Mary Anne Sims is an educator and musician with over twenty-five years experience in the classroom, including thirteen as a vocal music instructor in the Des Moines public schools. She received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Iowa and her Master of Arts in Music Education from the Ohio State University, where her thesis developed pedagogy for English language-learners in the music classroom. While in pursuit of her Master’s degree, she sang and soloed in The Ohio State University’s Gospel Choir “Inspirational Voices,” and studied urban music education under Dr. Jan Edwards. She has taught at every grade level, with experience in urban, rural and suburban general music and choral programs, including leading the highly successful Des Moines Roosevelt Varsity Show Choir and receiving ten consecutive Highly Superior state ratings for her Women’s Ensemble. She has also served as a mentor and consultant to programs across the country, working with Gospel and youth choirs of all ages. She is a successful choral arranger, having written commissions for several schools in Iowa, as well as community organizations such as the World Food Prize, and is also an accomplished pianist and accompanist. She serves as an adjudicator during show choir season, and loves to work with young performers.
Napoleon Douglas is a traveling Actor, Choreographer, and Teaching Artist who received a BA in Theatre Arts from Drake University. The Roosevelt High School Alumnus (’10) has been very involved in the Des Moines Area Arts Community throughout the years. While at Drake, Napoleon studied with Leanne Freeman-Miller and Christine Fortner-Blanner and worked under the direction of Aimee Beckmann-Collier in the prestigious Drake and Chamber Choirs. He received a Master in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. Since graduation he has worked extensively in music theater, as a member of the Resident Artist Company at Midtown Arts Center in Ft. Collins, CO and as a Teaching Artist at The Denver Center for the Performing Arts in Denver, CO. His notable credits include Jimmy Early in Dreamgirls (Playhouse on the Square), Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in A Christmas Carol (Denver Center Theatre Company), Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and T.J. in Sister Act (Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities), Seaweed Stubbs in Hairspray (Rising Star Theatre Co and Playhouse on the Square), Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd (MAC), Jud Fry in Oklahoma, (MAC), Franco in Superior Donuts (StageWest). He will play the Simba track in Festival of the Lion King (Hong Kong Disneyland) commencing in September 2018. Institutionally, Napoleon has worked for various non-profit organizations as a consultant and assistant in arts administrative departments, including City Voices. Napoleon is also a former member of the renowned Isiserettes Drill and Drum Corps, who performed for both Inauguration Parades for President Barack Obama and was the national representative at the Afro-Academic, Cultural and Technological Olympics (Vocal Music: Classical, Oratory and Dance).
Amanda Lowe is an ’08 graduate of Roosevelt High School, where she won the Superintendent’s Award for vocal music. Amanda continued her music education at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN with the support of a vocal performance scholarship. She received her Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy and finished her music therapy internship at Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas. She has studied under Janet Fried, Sonya Thompson, and the choir director Peter Hendrickson. Amanda was the recipient of Augsburg’s prestigious Hognander Scholarship her senior year. She has soloed with numerous choirs and studied at the Wesley Balk Opera Institute workshop.
Sarah Jorgenson has been teaching voice both privately and in the collegiate setting for nearly 20 years. Before landing in Iowa, Sarah began her musical journey by graduating with a classical voice performance degree and extensive master’s pedagogy classes from the University of NE- Lincoln. She has won many vocal competitions including the Soli Deo Gloria Voice Competition and has been selected as the soprano soloist to perform with multiple orchestras including the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra and the New York Symphonia. She can be heard on the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album singing with Johnny Mathis. Deciding that musical theatre was an exciting change from the classical voice and opera she had studied for so long, she moved to NYC. Sarah has performed lead roles in numerous operas and theaters regionally. As an equity actor in NYC, Sarah had the pleasure of joining performers such as John Groff and Michael Zygo in raising money and awareness by performing with Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS. After stopping in Des Moines while en route to Chicago for an audition, Sarah met her husband and decided to plant her roots permanently in Iowa. She is the founding director of Rising Stars Show Choir 4 Kids, a non-audition fully inclusive choir for children of all ages and abilities. She is now a professional blogger for the local chapter of the City Moms Blog group and often blogs about the most favorite role she’s ever had: being a mama to four amazing kiddos who keep her on her toes every minute of every day.
