Nora Willauer serves as Executive Director of DocSong and is a passionate musician, devoted not only to her instrument, but also to the relationship between music and community. Last spring, Nora graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music with her Masters of Music Performance. She is currently pursuing a performance certificate with Dr. Melissa Kraut. In the past few years, Nora has performed as a soloist with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, the Liceu Cello Ensemble in Barcelona, and the University of Oregon Symphony Orchestra. She has won numerous prizes including the Labberte-Hoedemaker Award from the Peter de Grote festival in the Netherlands, the University of Oregon Undergraduate Performance Award and the Eugene Symphony’s Young Artist Competition. She is the founder of “Songs of #MeToo,” a multimedia presentation that paired documentary songs written with women who had experienced sexual misconduct or domestic violence with the preludes from J.S. Bach’s cello suite. This performance raised over $8,000, benefitted the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, and included more than 20 different female artists from across the globe. Nora is excited to continue exploring the intersection between documentary songwriting and social justice: in the next few years she hopes to raise awareness around climate change through workshops and performances. Her email address is nwillauer@docsong.org


Amara Sperber serves as Marketing Coordinator for DocSong. As a violinist and educator, Amara works to empower people in their creative process. She is passionate about helping students master optimal skills and achieve their goals. A native of Portland, Oregon, Amara holds a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Oregon and a Master of Music Performance from the University of Nevada in Reno. Amara currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she received her Suzuki Method Teacher Training at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has spent her summers working and performing with music festivals around the U.S., Europe and Asia. In addition to teaching privately, she assists administration of various music organizations including The Cleveland Orchestra. Her email address is asperber@docsong.org

Board of Directors


Josie Davis serves as President of the board of DocSong. She has performed in a wide range of venues from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Monte Music Festival in India. She is interested in how music can be used as a form of cultural empowerment to build bridges and strengthen communities. Her teaching has brought her to Panama, India, and Community MusicWorks in Rhode Island. Josie is the founder and director of summer programs in Maine and Connecticut. She is thrilled to have recently moved back to Maine, where she splits her time between playing in Palaver Strings and Halcyon String Quartet and working at Bay Chamber Concerts & Music School. She is a member of the board of directors of Documentary Songwriters and serves as secretary. Josie holds degrees from Oberlin and Harvard. Her email address is jdavis@docsong.org


Jody Kerchner is a professor at Oberlin College. She specializes in secondary school music and choral music education She was awarded the Oberlin College Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011. She is founder and conductor of Oberlin Music at Grafton, a prison choir at the Grafton Correctional Institution. Prior to teaching at the collegiate level, Kerchner taught K-8 general and choral music in Swarthmore, Pa., and Winnetka, Il., and was conductor of the Oberlin Youth Chorale. An active clinician, she has presented keynote addresses, research papers, and pedagogy workshops nationally and internationally at conferences in North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Kerchner also frequently serves as guest choral conductor for elementary, middle, and high school honors choral festivals.


Lisa Whitfield has been an active orchestral and chamber musician in the Cleveland area for over a decade, after having spent nearly 20 years performing in the NYC metropolitan area. She is a classically trained violist who has also performed as a vocalist and improvising violist. In 2017, Ms. Whitfield was appointed as the inaugural Talent Development Program Officer at the Cleveland Institute of Music. During her tenure, she oversaw the Musical Pathway Fellowship, a program developed to find and cultivate classical musicians from the African American and Latinx community in the Cleveland area. Ms. Whitfield was on the solfege faculty of the Juilliard Pre-College, Juilliard’s MAP Program, and was a teaching fellow in the college division at Juilliard for 3 years. She is on the faculty of the Chamber Music Conference Chamber Music Conference (at Colgate University, formerly at Bennington College), where she has served as a faculty representative to the board of directors, and she is currently serving as the co-chair of the board’s DEI working group. She was privileged to sit on the music panel of the NY State Council on the Arts and she taught at the Third Street Music School Settlement for fourteen years.


Stanford Thompson is a musician and educator who serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly and Founding Board Chairman of El Sistema USA, bringing music education to students in underserved areas throughout Philadelphia and beyond. Recognized as a TED Fellow, Stanford believes that music education is a powerful tool for positive personal and community change. Mr. Thompson serves on the faculty of the Global Leaders Program and regularly presents at major universities and music conservatories about leadership, entrepreneurship and social justice. As a consultant, he has guided the development of dozens of music programs across the United States and collaborated with major orchestras, higher education institutions, and arts organizations to develop new strategies and initiatives that help provide equitable access to the arts. As a professional trumpeter, Stanford has performed as a soloist and member with major orchestras around the world and continues to perform chamber music and jazz. Stanford is a native of Atlanta, GA, a graduate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program and holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program.


