Voices of Valor
has performed at the Rainbow Room, The Waldorf, the Roseland Ballroom, Giants Stadium, and Shea Stadium. Jennifer toured the world entertaining the troops as Miss USO 2001. She has sung for audiences as small as 8 to as large as 80,000, in venues ranging from intimate clubs to the rolling decks of an aircraft carrier. An accomplished actress as well as singer, Jennifer has been seen Off Broadway in The York Theater Company’s production “The Show Goes On” with Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt and can be heard on the original cast album. In addition to her extensive theatrical resume Jennifer had the honor of headlining with Phyllis Diller in a tribute to Bob Hope with the Air Force Band of Flight at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Jennifer works with Music For All Seasons as a Musician/Facilitator in the Voices of Valor program. She holds a BFA in Music Theater from the Boston Conservatory of Music.
Cuban vocalist and guitarist Julio Fernandez was raised in Hoboken, NJ and has been part of the New York area music scene for the past three decades. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Julio worked with publisher/songwriter Lou Stallman (It’s Gonna Take a Miracle and Yankees Theme Song) as a staff writer for Stallman Records based in NYC. As a result, he has over 100 published songs. Julio has worked with many different artists including Bernie Williams, Dave Samuels, Chuck Loeb, Jay Beckenstein, Eren Cannata, Jeremy Wall, Marion Meadows, Emanuel, Destiny’s Child, Phoebe Snow, The Sugar Hill Gang, Tommy James, Eric Marienthal, BB King, and David Broza, both live and in the studio. For the past 28 years he has been a member of the contemporary jazz group Spyro Gyra. In addition to touring the world and recording on twenty-two of the band’s thirty albums, he has also contributed over twenty-five compositions to the group’s effort and has been involved as Assistant Producer on the band’s last few albums. Julio works as a Musician/Facilitator with Music For All Seasons on the Voices of Valor project.
is a singer, coach and writer based in NYC. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music. She continued her studies with voice coaches David Friedman and Jennifer Hamady, who trained her in mind-body solutions to common vocal issues. Fascinated in the psychology of vocal performance, Melissa completed the Co-Active Coach training at The Coaches Training Institute. Her business, Melisma Coaching (www.melismacoaching.com), combines voice coaching and life coaching to help performers discover their full potential and achieve professional goals. Melissa has sung at venues in the city such as City Winery, The Triad, Toshi’s Living Room and the Cornelia St. Cafe. Her other passions include dancing, acting, and writing. She feels honored to be working with veterans to help them find resilience and joy through music.
Benny’s music is a gourmet’s blend of urban, pop, funk, rhythm & blues, and Latin. Sophisticated mixtures of rhythm, soul, jazz, blues, Latin fire, raw funk and energy. He is surrounded by some of the greatest musicians on the planet. Benny has shared stages with these greats for decades. A beloved friend, accomplished musician, outstanding piano player, versatile and soulful singer, respected band leader and musical director, and a tremendously gifted songwriter. His music reaches deep and touches many. He’s a hardworking talent whose efforts have contributed to the performances and recordings of Angelica Torn, Corey Glover, Slash, Peter Criss, Hiram Bullock, Phoebe Snow, and Oscar Hernandez. Benny was born in Harlem. His parents are of Puerto Rican and Scottish descent, leaving Benny’s many musical tastes from both sides of the “pond”. Benny and the Spydrs are the buzz in the New York music scene, filling houses and rockin’ audiences wherever they go.
was born on an Army base in Berlin, Germany, moving with her family to Maine soon after. Kirsten developed her talent from a young age with the music of Linda Ronstadt and singing in church in the “Northern Baptist” style. But her music was transformed with the discovery of Aretha Franklin, traditional New Orleans jazz and the classic women blues singers of the 1920s while attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The thrill of performing in public compelled her to abandon the pursuit of a lucrative career in banking and investment for a creative one in singing and songwriting. Settling in New York City and releasing her debut She Really Is, Kirsten embarked on extensive touring in the US and Ireland. Working solo or with her amazingly tight and talented longtime band, honed by grueling one-nighters on the road and serious woodshedding at her Harlem home, Kirsten has become a formidable performer and songwriter. On the merits of her sophomore release You’ve Got Me on Screen Door Records, Thien won the Abe Olman Award for Excellence in Songwriting in 2009 (previous winners include John Legend and Edie Carey). In May of 2014 Kirsten Thien was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame.
Susan D (Didrichsen) is a professional singer, performer, songwriter, and teacher in New York City. She has performed or toured with Wilson Pickett, Spyro Gyra, Al Kooper, Ronnie Spector, J. Geils, Jennifer Hudson, John Cale, David Byrne, and many others. She has toured Denmark, Italy, Japan, and China, performing and teaching her New York City Vocal Performance Workshop.
