Knoxville 2024 banner



Nicole Robinson 

  • Keynote Speaker 
  • Matrix of Intersectionality, An Interactive Game 
  • IDEA Panel Discussion 
  • Coffee + Conversation 

Nicole RobinsonDr. Robinson is a nationally acclaimed educator, scholar, speaker, and author who has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences, published articles in several industry-leading research journals and co-authored three academic textbooks. She founded Cultural Connections by Design (CCBD) with the primary aim of supporting organizations in establishing equity-centered processes and implementing best practices to shift the organizational culture towards a culture of belonging – a culture that accepts, values, and leverages the strengths among differences. Drawing from her extensive educational background, Dr. Robinson understands that for transformation to occur, learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion had to evolve from a “training” process to an “educational” process. Using her knowledge about teaching and learning and her creativity as a music educator, Dr. Robinson can navigate the complexities of the cultural landscape using creative, innovative, and “out of the box” techniques that make her approach like no other. 

Nicole Robinson: The Matrix of Intersectionality Interactive Game 

Thousands across the U.S. and Canada have used this learning tool which guides individuals to explore the constructs that shape the ideology of privilege. During the session, participants complete an identity mapping process that guides them through a self-discovery process of the various privilege categories, the associated power within each category, and, more importantly, the responsibility required for each. 

Lawrence Brownlee Performance Class 

Friday, June 28 at 3:30 p.m. | Knoxville Convention Center

Lawrence BrownleeConference artist, Lawrence Brownlee, will work with singers on diverse repertoire, sharing his expertise and offering guidance to young artists who will perform. Brownlee is a leading figure in opera, both as a singer on the world’s top stages, and as a voice for activism and diversity in the industry. Captivating audiences and critics around the globe, he has been hailed as “an international star in the bel canto operatic repertory” (The New York Times), “one of the world’s leading bel canto stars” (The Guardian), and “one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today” (NPR).  

The Unsung Heroes of the Voice: Shaping Timbre with the Tongue and Pharyngeal Constrictors  

Presenter: Kerrie Obert 

Saturday, June 29 at 10:30 a.m. | Knoxville Convention Center

Kerrie ObertThe tongue and pharyngeal constrictor muscles are often blamed for causing tension. But do their actions really cause tension? Or are these structures the unsung heroes in the creation of robust sounds? Research indicates that these structures help narrow the vocal tract to create ring and twang qualities and challenges the notion that "open is better."

Join us for this important lecture on vocal tract shaping and gain a fresh understanding of how the vocal tract uses narrowings to enhance resonance. Obert's perspective, based on her MRI and endoscopy research, questions long-held beliefs about how people produce singer's formant, among other things. This lecture is not to be missed!

The Sound of Identity

Presenter: Director James Kicklighter

Sunday, June 30 at 2 p.m. | Knoxville Convention Center

The Sound of IdentityA unique opportunity for a public viewing of this ground-breaking documentary with an introduction by director James Kicklighter. The "Sound of Identity" is a unique, history making, feature-length documentary. It features the first ever transgender woman performing an opera lead in the U.S. with a professional company, in a standard work. And, it happened in Tulsa. Playing Don Giovanni, Lucia Lucas breaks archaic social barriers, making way for other trans opera performers. The New York Times says “ her booming, powerful baritone ricocheted off the walls, Ms. Lucas, 38, became the (Don Giovanni) character...” The Guardian calls Ms. Lucas “a rising star” while the San Francisco Chronicle says while she “boasts a robust, flexible baritone… these (the) roles open up new dramatic vistas.” 

Teaching Tradition: Workshopping Vocals with ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music Program Director

Presenter: Dan Boner

Monday, July 1 at 10:30 a.m. | Knoxville Convention Center

Dan BonerEast Tennessee State University has been the leading institution for bluegrass, old-time, and country music in higher education since 1982. Their purpose is to honor the ways that these styles of music have been handed down for generations, while also encouraging innovation and exploration of related and newly emerging musical styles. Hear from current band members and special guests.


Music of the 21st Century and the Collaborative Pianist: A Performance Class with Kathleen Kelly

Sunday, June 30 at 10:30 a.m. | Knoxville Convention Center, Ballroom ABC

Kathleen KellyExplore the world of contemporary music with respected collaborative pianist Kathleen Kelly. Known for her expertise in 21st century works, join us as Kathy shares her unique insights into musical theatre, opera, and art song literature. With an emphasis on the collaborative pianist, learn more about contemporary nuances that are not based on 19th century performance traditions. From style and rhythmic influences to orchestral compositions and colors, both pianists and singers alike will benefit from this discussion on how to handle different considerations in the contemporary repertoire. Kathy will also highlight advantages of programming and performing contemporary music, such as the opportunity to have living people around to discuss their music with you!