Norwalk, Iowa native, Sara Routh graduated from Simpson College with a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1999. After graduating, she joined the Des Moines Public Schools for two years as assistant teacher at Smouse Elementary. With the exciting world of musical theatre nipping at her heels, a coin toss determined Sara’s next move. On September 17, 2001, Sara set sail for Queens, NY. While in NYC, Sara studied theatre with the Artistic Director of the Circle Repertory Company, Tanya Berezin. For three years, she performed off, OFF-Broadway productions and continued honing her song-writing skills. After an up-hill battle with the auditioning process and coming to grips with the reality of her waning Broadway musical career, it was time to move on. Los Angeles was to be her new home. LA taught Sara the ropes of performing as a singer-songwriter. The ins and outs of Sunset Blvd. are tricky. She tirelessly hit the sidewalks promoting her original music and slowly, but surely, was accepted into the LA music scene. After four years of training her voice, putting a band together, booking & promoting gigs, winning and losing awards, writing, composing and touring, Sara packed her bags once again and took off to see the world. After seven months of traveling she landed in Shanghai, China where she found herself beginning again. A new language. A new people. A new job. A new sound. Sara taught at the Julia Gabriel Center for Learning*. Focusing on early childhood aged children, Sara lead four mommy & me-style classes for children ages 18mo-3yrs. She also co-lead three infant aged classes 6mo-18mo. With five after-school and weekend Edu-Drama classes, Sara kept herself busy. She also wrote/composed/directed two musicals and performed full-time in a band at night. After four years of living in Shanghai, China Sara decided it was time to return to America. In June of 2011, she made LA her home for a second time. By this time, she had so much LIFE under her proverbial belt, focusing on her solo/songwriting career was the only direction she turned to. In 2013, Sara released her debut album “Road(s)” which was recorded in Austin, Texas. She was awarded two nominations from the Los Angeles Critic Awards: the first for Best Female Artist, the second for Best New Album. In 2015 Sara won the LA Critic Award for Best E.P. – Female Artist for her newest released record, “Black Sheep.” After years of travel, trials, loss, heartache, patience and perseverance Sara, finally found comfort with her instruments. In March 2014, Sara returned to Des Moines, Iowa where her many adventures stemmed from. She comes to City Voices with a plethora of knowledge stuffed in her bag of tricks. Sara’s main goal when teaching with City Voices is to encourage each individual student to find their OWN comfort with the world of music. With force comes great resistance. With guidance comes great growth.
Natalie Simon (nee Lowe), Keyboard teacher, is a DMPS class of ’02 graduate and holds a B.S. in Professional Music in Voice from Berklee College of Music. She spent 9 years in New York City writing/singing/playing in Ellis Ashbrook and with other fellow graduates around the tri-state area to the tune of some 600 shows and countless rehearsals. Ultimately relocating to Des Moines in August of 2016 she now heads a local band of jazz-heads called LIGHTCUBE for which she writes and performs at local venues. She is also a band member of Annalibera and books jazz night at The Lift. She is happy to pass on any knowledge gained through years of live performance. She would like to remind you to practice. Whatever you want to do better, just practice.
Dartanyan Brown Bio coming soon
Larry Moore was born in San Leandro, CA, but is a product of the Des Moines Public Schools, having attended Rice, King and Perkins Elementary Schools, and Callanan Middle School before ultimately graduating from Roosevelt High School in 2005. He was heavily involved in music in his schools and the community, including membership in the Des Moines Children’s Choir as well as choirs at his church. At Roosevelt, he was a four-year member of the Show Choir program, including a stint as Co-President of Varsity Show Choir his senior year. He also was a three-time selection for the Iowa All-State Choir, and received I’s at State Contest for singing, musical theater and poetry. After high school, Larry received a BS in Psychology from Truman State University with a minor in Theater, but he was also very involved in the music scene: he recorded with the A Cappella group TrueMen and was part of the gospel ensemble OneVoice that wrote and recorded original music. Larry was also a contracted speaker and spoken word performer for the Multicultural Affairs Center at Truman and was a consistent place-winner in school poetry slams. He was an original teaching artist in Movement 515. He has also worked as a Teaching Artist with the Hip Hop Summer Music Camps sponsored by Des Moines Music Coalition and Des Moines Parks & Recreation. Larry holds a Masters of Education from Drake University with endorsements in English, Theater and Rhetoric.
Dang Felton, guitar teacher, is a multi-instrumentalist specializing in stringed instruments. As a story and songwriter with over 15 years of experience studying and performing music he loves to share his knowledge of how to make music into a fun hobby or even a lifestyle. With an understanding of the work that makes writing and performing music possible, including promotion, networking, booking, audio processing, and sound engineering, Dang is able to teach students how to turn their practice into achievements. He has been a featured performing artist in multiple Des Moines, IA magazines and television shows. His culturally proficient approach to teaching music allows students to learn very quickly with personally-tailored instrument exercises focusing on the techniques used in any of their favorite styles of music.