Naz Edwards is an actor, singer and educator who has graced many stages throughout the U.S. and Canada, from Broadway to national tours, regional theaters and Cabaret. Some of her favorite roles include:  On Broadway, ZORBA as the Leader, opposite Anthony Quinn, and ANNA KARENINA (the musical) as Dunyasha; National Tour, ZORBA and Ken Hill's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, as Madame Giry; Regional Theaters, Dennis DeYoung's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, as Mahiette, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, as Drowsy, MAN OF LA MANCHA, as Aldonza, SHE LOVES ME, as Ilona, ONCE UPON MATTRESS, as The Queen, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, as Yenta, FUNNY GIRL, as Mrs. Brice, THE BAKERS WIFE, as Denise, OTHER DESERT CITIES, as Polly, MY NAME IS ASHER LEV, as Mother, NOISES OFF, as Dotty, as THE CLEAN HOUSE, Woman/Ana, SOUVENIR, as Florence Foster Jenkins, and WOMAN BEFORE A GLASS, as Peggy Guggenheim.  For anime' fans, Naz is the voice of the wicked Queen Beryl on SAILOR MOON!

For Naz, teaching has been a huge passion.  Aside of her private studio where whe prepares high school students for their university musical theater and acting programs, she also has recently launched her program, Acting Through Song: Rediscovering the Great American Songbook.  Naz has a deep affection for the Great American Songbook and loves to see our next generation of performers discovering it's beauty. In her teaching, Naz believes that combining all aspects of performing, acting, singing, interpretation, presentation, and most importantly, storytelling, is key to a fully realized performance.  "Connect-Create-Communicate" is the hallmark of her work.

Naz has also worked with Michael Feinstein and his Great American Songbook Competition, and now his Songbook Academy, since 2012, as a teacher/clinician and judge. This is her third year as a clinician and judge with Songbook South.

Naz has studied with Joan Lader, Joan Kobin, Judith Blazer and Tom Burke.  She is a proud member of both AEA and SAG/AFTRA.

Learn more about Naz's performing career and teaching at

Melanie Shore Melanie Shore’s dynamic musical fluency on the piano and Hammond B3 has established her as an accomplished performer, sought-after studio musician, music director, and award-winning composer and arranger.

Over her career, she has performed with an array of artists, including Chuck Berry, Il Divo, Lea Salonga, David Archuleta, Debby Boone, Restless Heart, and Teddy Gentry from the Grammy Award-winning group Alabama, among many others. Melanie recently completed her stay as associate music director/conductor for the first U.S. national tour of Roald Dahl and Tim Minchin’s Matilda The Musical.

Melanie is currently music directing for Michael Feinstein’s Great American Songbook Foundation. Formerly, she served as musical director and arranger, as well as played keyboard/Hammond B3 organ alongside pop and country multi-platinum artist Collin Raye. She has been featured in and is a regular contributor to Joseph Gordon-Leavitt’s collaborative musical community, hitRECord. In addition, she has played for many national Broadway tours and also tours with the soul/funk/fusion group led by Kris Johnson of the Count Basie Big Band. Melanie is also experienced in hand doubling for film and was in all three installments of Disney’s High School Musical movies.

As a composer and arranger, Melanie has been commissioned by various organizations across the United States for her choral, orchestral, and jazz works. She is also the arranger for the Homecoming Spectacular series, where she has written for renowned artists Gladys Knight, Kristen Chenoweth, Ben Rector, Colbie Callait, and Peter Hollens. Melanie regularly arranges for the world’s largest choral-orchestral organization, Millennial Choirs and Orchestras, as well as for jazz group, “Downbeat Award” winner, The Crescent Super Band.

As a studio musician, she is known for her authentic stylistic versatility and can be found recording everything from pop to funk, gospel, soul, musical theatre, and jazz. She has recorded for many independent artists, and also arranged and recorded Collin Raye’s album, His Love Remains.

Melanie holds a masters degree in jazz studies and is a sought-after clinician and mentor for jazz bands and combos, and has been a university jazz faculty member for over 15 years. She is currently a presenter and clinician for the 2020 international Jazz Education Network Conference (JEN) in New Orleans.

When not performing, arranging, or touring, she gives back to the community by visiting rest homes and schools with her therapy dog, Scotty. She is also a podcast host/creator/editor and hosts a program helping to educate others about grief management.

Visit Mel's website at

Thursday, September 17 - Saturday, September 19, 2020

Centenary College of Louisiana

Hurley School of Music - Anderson Auditorium

*visit the Event Registration page for details

Songbook South Inspiration Weekend:

Workshops, Master classes, and High School Vocal Competition

Great American Songbook Edition

Dr. James Eakin was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana.  From an early age, he was drawn to his native blues and jazz as well as classical and film music, playing everything he heard by ear on the piano and experimenting with his own compositions. It wasn’t until years later that he began formal music studies.

