Meet the Teachers and Staff


Sam WhitehouseSamantha Whitehouse:
Owner, Voice Coach

Sam trained privately for many years in contemporary singing at a voice instruction and recording studio in Boston. She also studied performance, recording and music business there. After several years as a student, she was hired to manage the studio’s voice department. She began researching and teaching voice privately in 2007. She continues to enhance her techniques through work with a private voice and piano coach, as well as attending classes in acting, music theory and musical theatre. She thoroughly enjoys helping others explore their own capacity for singing and to find their own voice, as well as creating opportunities for all singers to perform and participate in music at all levels of experience.

Sam has enjoyed performing ever since her first living room variety show as a little girl. Prior to moving to San Francisco, she performed in a diverse array of bands throughout the Boston area and upstate New York. In addition to voice coaching and running OpenVoice Studios, she continues to write music and perform locally.

Sam’s musical influences range include Sarah Bareilles, Melody Gardot, Etta James, Ani DiFranco, Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, Gwen Stefani, Sade, Norah Jones, Mary J. Blige, P!nk, Erykah Badu and many more.

 

Molly KozmaMolly Kozma:
Head Voice Coach

Molly began dancing and singing when she was a toddler, and hasn’t slowed down since. Her love for Tap and Jazz dance opened her eyes to Musical Theater, which led quickly to Jazz, R&B, and Pop music. She studied Musical Theater at Young Performers Theatre Arts Academy here in San Francisco as a teenager, and went on to study at Blue Bear School of Music, and most recently studied privately with Katie Guthorn. While earning her degree in Dance at Oberlin College, Molly sang with the female a cappella group Nothing But Treble, and was a featured soloist with The Obertones. She had the honor of working with vocal coach Rona Leslie in New York City, where she pursued her Broadway dreams and recorded her first contemporary solo demo. After a few years as a backup singer in Nashville, she made her way back home to San Francisco, and is thrilled and inspired to be a part of OpenVoice Studios!

Molly’s musical influences include Aretha Franklin, Rickie Lee Jones, Sarah Vaughan, Patty Griffin, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, Whitney Houston, Allison Moorer, Jill Scott, and so many more!

In addition to teaching, Molly will be contributing to the overall growth and function of the business, from accounting and scheduling to streamlining the way information is coordinated across all studios, and handling about a billion other things so that the business runs smoothly.

 

Jasmine Pritchard: Voice Coach, San FranciscoJasmine Pritchard:
Voice Coach & Community Organizer

Music has always been part of Jasmine’s life, and she has been singing since she was 5 years old. She grew up listening to musical theater and old 50’s and 60’s tunes, then developed her own tastes in pop, R&B and more recently, folk and bluegrass. She considers her favorites to range from Elvis and Neil Sedaka to Adele, Mariah Carey, Bon Iver and even Tupac. She has dabbled with many instruments, including the violin, cello, guitar, and flute, but is most comfortable on the keyboard. She has performed musical theater since high school in the Philippines, and participated in theater showcases in Berkeley, San Mateo, and San Francisco since moving to the Bay Area in 2009.

When she is not herself performing, Jasmine is very active behind the scenes in the local music industry. She works for 5 local musicians, a live music production company and manages an island rock band named SAGE. She has always considered herself a people person and is happiest when she is helping others realize their passion, whether it be in music, poetry, acting or the fine arts. Her favorite quote comes from Eleanor Roosevelt, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

 

Amy Obenski:
Voice Coach

Amy has been writing, performing and recording her own songs for ten solid years.  She has  released four albums, toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, and has had a song placed on the TV Show, Grey’s Anatomy.

Her musical experience began at age five, when she began singing in her elementary school choir.  She continued studying voice and music intensively throughout her youth and into her adult life.  After college she began writing songs and performing, eventually becoming what is now a fruitful career as a singer-songwriter.

Though voice is her main passion, Amy also has many other musical talents, including classical piano, acoustic guitar, and audio engineering.  Amy is excited to bring her diverse experience to OpenVoice Studios.  Her basic singing philosophy is to “just relax, breath, and let your natural voice flow!”

 

Katie Meehan

Katie Meehan:
Voice Coach

Katie started singing with her mom, brother and sisters at the age of four.  Since then, she has always been involved in anything music based.  In elementary through high school Katie learned the flute, alto sax, and tenor sax, but her main passion was singing.  Katie is from Boston MA.  There, she studied voice with Jose Delgado.  She graduated from Salem State University with a BA in theatre performance and a minor in music. After college Katie lived in NYC for six years where she studied with Kate Pazakis.

Currently, Katie is getting her MFA in acting at the Academy of Art University.  She is thrilled to be a part of OpenVoice studios.  Some of her music influences include Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Ben Harper, Brett Dennen, Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, The Beatles, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis, Lou Reed and many more!