Halley Elwell is an accomplished bi-coastal singer-songwriter and teacher, at home on stage and in the studio. In addition to performing internationally, she has been awarded the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers award and has been named by Nashville Songwriter’s Association as “One to Watch.” Originally from Hallowell, Maine, Halley earned her music degree in Jazz and African American Music Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she studied with Catherine Jensen-Hole (Norah Jones), gospel singer Horace Boyer, NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, and jazz pianist David Berkman. Upon graduating, she moved to San Francisco and performed in the club circuit, while studying with jazz vocalist and educator Kitty Margolis, and songwriter Bonnie Hayes. During her time there she recorded her first album, “Last Spring” and helped build the education program for the SFJAZZ Center. In 2016 Halley returned to her East Coast roots and began pursuing her love of teaching and songwriting full-time in Massachusetts.She continues to perform and write original music while teaching privately. Halley’s newest recording project, “Last of What I Know,” is due for release in 2021.


Mimi Bornstein is a choral director, song leader, pianist, workshop and worship leader, singer, and composer with a belief that when we sing we change who we are, and when we change who we are we change the world. Choruses under Ms. Bornstein’s direction have performed with noted musicians including the Grammy Award-winning Paul Winter Consort, Paul Sullivan, Theresa Thomason, and Jonathan Edwards. Ms. Bornstein served as founder and artistic director of Midcoast Community Chorus (MCC), a non-profit community arts organization hosting a 140-voice non-auditioned multigenerational chorus. With a mission to sing as a community for the community, MCC provides a place for people to find voice and give voice to the issues of our time. Performing at least two concerts per year, MCC’s spring concert benefits local non-profit organization doing important work in the community. MCC has donated over $90,000 since its founding in 2008. Currently, Mimi serves as founder and director of Voices United LLC, an organization dedicated to creating musical connections as pathways for promoting equality, opportunity and inclusion for all. Her email address is mbornstein@docsong.org

Teaching Artists

Melodi Var Öngel is a humanitarian and musician. In 2019, she gave an acclaimed TEDx talk on her documentary songwriting project in Cyprus: Songs Across Boundaries. She holds a B.A. from Bennington College and a Masters from the London School of Economics. Her goal is to use documentary songwriting as a way to increase communication and to construct alternative futures. She current resides in Geneva, Switzerland, and serves as in intern at the United Nations. Her email address is mvarongel@docsong.org


Zach Arfa is a documentary songwriter and dancer. Through his work at Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Programs, he has pioneered documentary songwriting in summer musicals and in camps addressing addiction and mental or health challenges. He attends Oberlin College where he is majoring in psychology and dance. Zach believes that it may be healing for individuals to be listened to openly, without judgment, as in documentary songwriting. He is interested in exploring the connection of that relationship and a therapeutic one. His email address is zarfa@docsong.org


Joaquin Contreras is a multi-instrumentalist and documentary songwriter. He focuses on writing documentary songs with families and communities in order to help them preserve their histories and cultures. He is a graduate of Bennington College, where he studied composition, theory, and musical performance. He also works with a student-led organization called Ganas, which provides support to Latinx migrant workers in southern Vermont. Joaquin is interested in collaborating with young musicians in disadvantaged areas. His email address is jcontreras@docsong.org


Caroline Rex-Waller pioneered the first-ever documentary songwriting workshop in a high school. Under her leadership, 37 students generated 37 lyrical and melodic sketches in 4 days. She directs the curriculum design project for Documentary Songwriters and teaches at Open School East in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from Smith College and is currently enrolled in a long-distance Master’s program at Middlebury. Her email address is crexwaller@docsong.org


Will Foote is a vocalist and songwriter. He has been instrumental in bringing documentary songs to venues ranging from folk festivals to intimate settings. In the role of a participant, he has composed melodic themes live on radio. In rural upstate New York, Will worked to document the emotions and experiences of contemporary farmers through music. He traveled to a center in Antwerp, Belgium to listen and write songs with people seeking asylum. Along with writing and performing, Will also teaches the documentary songwriting method in various ways, from high schools to internships. He is a graduate of Brewster Academy and of St. Lawrence University. Will wants to write documentary songs with people who have learning differences, as well as people who feel alienated in their communities. His email address is wfoote@docsong.org


Hazel Delehey is a documentary songwriter and studio vocalist. She pioneered the first documentary song for a documentary film for the High Mountain Institute in Colorado. She is also the first to offer her voice to represent women in the #Me Too Songs project. Additionally, Hazel is interested in writing songs with people who look to nature to guide them through struggle. Her email address is hdelehey@docsong.org


Alex Wilderis a songwriter, producer, audio engineer, and multi-instrumentalist from Maine, currently based in Nashville, TN. Alex writes and produces songs that use spoken stories as their basis with DocSong. He also performs freelance work. Alex’s work can be heard on recordings from Elsie Gawler, the Push Farther Project, Oshima Brothers, and others. He has recorded for Bay Chamber Concerts and Oberlin Conservatory. You can read more about Alex at alexwilder.com. His email address is awilder@docsong.org


