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 resume 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. For a period of 10 years Dwayne also assisted in the daily operations and create jingles for AdVox Design and Production Studio.
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 a Far West Side Baptist Church where Dwayne 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, as well as 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.
ALISA CLARIDY, Vocal Directions by Alisa Claridy . (Guest instructor . Vocal Artist . Musical Theater) Watch for special workshops by Claridy throughout the year
One of San Antonio’s premier vocalists, ALISA has been teaching for 20 years. Her TV features include “Showtime at the Apollo” , San Antonio’s own “Gimme The Mic”. Alisa is a two time Sammy Award Winner with the Peoples' Workshop for Visual & Performing Arts by Carolyn Beverly in San Antonio, and the San Antonio Idol Winner. She received a Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, in the 2004 production of “Music for the Soul” by Missy Miller.
She was in musical production performances “Do Not Pass Me By”, “ Have Some Faith”, and, “ Simply the Best” at the Josephine Theatre under the direction of Missy Miller.
She played the role of “Effie White” in the San Antonio production of “Dream Girls” at the San Pedro Playhouse under the direction of Frank Ladson. She was the voice of Audrey the Plant in “Little Shop of Horrors” at the woodlawn theatre under the direction of Jonathan Pennington. She was also in various musicals written by Sterling Houston such as “Allelia “, La Frantera , and Cameoland. She also was featured in various pre shows for Kathy Hornsby Entertainment. Alisa was lead and featured in several bands and groups through out San Antonio Texas such as Young Love, Smoke and Fire, The Fat Kats ,Frank Redarte, Legacy Michael Michael & The Max, Difference, The Glorious Power House Divas, Max Class & The Class Act. She sings with a group called “The Powerhouse Divas”.
She have been featured on various projects with artists/ Producers such as ”Jimmy Spacek and the fever” “Cayote Dreams”, Jai Roots, “Victor Adams Rastaman in the USA”, Clark Stevens, A little Bit Of Claridy with Danny Patino. Michael Wong, Cujo Mason, and Scott king.
Alisa has opened for numerous music artists who include Chaka Khan, Brian McKnight, Will Downing, and Gerald Albright just to name a few. She is the owner of both JussClaridy Productions and Vocal Directions. Alisa teaches several genres of music such as Blues, Country, Gospel, Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop and Rock. Her unique experience in competitive performance illustrates her ability to prepare her students for any vocal competition out there. Many of her students have found success in competitions that include American Idol, X Factor, and The Voice:
Deja Hall from “The Voice”
Jamiah Malik from “American Idol”
Reed Deming, XFactor
Ally Brooke, XFactor
Adam Sanders, American Idol
Rebecca Valdez, Star search , 2 time Grammy nominee, toured with Janet Jackson
Joel Sauceda, XFactor, Teen Nation tour
and many more...
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
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
Bio and Resume to come
Arriana Sparks . Violin
ARRI has been playing the violin for 8 years. She has competed in UIL with her high school orchestra, all four years and has served as first chair in school performances, second chair for Stevens High School renaissance performance, river walk winter performance, private school performances, as well as competed in Solo and Ensemble winning with a score of One.
Arri has a deep desire to share her love for violin with others.
Christian Toler . Vocals. Song Writer . Piano . Artist . Drama
CHRISTIAN is a vocalist, pianist and actor currently attending Northwest Vista College. Her 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 'classical' piano and voice until the age of ten and later continued her training of classical and contemporary piano 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 has expanded her talents into theatre. 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 ove $20,000 in scholarships and is currently studying at Northwest Vista College where she will receive her Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. Her future plans include continuing to explore her interests in acting and inspirational music while pursuing her communications/music marketing degree from UTSA.
2016 Grease; Ensemble Actor/Dancer/Singer
2015 Oedipus/Antigone; (Queen) (1 of 3 Fates)
2015 Sea World Entertainment
2005–2014 Various supporting roles in 9 local community dramas
Hair Model: Essence of Tresses, San Antonio TX
Tshirt model: Transformed Christian Tees, San Antonio TX
San Antonio Stars Basketball; National Anthem, 2017
San Antonio Arneson River Theatre Christmas Special 2013
San Antonio Mall of the Americas Christmas show2013
Blesst Gospel Group Member, 2011-2012
Lead Singer/Choir and praise team leader: True Vine Baptist Church, Voices of Praise, Current
2015-2017- Northwest Vista College Theatre Arts
2014 – San Antonio College Teen Summer Theatre
2013 – 2017 Private Voice Lessons
2013 – San Antonio College Teen Summer Theatre
2010 – Theatre Arts High School
2010 – Private Piano Lessons
2007 – 2010 Piano: Vivace Music Academy
2007 – 2009 Voice: Vivace Music Academy
Piano: Classical, Gospel, Inspirational
Vocals: Classical, Gospel, Inspirational
Fine Art (Award Winning) and Creative Writing
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.
Lauren Valdez . Dancer . Choreographer . Cheer Instructor
LAUREN was born in San Antonio, Texas and started dance at the age of 5. She has trained in various styles of dance such as; ballet, modern, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, jazz and is currently an officer of the John Paul Stevens Sky Dancers dance team. She was under the instruction and discipline of Encore dance for a year and later then moved onto train at Chrissy's dance academy for a total of 8 years. Lauren has been the recipient of a number of honors and awards including: Class President of 2018 2014-2016, American Lone Star Dance/Drill Team, Texas State Champions, Pep Squad; First Place, small ensemble category, Dance Team; Best in Class Dance team, ADTS. Lauren's perfroming Arts Resumé includes: Schlitterbahn photo shoot 2015; American Crime, Extra, Season 1, Episode 3 2015; HEB Back to School Commercial 2015; A’gaci in-store model 2016; Legally Blonde Jr. the musical…..Elle woods; Chamber music...Queen Isabella.
With the hopes of pursuing a career in singing, acting and dancing after she graduates, she strives to better herself and those around her in the field of performing arts.
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 an award winning working graphic artist and creative director Susan brings over 25 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.