Meet the Instructor

Vocalist, violinist, entrepreneur, and teacher Tona Brown has an international performance career throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe as a violinist and mezzo-soprano. Ms. Brown is also an advocate for transgender issues in the arts, often speaking and performing at colleges and universities. She is the first transgender woman of color to perform the National Anthem for a sitting President at the LGBT Leadership Gala Dinner for former President Barack Obama at the Sheraton in NYC. She is also the first transgender woman to headline at Carnegie Hall in a program of African-American composers with an all-inclusive LGBT cast of performers. 

Folks are still talking about your visit and master class in excited and glowing terms. They just loved hearing your story, lapped up your career advice, and were warmed by your enthusiastic and supportive teaching. "Inspiring" is a word I've heard over and over. And as a teacher, I always love reinforcement from different voices of the idea of singing with the entire body! Thank you for bringing such a lovely energy to UNCSA. There's your pull quote! But I also wanted to say your visit started an interesting conversation about the ratio of skill development to marketing energy these folks should invest in while they are students. I felt it important afterwards to bump up the status of people who "just" get chorus and cruise ship jobs. Even though I might not know all of their names, the skill level and talent of singers making a full time living in these situations are to be envied, and these may be just the goals some of our students have. I have no doubt you agree: we have to keep including the artists who are a little more reserved, maybe even introverted. We need these folks so much for balance in a branded world!

Phyllis Pancella ~ UNCSA

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