Malcolm Brooks, PhD, is a composer and documentary songwriter. His work is heard on PBS, NOVA and the History Channel. He has written music for films that have won honors, including two Emmy nominations and a Peabody award. He serves on the faculty at Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School and holds degrees from Columbia, Berkeley, and Prescott. Malcolm is interested in writing documentary songs with people who are trying to understand their self-identity and who seek to become fully themselves in their own culture. His email address is mbrooks@docsong.org


Whit Arau (they/them/their) handles whatever needs doing at DocSong. Whit has a Bachelor’s of Science in environmental chemistry from Gordon College, graduating with honors in August 2019. They have worked for various labs funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and various international sources. However Whit is not only a scientist, they are also experienced in science writing, music composition, and podcast production. Whit is interested in writing documentary songs with queer people and people who have chronic health problems. Their email is warau@docsong.org


Caleb Edwards is both a recording artist and a visual artist. He can be heard on Spotify on “Where My Eyes Should Go.” His drawings and paintings have sold steadily for a number of years. His instruments include violin, mandolin, bass, and drums of every shape and size. His email address is cedwards@docsong.org


Rushmore DeNooyer has served the fields of music and film in numerous roles, including writer, producer, director, and composer. His film credits include over 25 documentaries for NOVA, the History Channel, the Smithsonian, and others. His awards include three Emmy nominations and a Peabody. His email address is rdenooyer@docsong.org

Khalid Taylor is a documentary songwiter and vocalist. He serves as a life and growth coach for people on a spiritual path. He holds a degree from Oberlin College in Musical Studies and currently lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. His email address is ktaylor@docsong.org


Jonny Westhorp is a guitarist and documentary songwriter from Manchester, England, living and working in Belgium. He holds popular and jazz music degrees from the University of Salford, UK, and the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, Belgium. He is currently studying for his masters in Jazz guitar. Having trained in community music with Musicians Without Borders, Jonny is interested in using music as a way of uniting and integrating marginalised members of society into the community. His email address is jwesthorp@docsong.org


Sophie Davis received degrees in violin performance and environmental studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and has since divided her time between musical performance and pedagogy. In 2017, Sophie was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Research Grant to spend nine months in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa where she explored the ways in which the arts can raise awareness of climate change. Sophie currently teaches strings at two music schools in Maine and is a member of the Halcyon String Quartet – an ensemble dedicated to using music and the arts to cultivate environmental stewardship.Her email address is sdavis@docsong.org


Genevieve Roby is a vocalist and documentary songwriter. From 2016 to 2018, she was a member of a band that covered songs to perform to the local community. In 2018 she and her bandmates, the group now titled RSB, produced a mini-album of original music called EPic. She attends Bennington College, where she studies the performing arts and creative writing. Genevieve is interested in the ways that music can be used as an inherent means of human connection and understanding. Her email address is groby@docsong.org


Ken Goldman started formal percussion studies in Iowa City. After focusing on classical music at Northwestern University’s School of Music, he turned to drum set and studied with Hamid Drake (Don Cherry) and Mark Walker (Oregon). He recorded with several bands while living in Oakland and toured with new grass band Sugar Beat. Performance highlights include the Telluride Bluegrass Festival with Tony Furtado and Matt Flinner, CBGB with Peter Stuart and playing the annual Replacements Tribute at First Avenue. Currently, he drums in jazz trio Katz and Dogs, soul/jive band Dizzy Hat, power pop band Good Mitten and various recording endeavors in the back room of his house. His email address is kgoldman@docsong.org


Chloë Isis is a songwriter and vocalist. In 2018, she composed and recorded with the Bay Chamber-Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project. Chloë conducted the first-ever live documentary songwriting session on radio. She is earning her undergraduate degree at Warren-Wilson College. Chloe is interested in writing documentary songs with people who are deaf, children, and people who are processing grief. Her email address is cisis@docsong.org

 
Board of Directors Emeritus

Monica Kelly serves as Executive Director of Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School. She is also the founder of the Odeon Orchestra, the first youth orchestra for young instrumentalists in the midcoast of Maine. She is graduate of Bowdoin College, with a major in Visual Arts and Art History.
 

Chris Finn has sung and played in churches since childhood, spending 13 years leading a Los Angeles based contemporary music church band. At DocSong, has led the Songs of Oswald Chambers project. His email address is cfinn@docsong.org


Anastasia Fischer serves as president of U.S. Harbors in Rockland, Maine. She also lads her own design firm, the Fischer Design Group. Anastasia graduated Magna Cum Laud from Bowdoin College with a major in history.