He earned a Bachelor of Music from Centenary College (2000), a Master of Music from Southern Methodist University (2003), and in 2007, received a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Composition at the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City.  James has had the privilege of studying with some of music’s most prominent composers: John Corigliano, Jeff Rona, Jack Smalley, George Tsontakis, Bruce Broughton, Zhou Long, and Chen Yi.

Eakin's music catalog is prolific and spans genres from Concert Hall to Pop/Rock. He has composed works for Maya Angelou’s 80th Birthday celebration, the President’s Christmas Gala at the White House, and the Aspen Music Festival to name a few. James’ hour-long “Flowers over the Graves of War” for Chorus, Soloists, and Orchestra premiered to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall and most recently, his “#twitterlieder: 15 tweets in 3 acts,” premiered by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at Davies Symphony Hall, has taken the choral world by storm.

On his philosophy of composing James says, “I don't draw lines in the sand; music is music, regardless of the genre. If it's got melody, harmony, or rhythm, I can write it.”

James composes with the speed of a film composer and the attention to detail of a concert composer. His grasp of today’s current music technology, his extensive knowledge of various musical styles, periods, instrumentation, and orchestration techniques makes him uniquely qualified for any project that comes his way.

Learn more about Dr. Eakin's career at

Dr. Ross E. Smith is Associate Professor of Piano at the Hurley School of Music of Centenary College of Louisiana. He received his bachelor’s degree in piano from Brigham Young University, and earned his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

While in graduate school he taught piano and music literature at the University of Michigan All-State Summer Camp at Interlochen for three summer terms. He has been an active soloist, giving recitals throughout the United States and in Italy. He traveled to Italy on a research grant from Centenary College to study the life and music of Alfredo Casella at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome, and has given lectures and recitals based on his findings there.

Dr. Smith is also an active clinician, offering lecture recitals that include a variety of topics including a dramatization of Chopin’s Ballade in F Minor, the transcendentalism of Beethoven’s Sonata Op.111, Rachmaninoff’s “Faust” Sonata, and advanced pedaling techniques. At Centenary College he has taught Film Music, Music Theory, Intro to Music History, Applied Piano, Senior Seminar, and has been a regular guest lecturer in a wide variety of Centenary’s religion courses. In the Fall 2009 semester he co-taught the course “Joseph Smith and Early Mormonism” with Dr. Peter Huff in the Religious Studies department. Dr. Smith also sat for many years on the Advisory Board for the Christian Leadership Center at Centenary and during the summer of 2012 he taught a five week seminar sponsored by CLC titled, "The Mormon Moment: a Look at What Sets the Latter-day Saints Apart."

In 2018 he was called to serve a 10-year term as the Shreveport Louisiana Stake President (ordained ecclesiastical leader over 11 churches throughout the Ark-La-Tex) in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife Luisa have been married since 1990 and have two children, Kayla and Nathan.

Michael Garvin is a  world class songwriter, guitarist and trumpeter, hailing from Shreveport, Louisiana.  Garvin's first success came as a songwriter.  He is widely known penning the global #1 hit, "Waiting for Tonight", recorded by Jennifer Lopez, and the worldwide, multi-platinum "Never Give Up on a Good Thing" for George Benson.

At 18, Michael moved to Nashville, TN, and lived his first year there as a ‘starving artist’ with his wife, Liv, before landing his first songwriting deal with Blake Melvis at ABC Dunhill.  Michael credits Blake with not only being the first to see his potential as a songwriter, but also as a lead guitarist. At the age of 19, he wrote his first Top 5 record there, “If the World Ran Out of Love Tonight”, recorded by Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius, also recorded by England Dan and John Ford Coley to become a Top 40 U S Pop Hit. You might think it was easy sailing from there on out.  “Absolutely not,” Michael laughs,”It’s been a roller coaster ride, but looking back, I’ve enjoyed every moment of the struggle, it’s made me who I am”.

Another defining  moment for the arc of Michael’s career, was landing a UK publishing deal with Torquil Creevy and Miles Copeland, who’s work with Sting and The Police, opened doors to Europe and the rest of the world to him. Ever since then, the world has been Michael’s territory.

Working in multiple countries and genres, Garvin’s MO is to bring elements from one music style to another, always keeping what he delivers fresh and exciting.  Its earned him a total of 33 top ten hits so far, of which 23 hit Number One on the charts.

Garvin now brings the same hit making skills and passion that make him a star songwriter to being an instrumental recording artist, bringing all his skills together, as a composer, a player, and a producer.  He has already released five singles with significant chart activity in Smooth Jazz and Groove Jazz, including “Vibe Taxi” and his holiday special, “Do You Hear What I Hear?”. His latest release, “Just in Time”, is available now.

Learn more about Michael Garvin's career at