Special Voices came into being because of the combined volunteer talents of individuals uniquely qualified to create and develop Special Voices into an exhilarating interactive music/performance video and live concert experience for young performers with special needs.
What follows is a brief summary of qualifications of each of the volunteers whose collective expertise created the strong foundation for Special Voices, and continues to provide for the sustainability and planned growth of Special Voices.
The Creators: Carl Seeger Henry and Jean Pittsinger Henry
Carl Seeger Henry has a Bachelor of Science degree in English from CentralConnecticutStateUniversity, with a minor in Music and a concentrate in Theater. He is an educator, and has been a music professional and creative artist since 1966. As a soloist and band leader, he entertained, as lead vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, at clubs, colleges, schools, civic and private events. He has led and starred in numerous musical shows, covering a wide range of styles, and his experience includes over twenty years as Children’s Entertainer ‘Cowboy Carl’. Carl has composed and published over 90 original songs, and has recorded and released six albums of original music. In varying capacities, he has produced composed, arranged, and audio engineered commercial recordings for more than thirty artists.Carl has been President of Reel Dreams Inc., an intellectual properties and media production company since 1979. As a Pro Se inventor, he has executed four patent applications. He has conducted market research, designed packaging, directed publicity campaigns and marketed nine innovative products.
Jean Pittsinger Henry, Carl’s wife, is also an educator. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from CentralConnecticutStateUniversity, with a minor in Music and a concentrate in Teaching Reading. She has a background in sales and marketing, and employed and trained hundreds of teen-aged students for her sales organization.
Together with Carl, she has raised two daughters, Deanna and Pamela, who has mental retardation. They have taken a deeply involved role in Pamela’s education and socialization. During that process they have been actively involved in the world of educational and recreational programs for children with Special Needs.
The Production Team
Frank Barton, Director, Assistant Director, Producer, Assistant Producer, Videographer, Editor
Frank graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Broadcasting Communication Arts, Los Angeles City College, Radio and Television Broadcasting, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences -- Television Production Internship with experience at NBC, Burbank, CA. Frank brings more than 30 years' experience writing, producing and directing video programs, theatrical shows, multi-image and live direct broadcast television presentations. He is currently the staff producer/director at the University of Connecticut Health Center. In that capacity he produced, directed and edited a Silver Award winning informational and educational video program, entitled “Life with Down Syndrome” which aired on local Connecticut Public Television Network. Additionally, Frank brings much more to Special Voices project than just his impressive, extensive professional credentials. He processes a gentle, calming, compassionate demeanor that allows him to successfully interact with Special Voices performers.
Al Babyok: Music Production - arranging, performing, recording, and editing music
Al has an engineering degree from UCONN and has been involved with digital recording since 1993 as a software developer, and recording engineer. His computer skills combined with his musical knowledge allow him to employ the latest technology in the recording industry with proficiency, and an ear for the final product. Al has 32 years of professional experience performing music, with extensive experience in Nashville, performing with some of the finest musicians in the world. He has performed on several tours, in 9 countries, including the 2004 Toby Keith tour. More recently, he has performed several shows with members of Elvis' band including The Jordanaires, The Sweet Inspirations, and D.J. Fontana. He has produced music, arranging and playing all instruments, for several internationally distributed albums by Italian diva Romina Arena and one soon to be released by Steve Brook from Spain. Al was given total control of music production for Special Voices. From his studio in Nashville, he arranged the songs, played all the instruments, then recorded and mixed all the tracks. His impeccable ear was used to great advantage with his ability to study the original hit records covered by Special Voices and faithfully duplicate the arrangement and sounds. Al created every instrumental sound heard on the finished master with the exception of our guest soloists,
“Mighty Martin” Piggot on lead guitar,
“Blazin’ Bill” Holloman on Sax
and our Special Voices singer,
“Terrific Terrance” Shider, on keyboard.
Paula Fernandez: Conductor
At age thirteen, Paula began volunteering to help children with Cerebral Palsy. After graduating from BostonUniversity with a degree in Psychology, she began her teaching career in 1978 and continues as a Special Educator at RiverStreetSchool in Windsor, CT. She has spent more than a decade there as choir director and encouraged and led several of her students in The Special Voices audition process. A number of those students eventually were chosen to be Special Voices Back-up Singers.
The Technical Crew
Each member of the technical crew was chosen not only for their education and technical experience, but because of their demonstrated ability and experience working with children with special needs.
