Artists

Paris Alexander

Paris Alexander

Paris Alexander spent ten years as a research specialist at the Duke University Cancer center. In 1993, he decided to pursue his avocation full time, the study and creation of sculpture. His work has been exhibited widely in galleries, universities and museums. His work is included in the collections of Wake Med, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, Saks Fifth Avenue, the R.C. Kessler Collection, SAS Institute, former president Bill Clinton, Senator Bob Dole, and many others. 

Paris is also a well-known instructor in sculpture, drawing, and anatomy. Besides teaching privately, he has been an instructor for several NC Arts councils, The Lucy Daniels Center, the Artspace Arts and Outreach Programs, and the NC Museum of Art Outreach Program.

Debra Austin

Debra Austin

Debra Austin received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet when she was 12. At 16, she was handpicked by George Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet. There, Debra danced many principal roles by both Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, one of which was filmed for a PBS television special, Live From Lincoln Center. She later joined the Zurich Ballet in Switzerland where she danced principal roles in works by all major choreographers and toured with the company throughout Europe. After returning to the United States, she was invited to join Pennsylvania Ballet as a principal dancer where she danced roles in Swan Lake, Coppelia, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Giselle and La Sylphide. She went on to assist in Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s ballet The Dancing Princesses, and in Florida was a preliminary judge for the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. Debra currently serves as Ballet Master for the Carolina Ballet.

Bloomsbury Band

Bloomsbury Band

Bloomsbury, Raleigh’s oldest string band—and one with a strong "legal flavor", formed as a group in 1969 after the founding members met at Pullen Baptist Church. Bloomsbury's travels have taken them as far away as New York City's famous Tavern on the Green, West Virginia's Greenbriar Hotel and for two tours to Newcastle, England. More recently, Bloomsbury has appeared twice at First Night Raleigh and was the featured band at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Bar Association. The surviving original band members are prominent attorneys Wade Hargrove (guitar and bluegrass banjo) and Wade Smith (guitar, claw-hammer banjo and fiddle), with pastor Mel Williams. Bloomsbury added the guitar and harmony singing of businessman John Crumpler in 1985, who subsequently added clawhammer banjo to his instrumental skills.  A few years ago, Wade recruited another local attorney, Ron Raxter, to play the bass. They have Wake Forest, UNC, Yale, Harvard, Albemarle, Burlington, Clinton, and Henderson, NC, connections, so these are some well-educated home boys!

Bob Chapman

Bob Chapman

Since December of 2008 Bob Chapman has hosted the WCPE Opera House, heard each Thursday 7:00-10:00 p.m. on 89.7 FM in central North Carolina, online worldwide at www.theclassicalstation.org. An operatic bass-baritone, Bob has sung leading and supporting roles with opera companies in the U.S., Germany, and Italy. Locally he has performed with North Carolina Opera, Triangle Opera Studios, Capitol Opera Raleigh, and Meredith College Opera. Before moving to Raleigh in 2004 from Connecticut, Bob was classical music librarian at the Hartford Public Library. He teaches opera courses for the OLLI programs at Duke and North Carolina State universities. Bob and his wife, Mary Lovelock, share a circa 1888 Victorian bungalow in Raleigh's Historic Oakwood neighborhood with Miss Molly, their lovable Labrador retriever.

Georges Le Chavalier

Georges Le Chavalier

Acclaimed artist Georges Le Chevallier was born in Paris and grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, followed by Los Angeles. He studied painting at the prestigious “Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando” in Madrid, received a BFA degree from Cal State Long Beach and a MFA from Hunter College in New York City.  Since his first major solo exhibition 25 years ago, his paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in distinguished spaces such as: The Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, Green Hill in Greensboro, Central Gallery in Budapest, Museo del Barrio and Taller Boricua in New York City, Museo de las Americas and Ateneo Puertorriqueno in San Juan, Yamanashi Museum in Japan, and Centro Cultural Lavapies in Madrid.  Le Chevallier has also created public art installations in the US, Mexico, Hungary, Tanzania, France, Guatemala, and Chile. Fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, and English, George has over 15 years of teaching experience as a university professor and is the host of the bilingual television show. He makes his home in Raleigh.

Jason Craighead

Jason Craighead

Jason Craighead’s paintings are a dynamic and expressive combination of acrylic paint, oil pastel, and graphite markings on canvas. A resident of downtown Raleigh for 20 years, Jason has been a significant member of the arts community and advocate for the arts at large, serving seven years on the City of Raleigh Arts Commission. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the Southeastern United States and is included in many private and public collections.  In recent years, Jason has had two solo shows with Cheryl Hazan Gallery in NYC and is preparing for his first major solo museum exhibition, opening at CAM, Raleigh in July 2018. He is co-founder of Switchhouse, a working studio space and gallery in Raleigh.

Mimi Herman

Mimi Herman

2017 Piedmont Laureate and poet Mimi Herman is also a writer, editor, teaching artist and consultant. She holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. She has worked as an arts and education consultant for over 20 years, engaging over 25,000 students and teachers with writing residencies, as well as designing and providing professional development for teaching artists, teachers and administrators. The author of Logophilia and The Art of Learning, Mimi has also been published in Crab Orchard Review, Shenandoah, The Hollins Critic and many other journals. She lives in Durham.