Comfortable in different musical genres, Susan was performing monthly before the 2020 pandemic lockdown in four different jazz venues: The Rum House, the Flatiron Room, Bonafide, and the Zinc Bar. She performed with a jazz trio, a duo, and also with Lou Caputo’s Not So Big Band. She was also performing regularly with Los Tostones, a fun cover band; Jerry Lawrence and the Chelsea Angels, a vocal-centric original project; Strangeland, a Leon Russell and Dr. John Tribute band: and Crispin Cioe’s soul band, Cracked Ice. Her latest artist project is with Seth Glassman, with whom she will soon release their EP, “I’ve Got A Line On You”, and for which she made this first video of her version of the classic cover, “Goin Outta My Head” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU5BU41LILY.
Ron Haney is a guitarist, bassist, producer and songwriter raised on the New Jersey Shore. As a founding member of the band The Churchills (Universal Records) he toured the world and had numerous songs placed in film and television shows including Spin City, ER, Third Watch, Scrubs, Pretty Little Liars, Project Runway and the Oscar nominated film The Messenger. The Churchills wrote the theme song for the MTV show Juvies. Ron co-wrote and played guitar on “Tell You Something (Nana’s Reprise)” with Grammy award winning artist Alicia Keys for her album As I Am and co-wrote and co-produced her single “Better You, Better Me” which was included on the soundtrack of the film The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. He also played guitar on Alicia’s album The Element of Freedom and was in her band for the 2007 event called Black Ball where he played with Gwen Stefani, Sheryl Crow and Bono.Ron currently writes, records and produces music for artists, film and television at his studio on the Jersey Shore. In the last few years he has had the incredible good fortune to play Madison Square Garden as a guitar player for NJ band Williams Honor opening for Bonjovi and to have been the bass player for Bruce Springsteen in two separate performances. Realizing a song from start to finish with the veterans through Voices of Valor has been one of the most rewarding musical and life experiences Ron has had the pleasure to be a part of. He is an avid runner, vegetarian and unapologetic cheerleader for sobriety. He has amassed nearly 30 years of clean living a day at a time. Ron cannot sing but that never stops him from trying.
Gwyn English Nielsen
Born on Frank Sinatra’s birthday (as her mother would say), December 12, 1958 in Westfield, New Jersey, Gwyn English Nielsen started singing at the young age of four. She made her official public debut performing “Whistle a Happy Tune” from The King and I in fourth grade at Echobrook School in Mountainside, New Jersey. Gwyn does not remember a time when she did not have a vibrato.
As a young adult, Gwyn performed classical music, touring Europe with the Cantabile Singers, the Bucknell University Chorus, and the Heidelberg University Choir. She performed both as a soloist and in choirs anywhere from street corners in Canada and France to Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, New York. After a series of featured roles as a singer and actress in various musicals in high school and college, she began her solo career as a lead vocalist with Realm, an acoustic guitar duo that played coffee houses on the campus of her university, Bucknell, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Just months after graduating from Bucknell with a B.A. in English, theatre and education, Gwyn began her professional career touring with The Mark Channing Show Band, featuring Mark Channing, who was awarded the best male vocalist of 1978. She has performed professionally both as a jazz artist and top-forty singer with Fats Deacon and the Dumb Waiters, the Neil Edwards Orchestra, the Mark Morganelli Jazz Quartet, Hank Joel Orchestras, the Horizon Orchestra, Dynasty Orchestras, and R&R. She appeared on television in Poland and the United States on “Primetime with Tell and Lil” as a vocalist and as an actress in feature films, such as Lean On Me directed by Arthur Penn and Penn and Teller Get Killed directed by John Avildsen as an actress.
Most recently through Music For All Seasons, she has performed alongside jazz pianist Dave Lewis at homes for abused women and children. She has studied classical production (opera) with Joseph Hill and performs annually as a first soprano with the Mountainside Community Chorus, Mountainside, New Jersey. Gwyn resides in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.
Jazz vocalist and pianist/composer Lou Watson blends his deep, warm, sonorous baritone together with songs of his own creation, in the classic Jazz/R&B tradition, to produce sensuous, romantic, and truly timeless musical creations. For several years, Lou has been performing in nightclubs in the New York metropolitan area, as well as private affairs both as a solo pianist and with his jazz trio serving up stylish renditions of traditional jazz standards. He has also performed with countless concert tours and road productions. Lou Watson’s consummate artistry is on full display on “It Doesn’t Matter,” released on the Village Notz Music label. Different stylistic genres, and artists such as Johnny Hartman, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Patti Austin, Kurt Elling and Dianne Reeves influence Lou’s vocal style. His R&B musical heritage, united with jazz, funk, pop and gospel, combine to form his highly personal, distinctive vocal style. All of these influences helped inform Lou’s own musical choices. Lou has worked with Music For All Seasons for the past eleven years, most recently as a Musician/Facilitator for the Voices of Valor program.