Videographers: Bill Bradford, Mike Tillotson, Gary Iannicelli, Jeremy Bradford, Craig Naumec. Loc Down
Audio engineers: Steve Wytas, Mike Ryan, Al Babyok, Bill Hudak
Make-up artists: Steve DelGizzo, Kelly Parker, Kat Pearce, Linda McGovern
Graphic artists: Nancy Coatta, Janine Gelineau
Production assistants: Doris Silk and Lillian Brabner
Video editors: Josh Lieberman, Frank Barton
Special Thanks to Tom Mcdermitt and Northeast Utilities for allowing Special Voices Use of their Auditorium for our concert shoot.
The On-Air Talent
Steve Parker: a.k.a. Parker Stevens, Comedic Emcee
Parker has a broadcast career spanning thirty years.He is unflappable in live performance situations and remarkably in tune with special needs kids. Steve is responsible for planting the seed that eventually blossomed into Special Voices. He is currently with WTNH News Channel 8 in Connecticut. Steve created a comfortable atmosphere during rehearsals and in the process, kept the children relaxed and focused. He developed non violent slapstick, food humor and a self deprecating silliness that combined to make the children adore him.
Steve Roslonek: aka SteveSongs www.stevesongs.com, is the male lead singer.
Steve has been writing and performing his award-winning music for kids and families for the past ten years. Steve blends participatory songs, clever stories and great melodies to create what the Boston Globe called “not just a musical journey but an entertaining, interactive and educational one”. A rising star on the national kids' music scene, Steve has delighted audiences throughout the country, including at prestigious venues like Symphony Space in New York City, Wolftrap in Vienna, VA, the KennedyCenter and the White House in Washington, D.C., and FenwayPark in Boston. Anyone who’s attended a SteveSongs concert appreciates Steve’s ability to connect with his audience – from the exuberant children flocking towards the stage, to the moms bouncing babies with the beat, to the parents and grandparents singing and grooving along. It’s no wonder he's been called a modern day Pied Piper!
Steve takes on the exciting new role of ‘Mr. Steve’, co-host of the PBS KIDS Preschool Destination that features the popular shows Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Dragon Tales, and Super Why. Steve’s much awaited ‘Marvelous Musical Adventure’ DVD was released by Rounder/PBS in August 2008.
Mary Kate Cieri: female lead singer
Mary Kate graduated with a degree in Communications from CentralConnecticutStateUniversity.She earned a Masters in Special Education from University of Hartford. She is currently employed as educator of children with special needs in the Hartford, CT school system. Her resume includes four years of service as a Special Educator at RiverStreetSchool in Windsor, CT. River Street is one of Connecticut’s leading educational institutions that provide programs for students ages 3-21 who have behavioral, communicative and neurological disorders. While there, she was involved in numerous musical productions with the students. Mary Kate also has more than a decade of experience fronting a wide variety of bands in various formats.She is currentlyfronting her own band, The Blue Cherry Band, writing and performing original music as well as fun, classic covers.
The Special Voices Singers
After a period of auditions, Special Voices chose nine children to cast as Special Voices Singers. Special Voices sought to assemble a group that represented diversity in the special needs community and performers that we thought could meld together into and exciting performance unit.
Terrance Shider, Michele Kuener, Monique Pollard, Jamar Cherry, Brian Langeway, Christine Scerra,Tim Koshak, Pam Henry and
“Special Sibling”, Deanna Troy Henry became our stars.
Our Special Voices Singers bring unbridled enthusiasm to their performances. That, plus their infectious delight combine to make them inspiring role models for all of their peers with special needs who will witness their musical passion, and be inspired to emulate them.
Our Legal Advisors:
Special thanks to the New York Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the following organizations who have donated pro bono legal services to Special Voices:
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP Czepiga & Daly LLC Banc of America Securities, LLC
(Bank of America is not a law firm and is not legal counsel to Special Voices)
Organizing Our Business:
Mr. Patrick J. McMahon, C.P.A. is providing his pro bono expertise as we construct our non profit corporate organization.He is with thefirm Fulco, Ditommaso, McMahon & Co., P.C. of Newington, CT.