Kyle Highsmith

Kyle Highsmith

Kyle Highsmith is a prolific painter who generates an average of 150 oil paintings a year. He begins each piece on location and finishes it in his studio. Kyle regularly travels to Europe and the Caribbean in search of subject matter for his paintings. Kyle was born in Greenville, NC, and received a B.S. degree from N.C. State University’s School of Design. He has been painting full time since the late 1980s. His vivid color palette and recognizable style result in bold energetic canvases that express a joie de vivre. Kyle’s work is represented by numerous commercial galleries and is included in many private, public and corporate collections, including the North Carolina Museum of Art, GlaxoSmithKline, Duke Hospital, and Northwestern Mutual.

Lauren Kennedy

Lauren Kennedy

Actress and director and Broughton High School graduate Lauren Kennedy has appeared in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway productions.  Currently, she is the Producing Artistic Director of Theatre Raleigh where she has directed such shows as Drift, Vanities, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Wolf. Lauren appeared on Broadway in Spamalot (Lady of the Lake), Les Miserables (Fantine), Sideshow, and Sunset Blvd.  Her recordings include Vanities, South Pacific (Original London Cast), Sunset Blvd, Good News (with The London Symphony), and The Paul Simon Album (Varese Sarabande). Lauren’s solo recordings are available on the PS Classics.   

Joyce Watkins King

Joyce Watkins King

Born in the South and a descendant of Eli Whitney, Joyce Watkins King fell in love with textiles at an early age, learning to sew from her mother and grandmother. An Oxford, NC, native, she received a full scholarship to the College of Design at NC State University where she majored in product design, visual design and textiles. Joyce also has an MS in management and textiles from NC State. Joyce’s work has been shown in galleries and museums locally, regionally, and nationally and is included in many private, corporate, and institutional collections. In 2014, she had a solo exhibition as part of the international, biennial World of Threads Festival in Toronto, Canada. Joyce is a fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Hambidge Center in Georgia, and the Vermont Studio Center.

Paul Loesel

Paul Loesel

Paul Loesel is a Broadway pianist and composer who has been playing in the orchestra of Wicked since it opened 14 years ago. Other Broadway credits include Mamma Mia, Cabaret, The Music Man, Seussical, JC Superstar, Ragtime, and The Lion King. As a composer, his songs, along with lyricist Scott Burkell, have been performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Birdland, and recorded on their album of theatre songs, Sorta Loves Songs (Sh-K-Boom Records.) Their musical, The Extraordinary Ordinary, played NYC and Kalamazoo (MI,) and LMNOP, their musical based on the popular novel by Mark Dunn, had productions at Goodspeed Musicals (CT,) Theatre Under the Stars (Houston, TX,) the University of Michigan and Louisiana State University. 

Emile Pandolfi

Emile Pandolfi

With almost 30 recordings in his own discography, Emile Pandolfi ranks among America’s most popular piano artists. While the majority of his repertoire being lush, intricate arrangements of Broadway and standards that form the canon of "The Great American Songbook," his influences are, in fact, more classical than pop. A New York native who grew up in South Carolina, Emile has performed in many parts of the world. Recording since 1991, the pianist‘s CDs of familiar music have sold well over three million copies nationally. This has earned Emile the distinction of being the top-selling artist in the alternative music industry, distributed primarily in specialty, gift and book shops across the nation.  Now most major online retailers also carry his music for download; he can be streamed from internet radio stations all over the world. Emile’s sister Pam lives in Cary, NC, and is founder and Director of the Cary School of Music.

Dwane Powell

Dwane Powell

Dwane Powell has inked over 15,000 cartoons during his four-decade-long career that have caricatured presidents, politicians, and North Carolina notables. He began cartooning for the News & Observer newspaper in 1975, where he remained until his official retirement in 2009. He continues to provide images for their Sunday edition. His provocative drawings never fail to tickle funny bones or raise hackles and are always successful in inspiring audiences to engage in current events conversations.  Growing up in rural Arkansas, he studied agri-business at the University of Arkansas-Monticello but loved doodling and was drawn to cartoons he saw in Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post and MAD Magazine. His hometown paper offered him $5 a cartoon, launching his life-long passion. Powell went on to win industry recognition including the Overseas Press Club Award for Excellence in Cartooning and the National Headliners Club Award for Outstanding Editorial Cartoons. He has published three collections of his cartoons.

Yolanda Rabun

Yolanda Rabun

Yolanda Rabun is an award-winning NC corporate lawyer and professional actor, a successful music entrepreneur, sought after motivational speaker, and acclaimed recording-performing artist with 3 chart topping albums— So Real, Christmastime and YOLANDA.

