Carole Blankenship, soprano

[B.A., Rhodes College; M.M., D.M.A., University of Memphis]
Carole Choate Blankenship, soprano, is Associate Professor of Music at Rhodes College. She is heard regularly in recitals, chamber music concerts, and oratorio performances. Dr. Blankenship has performed solo recitals in Marktoberdorf, Germany; The Cell Theatre, New York, New York; The University of California, Santa Cruz; The University of the Pacific; The University of Delaware; The University of Texas, San Antonio, and at The Foundling Museum, London, summer 2011. In October 2010, she presented a paper for the International Paul Bowles Conference at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. Together with Irene Herrmann she co-edited Three Songs from the Sierras by Paul Bowles for Classical Vocal Reprints. Dr. Blankenship has led voice masterclasses in Melbourne, Australia, at Middle Tennessee State University, Wheaton Conservatory, and Western Kentucky University. She received the D. M. A. from the University of Memphis where she also received the Graduate Document Award. Dr. Blankenship continues her research in American song; particularly the songs created under the direction of the Federal Music Project 1935-1940, New York and recently presented that work for the Society of American Music National Conference 2013. In July she will present a lecture recital featuring Paul Bowles’s songs for the International Congress of Voice Teachers 2013, Brisbane, Australia. Dr. Blankenship currently serves as Vice President of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Artist Awards.


Joyce Cobb, jazz vocalist

Born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and reared in Nashville, Joyce Cobb first sang in her grandmother’s church. At an early age the influence of music was present in her home environment. Both parents were avid music lovers, with an emphasis on Jazz.

Joyce’s career spans from live orchestrations for Nashville’s WSM radio and television stations, to live performances in Europe.  She landed a record deal with a subsidiary of Stax Records just before the label folded, but continued her recording career with West Coast-based Cream Records.  Under the direction of Wayne Crook of Shoe Productions, she wrote, sang, and performed the single "Dig the Gold" that earned her a NO.42 spot in Billboard Magazine. Maestro Alan Balter, conductor of the Memphis Symphony, heard her sing at the Peabody Hotel in 1990 and Cobb has since been invited to perform with the symphony on numerous occasions.

Ms. Cobb can be heard every Tuesday from 2:00PM until 4:00PM on WEVL FM90 (Memphis), with her show “Voices,” which features a variety of vocalisms and personal interviews.  Every Wednesday night from 8:00PM until 10:00PM she hosts “Songs for My Father,” a program that shares a collection of jazz music.

Joyce also travels from the East Coast to the West Coast with the Beale Street Jazz Band performing at traditional jazz festivals.  Joyce has been featured on numerous CDs with other artists and is currently writing and producing her own CD.


Sandra Franks, soprano

[B.M., University of Mississippi; M.M., Louisiana State University; D.M.A., University of Mississippi]
Dr. Sandra Franks, soprano, is heard regularly in recitals, chamber music concerts and choral works in the Mid-South area. As a soloist, she has performed with Opera Memphis, the Oxford Community Chorus, the Memphis Vocal Arts Ensemble, the Rhodes MasterSingers Chorale and as a recitalist with the Memphis Chamber Music Society. Her operatic roles include Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Laetitia in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, Susannah in Floyd’s Susannah and Diana in Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers. Mozart roles include Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte.
    As a Singing Voice Specialist and Vocal Pedagogue, Sandra specializes in the care of the professional voice. She maintains a private voice studio of students with diverse musical styles, assists in diagnosis of voice patients referred by several physicians in the area, and directs research projects, seminars and masterclasses throughout the Southeast. On several occasions, she has been on the faculty and presented research projects at The Voice Foundation’s Symposium on the Care of the Professional Voice. Dr. Franks is also a contributor to the book, The Larynx, edited by Robert H. Ossoff.
   Dr. Franks has been on the faculty of the University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, where her responsibilities included teaching voice and undergraduate and graduate vocal pedagogy. She is currently Adjunct Professor of Voice at Rhodes College and currently serves as the Treasurer for the Memphis Chapter of NATS. Dr. Franks is also the coordinator of Children’s choir program at Germantown Presbyterian Church. She spends a portion of each summer working with young singers in the Opera Memphis Opera Conservatory program.



Matthew Hayner, baritone

[B.M., Bowling Green State University; M.M., University of Memphis]
Originally from Buffalo, NY, baritone Matthew Hayner recently received a Master of Music degree from The University of Memphis, where he continues to study with Mr. Evan Jones. He received his Bachelor’s degrees from Bowling Green State University in Music Education and Performance. Mr. Hayner has a particular interest in German Lieder and studied at the Franz Schubert Institut in Baden, Austria. He was fortunate to learn from esteemed artists such as Elly Ameling, Robert Holl, Helmut Deutsch, Julius Drake, Wolfram Rieger, Rudolf Piernay, and Edith Wiens.

His operatic repertoire includes roles from Tartuffe, Idomeneo, The Old Maid and the Thief, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Don Quichotte auf der Hochzeit des Comacho, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, and the North American premiere of Cavalli’s La virtù de′ Strali d′Amore at Eastman School of Music. He also performs regularly with the Memphis Symphony and Rhodes College Mastersingers--most recently in Bach’s B Minor Mass, Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, and Handel’s Israel in Egypt.

Mr. Hayner is Director of Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Holly Springs, MS and a private voice instructor at Lausanne Collegiate School in East Memphis.


Paul Murray, bass-baritone

[B.A., Rhodes College; M.M., San Francisco Conservatory of Music]
Bass-baritone Paul Murray has established himself as a respected opera and oratorio singer, lauded for his rich timbre and dramatic acumen. He received his Master′s degree in 2005 from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and was awarded a Post-Graduate Fellowship in 2006. Since completion of his degrees, Murray has performed many main stage roles with companies such as Opera San Jose, West Edge Opera (Berkeley Opera), Livermore Valley Opera, and Opera Bangkok.

Equally comfortable on the concert stage, Murray has appeared with the Silicon Valley Symphony, the San Francisco Bach Choir, the San Jose Symphonic Choir, Chora Nova, and the Santa Rosa Symphony Symphony.

A true believer in the power of singing to heal and balance a life, Murray has devoted much time to teaching. At Santa Clara University, he taught private lessons, singing for beginners, opera workshops and lyric diction, and has also taught at the Reeder Music Academy in Danville, California.