MEET THE ARTISTS

EMILY YOCUM BLACK

Co-Creator, Performer,
Teaching Artist for ONCE UPON A TIME
Described as a "sleek and glistening vocal talent" (San Francisco Chronicle), soprano Emily Yocum Black is emerging as a versatile and accomplished performer of many genres of music. Known for her sparkling, clear tone and particular gifts as a communicator, she feels at home in art song, chamber music, oratorio, choral, opera, and musical theatre. Emily has performed major works with orchestras and chamber ensembles across the U.S. including the Savannah Philharmonic, the Louisville Orchestra, the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, the Jackson Symphony, American Bach Soloists, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Spire Chamber Ensemble, Madison Bach Musicians, and Boubon Baroque. Recent engagements include Bach's B Minor Mass with Spire Chamber Ensemble, soprano soloist in Handel's Messiah with Bourbon Baroque and Spire Chamber Ensemble, Festival Recital Artist with the Savannah VOICE Festival, and soprano soloist for POPS Concerts with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, the Jackson Symphony, and the Savannah Philharmonic. Competitions include the 2019 Silver Medal and 2018 Sherrill Milnes Opera Award at the American Traditions Vocal Competition, First Place in the American Prize for Art Song - Professional Division, 1st Place in the 2019 Mid-South NATSAA Competition, 2nd Place in the 7th Annual Handel Aria Competition, and 1st Place in the 2016 Kentucky Bach Choir Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition.
Emily is an alumnus of SongFest (2017, 2014), American Bach Soloists Academy (2018), Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (2018), Savannah VOICE Festival (2020, 2019), RISE Camp at Crested Butte Music Festival (2020), and Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar (postponed until 2021). She holds bachelors and masters degrees in Vocal Performance from the University of Louisville School of Music where she was a Teaching Assistant in her graduate degree. Upon returning to her hometown of Paducah, Kentucky in 2017, Emily opened up the Atomic City Voice Studio and began teaching private voice there at local public schools. Emily is an active participant in the Market House Theatre, Paducah's award-winning community theater, as music director of children's shows and a performer. She is also co-founder of the choral ensemble, The Paducah Singers, along with her husband Fowler.
 
www.emilyyocumblack.com

MARIA MILLER

Co-Creator, Performer, Teaching Artist for ONCE UPON A TIME

Mezzo-soprano Maria Miller is a proud native of Paducah, KY, and is an emerging performer in opera, concert, and new music. She tries to find ways to incorporate her background in children's theatre, her language skills, and her passion for innovative performance into the art form of opera. In her house debut at Cincinnati Opera, originating the role of Nancy Smith in the world premiere of Blind Injustice, Opera News writes: "Miller made a very strong impression, showing a warm lyric voice with an easy top."  Before the cancellations due to the safety concerns of the coronavirus, Ms. Miller was to join the 2020 Apprentice Artist Program at Santa Fe Opera, covering the Turnspit in Rusalka.  

 

At home in new music, Miller has sung in Cincinnati Opera Fusion Workshops as the role of Rumer in William Menefield’s Fierce, as Celeste in Gregory SpearsCastor and Patience, and as Nancy Smith in Scott Davenport Richards’ Blind Injustice, which she later premiered in the mainstage season. She also performed the rare chamber work, Bettina Skrzypczak’s Miroirs, as part of the Café MoMus Polish Festival. On the concert stage, she will appear as a soloist for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Hilton Head Symphony.  She has performed as the alto soloist in Handel's Messiah and Bach B Minor Mass with Collegium Cincinnati, and Bernstein's MASS with the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus. Miller received an Encouragement Award at the 2020 MONC Southeast Regional Auditions, and was a winner of the West Tennessee District Auditions.  She also received an Encouragement Award at the 2019 MONC Southeast Regional Auditions the previous year, after having won the West Tennessee District Auditions. She has received the Treigle Award in the 2019 Corbett Competition in Cincinnati, Ohio. Miller holds a Master of Music in Voice from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where she also holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice. Her education is also represented by studies in Vocal Performance and French at the University of Louisville School of Music, and Theatre studies and French at the University of Evansville.

www.mariaemiller.com

KATHLEEN KELLY

Collaborative pianist, editor for ONCE UPON A TIME
KATHLEEN KELLY is a pianist, conductor, educator, and writer - and like many classical musicians, a recent experimenter with digital content. She has appeared internationally as a recital pianist, including appearances at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Vienna's Musikverein. She is a published poet and essayist, and has written several English adaptations of operas and well as several librettos. She was most closely associated with the San Francisco, Metropolitan, Houston Grand, and Vienna State Operas before joining the faculty of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2018.
www.kathleenkellymusic.com