This NC based Jazz and Soul chanteuse has headlined International festivals, including NC's Artsplosure and opened for and sung with such iconic artists as Jennifer Holiday at the Carolina Theatre, Howard Hewitt, Ron Isley and the Isley Brothers, R&B singer KEM at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) and the world-renowned iconic drummer, Sheila E at the Red Hat Amphitheater.  Yolanda has also performed with the NC Opera, the Durham Symphony, and the Raleigh Symphony Free Spirits; she appeared on a number of TV and radio programs and commercials and achieved notoriety on North Carolina regional theatre stages, most recently Smokey Joe's Cafe and Mary Poppins at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.  Yolanda is an official voting member for the Grammys and a publisher with ASCAP and BMI.

In Research Triangle Park, Yolanda serves as a senior Counsel for IBM Corporation's Cross Brand Legal team. Yolanda  was awarded the Triangle Business Journal's Top 40 under 40 Leadership Award and TBJ's Women in Business Award. Yolanda also has served as President of Raleigh Little Theatre's Board of Directors and also on the Board of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce.

Chuck Ragsdale

Chuck Ragsdale

A Fuquay-Varina native and New York transplant, actor Chuck Ragsdale most recently returned from 18 months on the road with the Broadway national tour of the Tony Award-winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Regional appearances include principle roles in The Full Monty, Legally Blonde, The Music Man, Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and The Producers for prestigious companies such as The Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, and The Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. As a nine-season veteran at Maine State Music Theatre, he has also directed and served as Director of Education for MSMT’s Intern Company. Chuck has served on the acting faculty of CAP21 in NYC for over 15 years. He received his BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.

Bob Rankin

Bob Rankin

Noted painter Bob Rankin is a life-long resident of Raleigh and a graduate of the East Carolina University School of Art.  He has studied extensively throughout Europe and has visited more than 40 countries, all experiences that have significantly influenced his artwork.  Bob's passion for teaching led to a 30-year career in Wake County schools. He was named Sanderson High School’s Teacher of the Year, as well as the North Carolina Art Education Association's Secondary Art Educator of the Year. Bob has exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is in over 30 corporate collections. His honors include a Raleigh Medal of Arts, East Carolina University Outstanding Alumni of the Year in 2012, plus induction into both the Raleigh Hall of Fame (2015) and Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame (2016).

Terry Rhodes

Terry Rhodes

Soprano Terry Rhodes is Professor of Music and Senior Associate Dean for Fine Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  As Senior Associate Dean, she oversees American Studies, Art, Classics, Communication, Dramatic Art and PlayMakers Repertory Company, English and Comparative Literature, Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Linguistics, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Romance Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies.  She received her doctor of musical arts and master of music from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and her bachelor of music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Terry has earned a fine reputation as a performer of new works, having presented numerous premieres at home and abroad and sung in more than 20 countries.

Thomas Sayre

Thomas Sayre

Raleigh resident Thomas Sayre grew up in Washington, DC, in the shadow of the Washington Cathedral. He attended UNC-CH on a Morehead Scholarship and majored in English and studio art. He then attended the Master of Fine Arts Program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is known for his earthcastings, monumental sculptures made in and of the earth. Thomas is a founding principal of the multi-disciplinary design firm Clearscapes, alongside architect Steve Schuster. His commissioned public work is seen across the US and internationally in Istanbul, Turkey; Phuket, Thailand; Hong Kong; and Calgary and Ontario, Canada. Thomas is the recipient of an NEA grant and an honorary doctorate from North Carolina State University.

Mary D. Williams

Mary D. Williams

Gospel singer Mary D. Williams has traveled to more than 40 colleges and universities, hundreds of churches and libraries, and several civic education consortium trainings, performing song and narrative of the Black South. Mary recently received her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Mary and colleague Dr. Timothy B. Tyson have taught a community-based college course, “The South in Black and White: History, Culture and Politics in the 20th Century South,” six times at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham and for undergraduates from North Carolina Central University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Mary performed and provided her voice to the soundtrack of Blood Done Sign My Name (2010), directed by North Carolina’s own Jeb Stuart. She has also performed at the North Carolina State Capitol and has been featured on Dick Gordon’s show, “The Story,” as well as on National Public Radio. Her power as a singer and educator comes from the heart—her voice is a powerful gift.

ZOOCRÜ

ZOOCRÜ

Durham-based ZOOCRÜ showcases founding members Jonathan Curry, Christian Sharp and Alan Thompson, who were later joined by Russell Favret and Howard “Soul” Joyner to create a complete musical unit. Drawing from a rich musical legacy, ZOOCRÜ blends all popular American genres into a sound best described as Black American music. All band members are classically trained jazz musicians, and have layered their work with elements of hip hop, blues, rock and gospel. Infuse that with the geographic and cultural diversity that each member brings, and you have the ZOOCRÜ sound.

David Zucchino

David Zucchino

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, David Zucchino is a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for reporting from South Africa. He’s a four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for coverage of Iraq, Lebanon, Africa, and inner-city Philadelphia. A former reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer, David has reported from more than two dozen nations, with a recent focus on Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq. He is the author of the books Thunder Run and Myth of the Welfare Queen