The Peer Advisor Network:
Special Voices has formed an Advisory Committee whose goals are the creation of a non-profit corporation, development of an industry model and business plan. Through funding available from Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, Special Voices approached the Commission for assistance from their Peer Advisor Network to support it’s Advisory Committee to: create documents to apply to be a non-profit corporation, develop an industry model and a business plan. The Commission offered the services of Judith Mortensen, a Peer Advisor with extensive experience developing and managing programs for people with special needs. Judith is the owner, of Wellspring Holistic Services, LLC, is a program management consultant and teaching artist. With over thirty years experience in education and project management, she has initiated arts and education programs in corporations, schools, hospitals, retreat and holistic centers. Judith provides skills in communication, project and business management to those beginning or enhancing an organization or project. She consults for local arts organizations, and has presented nationally on the benefits of the arts in healing. Judith developed ArtReach at Connecticut Children’s MedicalCenter and manages Young Audiences Arts for Learning Connecticut’s VSA arts Program which focuses on arts programs and professional development inclusive of children and adults with disabilities. She holds a BA in Math and Education from ElmsCollege, a Certificate in Expressive Arts Facilitation from SalveReginaUniversity, a Certificate in Human Resource Management from Saint JosephCollege, and a National Professional in Human Resources Certification from the Society for Human Resource Management. She has been a Peer Advisor for the Commission on Culture & Tourism since 2007.
Special Voices Advisory Committee: Current members include:
Carl Seeger Henry and Jean Pittsinger Henry (See Creators information above)
Frank Barton (See Production Team information above)
Mary Kate Cieri (See On-Air Talent above)
Judith Mortensen (See Peer Advisor Network above)
Bill DeMaio: Bill has a BS in community relations from SpringfieldCollege, Springfield, MA and 9 Mater Credits in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is superintendent of the New Britain, CT, Park and Recreation Department, and is a nationally recognized figure in the Park and Recreation Industry. Bill advises Special Voices and helps fashion Special Voices as a program for civic park and recreation departments. Special Voices will help fill a glaring need in that industry for programs that serve children with special needs. Bill has been the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) city coordinator for New Britain, Ct, for over eight years. He has been a member and chairperson of the Newington Senior and Disabled Commission for over 18 years. Bill is a member of the BESB (State of CT Board of Education Services for the Blind) state of CT Board of Directors. All his life he has been advocating, programming, integrating, helping and defending people with disabilities. Mr. DeMaio is legally blind and has lived the life of a person with disabilities. He has organized numerous programs for people of all ages with disabilities. Mr. DeMaio’s combination of experience, training and passion enables him to be a successful contributor to the Special Voices organization.
Bill Pere: Bill is the founder and executive director of LUNCH, a non-profit organization which uses the power of popular music to produce positive social action, carrying on the legacy of Harry Chapin. LUNCH raises awareness and funds for agencies providing human services by producing concerts and stage plays, involving children in the process to show them they can make a difference in the lives of others. Bill is also President and Executive Director, CT Songwriters Association; IMC Indie Artist of the Year '03; An Official Connecticut State Troubadour since '95; Director, CT Songwriting Academy.
● Produced concerts and stage plays involving more than 2500 kids over a 20 year span ● Founded and runs a non-profit using music to give kids opportunities to perform to raise money for supporting human services, raising almost $1,000,000. ● As an Official Connecticut State Troubadour, been commissioned to write songs for many specific purposes and groups, including the Special Olympics. ● As a founding member of the Connecticut Songwriters Association, been involved with writing by-laws and obtaining tax-exempt status.
We are pleased to welcome a new addition to our brain trust and have added Lynn Pittsinger to our advisory committee. Lynn is an accomplished and respected leader in the Pediatric Nursing field. She is currently at Children’s Hospital Boston where she is a leader in management and education. Her previous assignments were at Children’s MedicalCenter, Dallas and Connecticut Children’s MedicalCenter. She maintains close ties to those hospitals. She enthusiastically feels that the Special Voices experience will be a fabulous and uplifting addition to the lives of hospitalized children. We had been contemplating hospitals as a possible venue for new Special Voices groups to perform after they have given their community concerts. A follow up hospital performance will be a splashy introduction to and inspiring show for the patients. If the interest is there, we can then supply, through the staff therapeutic recreation directors, our materials and program. The patients can then periodically learn and perform their own shows.
Our Special Team
Special Voices exists today because of the exceptionally unique and distinctive skills, talents and abilities of the volunteers that have joined to give birth to a novel educational and social program that will offer children with special needs:
* A comprehensive, multi-leveled learning and social experience.
* A challenge that allows them the satisfaction of success.