Mara Adler-O’Kelly - By the time she was 14, Mara was singing background vocals for local popstars and celebrities and had been selected to tour Japan with the San Francisco Girls Chorus. She subsequently sang on a Grammy winning album with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and can be heard singing in the background of the film “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” At 15 she landed her first role, singing a solo with the San Francisco Opera, among many of the great singers of the early 2000’s. At the ages of 16, and 17, she was selected to sing the Role of Mimi in La Boheme, and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Melody Stevens took the opportunity during Covid-19 quarantine and the shutdown of Broadway to record and send out daily to friends and family 539 songs in multiple genres. These songs included 14 of her originals.
Melody has a Bachelor of Music degree from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and a Master of Music Degree from Westminster Choir College at Rider University. Currently, she is the music director for Red Bank Catholic High School, Music Director for The Misfits Theatre Company of Manalapan, and teaches a full studio of private voice and piano students. She teaches music theory and music history at the college level. She has also served as a musical theater vocal coach/technician at Fairleigh Dickenson University in New Jersey.
Evita Belmonte, vocalist, and percussionist
As a young child, Evita enjoyed watching The Ed Sullivan Show on television with her family. The popular variety show was chock full of entertainers hosted by Ed Sullivan, the well-known syndicated columnist at the time for the New York Daily News and Chicago Tribune news group. There was also the sedate Lawrence Welk Show where she saw musicians playing the accordion and was tickled by the bubbles floating around the name of the show’s host in the opening of the show.
Those shows were inspiring and eventually led to once-a-week lessons for Evita to learn to play the accordion. At the same time, in elementary school her other musical involvements were singing in the church choir as a young soprano turned alto because they needed singers who could remember the harmonies and continue to sing loud enough on the musical selections. There was also the school band where Evita and other students were instructed by the music director on how to play rudiments on the drums for the band, orchestra and Drum and Bugle corps.
As such, we demonstrated our marching abilities in local parades and the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Collectively we won medals in competitions as the school band’s drum unit. In the high school band, she took up learning how to form an aperture with her lips on the trumpet playing songs and still marching while representing the high school in the same parades.
Recommended by a high school girlfriend from the color guard, Evita was recruited to “only” play trumpet for a band in the making modeled after Epic recording artists Sly and the Family Stone’s soul, rock, jazzy funk sound. The 7-member band adopted the name of “Life USA.” She evolved quickly within the group becoming one of the lead vocalists singing top 40 hit songs of the day. Using her versatility she sang and played all manner of percussion instruments like tambourine, wood block, timbales, conga drum and a marching drum with syncopated rhythms. Life USA became RCA recording artists with the release of “Marching to a Different Drummer.” The group continued to perform together featured as a Long Island band in the karate movie “Force Plus Four” filmed on a spacious New York estate. Evita wrote the movie’s theme song and assisted with soundtrack production for the film in the recording studio. Life USA also recorded with Buddha records. Throughout the 70’s decade, Evita and friends made a Marcal Company Paper products commercial, performed at Belmonte Park racetrack, cabarets, restaurants, private parties and clubs in Westchester, Long Island, New York, Vermont, Lake George, NY, Panama City, Florida and in various universities in Massachusetts. Where in a medical emergency situation the band’s drummer fell ill Evita was asked to step in and afterwards was touted by the star as being the first female trap drum player in a band to back up the jocular singer and guitarist Chuck Berry. Evita was elated to have met Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as well as other notable performers. One of the most memorable performances for her with the group was at the world-famous Copacabana in Manhattan, NY.
Evita’s love of music translated to teaching drums to teens in summer programs, singing songwriter’s original songs on demos, music director of a Queens chapter for the “Church of the Nazarene,” teaching two-to-five-year old’s music in a preschool aptly named Mozarts and Einsteins, participating as a singer again in the Catholic church choir, singing and playing drums for two different Contempo church choirs.
Evita obtained a bachelor’s degree in Education from The City University of New York’s City Tech. As a community educational advocate for NYC schools, parents of special ed children, shelter families, and PTA’s Evita was appointed to represent the Queens, NY community as a member of the “Panel for Educational Policy” on the NYC Board of Education by the Honorable Helen Marshal, Borough President. Evita has two grown daughters and three young grandsons and currently resides in Suffolk County, NY.
Patricia Lazzara, flutist, has distinguished herself as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. She is a three time winner of the Artists International competition in New York City and gave her critically acclaimed New York recital debut at Cami Hall.
Patricia’s newest solo CD – “Radiance” has been recently (June 2018) released to rave reviews. The album is a celebration of spiritual transformation and new creation with 3 newly commissioned pieces written specifically for the album. Composers include Grammy nominated Ron Korb, Dmitriy Varelas and Maurizio Balzola. In the summers, Ms. Lazzara travels to Assisi, Italy where she performs on the Assisi Performing Arts Concert Series.
Ms. Lazzara has performed at Carnegie Hall several times and at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
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