RUTH BAGGETT

Puppet construction, art, set design for THE MERMAID PROJECT
RUTH BAGGETT is a contemporary multi-media book artist who lives and works in her native Paducah, KY.  Because her largescale installations and 2D works grow out of the American South's vibrant storytellng tradition, she is able to pay homage not only to her own family history, but also to invite viewers to tell their own stories. 
In her most recent installation, Extension of Thought, viewers meet thirty-two towering ladders reaching thirty feet into the air.  Each tower is made of chains of hand-crocheted hemp, bamboo and rice paper on which viewers discover hundreds of handwritten hopes, wishes, and prayers written by citizens in each city where Extension of Thought is exhibited. Taken together, the towers weave a document of American life and culture as told by the creators of the towers. As Baggett explains, "Telling our stories creates powerful bonds of friendship and understanding."
Baggett's work is part of many private collections and has been shown in exhibitions in the US, including Extension of Thought as well as her drawings, paintings, prints, and hand-crafted books.
Showing an innate creative talent at an early age, she earned a BFA in weaving from Murray State University (Murray, KY) and a MFA in book arts and printmaking from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA). She was awarded a book conservation internship at the American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin, and worked with master printmaker Peter Kruty in Brooklyn, NY. A recently retired school teacher and gallery owner, she is presently chief curator of artworks presented at the Freight House and Hotel 1857 and a tour guide at the National Quilt Museum, all in Paducah, KY, a UNESCO designated Creative City.

DANIEL YOCUM

Filmmaker, Producer for ONCE UPON A TIME
Being a thief came first. My foray into filmmaking began the day I stole my mother's VHS camcorder that she got at a run-of-the-mill yard sale. At 7-years-old, I now had two occupations: filmmaking and thievery. But, I knew I couldn't do both. I took the high road and stuck to filmmaking and put the past where it belongs.
The first projects I worked on were about espionage and murder. I was in kindergarten. My personal favorite from that youthful era was a campy, thrasher-style horror flick about a monster with a tennis ball head, which by the end of the film had fake blood splattered across its fuzzy yellow face. By the end of middle school, I was quickly approaching 1,000 short films. Trust me, if you grew up in Paducah, KY, you'd be just as productive. 
As I grew up and matured in my tastes, I found myself making all sorts of short and feature-length films, documentaries, music videos, training films, and commercials. I've worked in many places like Nashville, St. Louis, Paducah, and Los Angeles and pitched movies to distributors at the American Film Market in Santa Monica and the Cannes Film Festival. Some of my films have won categories like best cinematography, sound design, and score. And through all of that, I wasn't just behind the camera. I've also written screenplays, worked lights and sound, directed large and small crews of actors, designed and built sets, made costumes, and created special effects. I can assemble all of the pieces to tell a story that gives the audience something they can take home with them. 
www.danielyocum.com

EMILY GRIFFIN

Collaborator for OVERALLS @ MHT: "BIRD SONGS"
EMILY GRIFFIN (she/her/hers) graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a B.A. in Communication and Theatre Education. She was also the recipient of the Purple and Old Gold Award for Conspicuous Achievement in Performance Studies. She completed her student teaching in St. Paul, Minnesota at Central High School working with the Central Touring Theatre. In addition to her student teaching, Emily completed two summer internships at the Des Moines Playhouse. She continued to teach for the Playhouse’s Education Department for ten years after her internships. Emily’s first teaching job was at Central Middle School in Columbia Heights, Minnesota before returning to Iowa to take over as the director of Hoover Drama at Hoover High School in Des Moines Iowa. In addition to directing an award-winning theatre program, Emily taught classes in performance, technical theatre, and musical theatre.
 
Outside of the classroom Emily enjoyed acting, stage managing, choreographing, costuming, and doing props around the community with the Ames, Ankeny, and Des Moines Community Theatres. She also enjoys writing plays for young actors and has had several plays receive All-State nominations with the Iowa High School Speech Association. She comes from a wonderful family back in Iowa and loves to spend time with her three nephews, Arlo, Hayes, and Gabriel.
 
Contact Emily at 270.444.6828 ext. 102 or via email at egriffin@mhtplay.org.
www.mhtplay.org
  • Instagram
Subscribe now for occasional Opera in Overalls News.

Photos by Fowler Black.  Copyright 2020 Opera in Overalls. All rights reserved.