.
His philosophy as a teacher is the same as his philosophy as a musician and that is to experience the music to its fullest. He places strong emphasis on music theory, history, understanding the instrument and the art of performing. His specialty is solo and chamber music.
William "Wayne" Gray . Guitar . Bass
WAYNE grew up in Delaware, in the small town of Frederica, where he received his first guitar at the age of 14. During his youth he played bass drum in the marching band in high school. During his 40 pus years as a musician, Wayne has played guitar for Hubert AME Church in Frederica Delaware as well as a number of bands of varying genre in position of bass guitar, lead guitar and percussionist on congo drums. Additionally, Wayne went on to study music and education at Delaware State University.
Wayne is a retired veteran of the US Army. He served in Vietnam in 1969, where he toured with the USO special service band as a guitarist. He has had the privilege or being mentored and tutored by renowned musicians such as his cousin, blues musician "Guitar Frank" Hovington, lead guitar of the Ambassdors, Tommy Coursey and lead guitar of the Gospel group The Cavaliers, Melvin Hitchens.
Wayne now dedicates his time and talents to teaching music to aspiring guitarists, and playing for churches and other non profit groups such as, nursing homes and churches.
Christian Toler . Vocals. Song Writer . Piano . Visual Artist . Actor
CHRISTIAN, a vocalist, pianist and actor, is a recent graduate of Northwest Vista College where she received her Liberal Arts degree, and is currently enrolled at UTSA where she is pursuing her bachelors degree in Communications.
Christian's performance career began at the age of five when she began singing in the church choir and studied at the Vivace Music Academy of San Antonio where she trained in 'classical' piano and voice until the age of ten. She has continued her training of classical and contemporary piano and voice through private instruction. During her time at Vivace, Christian received a number of awards including outstanding vocal award. Christian has also studied vocals under the direction of vocal coaches: Dwayne Toler and Anthony Modeste of BlackBox Music & Arts; Alisa Claridy and Sonya Folrie— formerly of Best of Both Worlds Vocal Studio.
Christian was a member of the youth gospel group Blesst from 2011- 2102. She landed a principal role in her high school’s drama production of The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon and played supporting roles in the San Antonio College Theatre Arts 2013 and 2104 Summer Camps as well as church dramas.
Christian received a number of academic scholarships including San Antonio Livestock Exposition, Inc. – 4 Yr (Science) Scholarship; J.T. Maxey Scholarship; Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas and Jurisdictions Scholarship; and San Antonio Black Police Officers’ Coalition Scholarship.
Her future plans include continuing to explore her interests in acting and inspirational music while pursuing her communications degree.
Belinda Huber . Piano . Voice . Flute
BELINDA began her musical life with private piano lessons at 6 years old and continued until 12th grade.
Played the Greig Concerto with the high school band senior year in Folsom, Pennsylvania. After graduation, she played four years in the Marine Corps Band, flute and piccolo. Obtained Bachelors in Music Education, certified to teach public school grades PK-12, flute major and piano minor. Taught elementary and middle school choir and general music in Texas City, Friendswood, Natalia and Southwest ISD retiring November 30, 2016. Music director at Devine Savior Lutheran and assistant choir director/accompanist Friendswood United Methodist Church. Professional musician for weddings and funerals.
Private piano, flute and voice teacher 30+years in studios, student’s home and home studio. Belinda teaches all aspects of music including theory, scales, reading music notation, chords, various styles and ear training. Vocal students learn sight-reading and proper techniques so as not to damage their voice. She is very patient with all her students and passionate about giving students the best she can give.
Actor • Singer • Citizen Artist
KAT MCKENNA is a San Antonio native with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Performance has been her calling since the age of five when she began to act on stage. She has a background in theatre education and a formal training in acting, singing, improvisation, movement, voice technique, devised theatre, stage combat, writing, directing, and script analysis. Recently, she started to dip her toes in the visual art world with an intensive study of acrylic pouring. Whether it’s putting on a show or applying paint to canvas, Kat is a “firm believer in the power of creativity, self-awareness, and confidence.”
-BFA Musical Theatre from Auburn University — Class of 2016
-13 years of youth theatre performance (age 5-18)
Assassins: Sara Jane Moore / director Dr. Chase Bringardner
Playhouse Creatures: Mary Betterton / udirector Daydrie Hague
The Integration of Tuskegee High School: Helen Brown / director Dr. Tessa Carr
Vinegar: Tom Joan Noakes / director Dr. Chase Bringardner
Once Upon a Mattress: Lady Merril / director Dr. Phillip Scott
Mosaic Theatre Company: Various/Cast Member / director Dr. Tessa Carr
Frankenstein: asst. director / director Dr. Chase Bringardner
Puzzle Fest. 2015: intern / director Brian Hampton
3 years Acting Studio: Daydrie Hague, Tom Aulino, Dan LaRocque, and Chris Qualls
10 years Voice: Sean Michael Flowers, Dr. Elizabeth Benson, Leo Garcia
3 years Dance: Jeri Dickey (ballet, jazz, tap,musical theatre)
2 years Devised Theatre: Dr. Tessa Carr (writing, directing, performance, collaboration)
Breanna Patrick . Dancer . Choreographer
Dancing since the age of 5, BREE is no stranger to the life of a performer. At a young age, Bree has cheered and dance on a competitive level earning many titles to her name. Throughout her high school years, Bree cheered at John Jay high School, earning the title Captain of the varsity team in the years 2011-2012. After high school, Bree hung up her cheer shoes and pursued dancing full time, becoming a face dancer at SeaWorld San Antonio in 2012 and choreographing dances for special events, including competitions and private parties. She aspires to pursue dancing as a lifelong career performing in her younger years and choreographing a little later in life.
BREE is currently pursuing a degree in modern Dance. Her styles include Jazz, Hip-hop, Modern, Ballet, and Contemporary. With 16 years of experience, Bree feels with dance, the moves aren’t as important as teaching confidence and creativity. Her styles include Jazz, Hip-hop, Modern, Ballet, and Contemporary. With 16 years of experience, Bree feels with dance, the moves aren’t as important as teaching confidence and creativity.
Susan A. Toler . Fine Artist . Graphic Artist . Communications Director . www.susantoler.com
SUSAN is a fine artist and an award winning (working) graphic artist and creative director. Susan brings over 30 years of experience to the table. She began her career early having completed training in Commercial Art at San Antonio’s Texas Vocational School at the age of 19. She migrated to the Art Institute of Houston where she earned her associates degree and went on to earn her bachelors degree from the University of Arlington where she focused her studies in the major areas of communications and business. Susan has hands on experience across a variety of industries and has worked as a publications production manager, a creative director and communications consultant in numerous collaborations and solo projects.
Susan’s work has appeared locally in the form of company websites, brands, book covers, brochures and other collateral materials as well as in national print publications such as Cooks Magazine, Essence Magazine, Ebony Magazine and Vibe Magazine. Susan’s AWARDS AND ACCOLADES include: APEX Award 1999 for Sensitivity in Advertising & Marketing in domestic destination print advertising; PRIMA Award1999 for Excellence in Marketing by the American Society of Association Executives; PRAME Award in 1999; PRAME Award in 1998; Silver ADDY Award in 1997; 40 Under 40 Award in1997 awarded by the San Antonio Business Journal; Voices Along the River San Antonio Poetry Fair 2002 Anthology Honorable Mention.
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