Listee Features — Music

R. Aileen James


A concert pianist focused on music history and education, with a particular interest in the work of Johannes Brahms, R. Aileen James, DMA, was a child piano prodigy. She recalls growing up and living in a small town in Tennessee, where her father would come home and play hymns on a Chickering Spinet piano. At just 2 years old, she would sit beside him and play the melody portion of the song. By 3 years old, she began playing with both hands. In a nearby town, there was a woman who graduated with a degree in piano. The woman had a class for preschool students and Dr. James’ mother enrolled her in the class. For her first piano recital, the

Read More »


A vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Carole J. Seitz became involved in her profession because her mother was a pianist. She and her sister took piano lessons beginning at four years old through the wonderful string program where she grew up in Wichita, Kansas. She started violin in the fourth grade, taking free lessons that were given by the public schools. Ms. Seitz still plays the piano every day and substitutes for the organist at her church when needed. Retiring in 2015, Ms. Seitz is a professor emerita of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, previously joining the school in 1962 as an associate professor of music. Serving in this role for one year, she chaired the Music and Fine Arts Department at

Read More »
Janet Lee


Loyal and trustworthy, Rev. Janet A. Lee has led an exemplary career in music education and religion. She started out as a music teacher at Berkley Public Schools and as an assistant in music at the Royal Oak First United Methodist Church in Michigan, and later advanced to become the minister of music and arts at Clawson United Methodist Church and the lifestyle and religion editor of the Hillsdale Daily News. Rev. Lee also used her talents to serve as a consultant in church music and arts. Since 2011, she has continued her efforts through her role as a church musician at the Jonesville United Methodist Church. She plays the piano, organ, and clarinet there. Rev. Lee considers the best

Read More »
Serena Ray Pearce


An expert in choral music, Serena Ray Pearce can trace her love for the field back to her father, a church singer. The director of her father’s choir recognized Ms. Pearce’s talent when she was very young, and she worked hard to foster that and improve. She joined a middle school group composed of excellent singers and musicians, who helped her develop a deeper understanding for the pieces she performed. After this, she transferred to a high school known for their choral music program. Ms. Pearce went on to earn a Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina in 1973 and a Master of Music from Meredith College in 1987. She also became a licensed music teacher for

Read More »


When Donna Kelly Eastman was 3 years old, her mother noticed her ability to sing and identify notes. Although no one in the family was in the music industry, they encouraged her to develop her talents and supported her as she sought to find her place. Ms. Eastman’s journey first brought her to the University of Colorado, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1967. She later furthered her knowledge with a Master of Music from the University of Maryland in 1973 and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland in 1992. While Ms. Eastman was honing her skills in school, she was also making a name for herself in her professional community. She

Read More »


From the time she was young, Lois A. Height Allen dreamed of using her passion for music and education to make a difference. She was raised in a family that stressed the importance of helping others, and she was determined to follow in their footsteps. To help her achieve her goals, Ms. Allen earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts from Ohio State University in 1954 and 1958, respectively. She then joined prominent organizations like the American Guild of Organists, the Choristers Guild of America, and the Federation of American Baptist Musicians to help her keep on top of developments in the field. Over the years, Ms. Allen garnered a reputation for excellence amongst her peers. She

Read More »
Marsha Wright


Surrounded by music her whole life, Marsha J. Wright never considered another path. She honed her skills in high school, where she sang in a barbershop quartet and played in the band, and then at college, where she earned both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science in music education from Fort Wayne Bible College and Ball State University, respectively. Ms. Wright hoped to combine her talents with her dedication to her church, so she also became a licensed ministerial through The Missionary Church. The first stop on Ms. Wright’s professional journey was Fort Wayne Community Schools, where she served as a junior high music teacher from 1970 to 1976. She became the minister of music at the

Read More »


In Severine Neff’s eyes, her entire career has been a dream come true. She always felt drawn to music and academia, and being able to combine the two made her feel alive. Dr. Neff particularly loved helping others find the same passion she harbored. Her first professional position was assistant professor at Bates College in Maine, followed by assistant professor at the University of Hawaii and at Barnard College in New York. She then became an associate professor at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory and was promoted to professor at the institution two years later. Although Dr. Neff enjoyed her time there, she eventually decided to leave to join the music department at the University of North Carolina. She quickly found she

Read More »


Inspired by her mother, a pianist, Margaret “Peggy” Kendig Lee knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue music professionally. She particularly wanted to help others discover their own connection to the art, so she set out to become a music teacher. The first stop on her journey was the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Master of Education in 1964 and 1965, respectively. Ms. Lee then obtained a Master of Arts in musicology from the University of Georgia in 1977 and became certified by the Georgia Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association. She also studied under a number of great pianists, including Walter Houtzing. Ms. Lee’s

Read More »


Inspired by her father, a music teacher and the first black man to be hired by Perth Amboy Public Schools, Joyce Suzanne Richardson-Melech has dedicated herself to building her own legacy in the field. She started as a musical teacher in the Perth Amboy Board of Education, and quickly added the positions of assistant band director, musical play director, and gifted and talented music teacher to her repertoire. Dr. Richardson-Melech then took her talents to the Anthony V. Ceres Elementary School, where she served as a musical play and chorus director, and to the Dr. Herbert N. Richardson 21st Century Elementary School, where she served as a music teacher. Although she retired in 2014, she couldn’t stay away long. Dr.

Read More »