 

Tracey Holland

Tracey Holland:
Voice Coach

Tracey Holland has been singing, performing, and studying voice for 17 years. She was fascinated by music from a very early age, hearing tales of show business from her grandmother- a singer, dancer, and actress herself (and one-time Bette Davis protégé!)- and singing harmonies around the house. Her early years as a singer were spent in choirs, and when she was 17 she moved from Los Angeles to Boston, MA to study at Berklee Collee of Music. “A large part of my decision to go to Berklee was actually motivated by a crippling performance anxiety that I had- ironically- always dealt with. I had always been a performer as a singer and a dancer and was no stranger to the stage, but had always had a group of voices to hide behind. I knew that if I was going to grow as a musician, I had to face those fears head-on,” she says. Being thrown into the deep end, so to speak, was a turning point for her in her commitment to a creative life. She eventually left Berklee to study at Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, where she earned an Associate of Arts degree in Music/Vocal Performance in 2006.

Since then, Tracey has written for and fronted two of her own bands, and contributed vocals and collaborated with various other musicians, in addition to teaching voice. Specializing in a wide range of styles- from rock, pop, folk, country, R&B, soul, Americana, and blues- and performance/performance anxiety, Tracey’s philosophy as a voice instructor is to take the mystery out of the voice, help students understand their instrument, and ultimately find their own unique sound. Currently, Tracey fronts and plays percussion in Vandella, a rock/Americana/soul band that is heavily ensconced in the San Francisco local indie scene. As acting band manager and one-half of the songwriting duo of Vandella, she has toured the West Coast several times and put out two releases with the band- an EP, V, in 2009, and a fulllength album Fire in the Desert, in 2012. With a third release and more tours on the docket, she has a unique perspective on what it takes to be a frontwoman and songwriter, and how to lead a band in the indie/DIY-landscape of the music business today. As a teacher, Tracey pulls from all aspects of her background as a singer and musician to offer a dynamic and multi-faceted approach to vocal coaching.

 

Jefferson Bergey

Jefferson Bergey:
Voice Coach

Whether it’s Motown-inspired acoustic soul, dirty groove-laden pop, barroom blues, or classic crooning, Chicago-native Jefferson’s Bergey’s multi-genred, sometimes theatrical style can be described as walking a thin line between softly-rocking and hardly-folking. He was trained classically at the University of Iowa yet has been applying and improving his technique ever since with any style of music that his head, heart, and larynx allows.

Along with occasional episodes of his whimsical web series (Bergey and the Buddha) he splits his time singing weddings and corporate events (Suite Love Express and Lucky Devils Band) and as the voice of Gregg Allman in Freestone Peaches. He’s also volunteered and performed at the Special Olympics Summer Games in Long Beach, The John Steinbeck Association in Monterey, and has played numerous private acoustic shows at the Facebook compound in Palo Alto. As a solo act and with various groups he’s shared the stage or opened for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, JJ Grey’s Mofro, Bob Schneider, Ari Hest, New Monsoon, amongst numerous other national touring artists.

You can find him on facebook, twitter, bandcamp, itunes, youtube, spotify or anywhere else the wizards of Google might direct you. He’s thrilled to be joining the teaching staff at OpenVoice Studios!

 

Yonat Mayer

Yonat Mayer:
Voice Coach

Daughter of a blues & jazz guitarist and an avid music fan, the lullabies of Yonat’s infancy were Albert Collins and Coltrane. The metallic smell of her dad’s fender guitar amp stayed with Yonat into early childhood, when she would sing Love Potion No 9 to a rapt crowd with his band in the bars of Tel Aviv and Milwaukee. Grade school saw her singing lead parts in her Jewish school choir and performing in professional theatre companies around Milwaukee. Soon Yonat woke to Aretha Franklin, Carole King & Sheryl Crow. She spent her teenage years listening to Lauryn Hill and Dinah Washington on repeat, mimicking their every inflection.

After being rejected from the Israeli army band auditions she enlisted and served a tiresome 2 years as a soldier during the revival of Israeli spiritual folk music and found a close role model in Israel’s leading folk singer, David Broza, who kept rooting for her to follow her dreams. Back in civilian clothes, she enrolled at Rimon, Israel’s leading contemporary music school where she was turned off by the humdrum of music theory and Israeli pop culture songwriting. She soon fled to India to deepen studies in Indian spirituality and Hindustani Classical Vocal music, as well as a long, sordid love affair that helped her hone her skill in writing heartbreak songs.

Yonat returned to the US in 2008 and moved to San Francisco to pursue a masters degree in body-centered psychotherapy. At the time of graduation her father’s health deteriorated and she took this turn of events as the driving force behind putting her psychology career on hold in pursuit of her number one passion – music.

Performing around the Bay Area since 2011 with her band Yonat & Her Muse – a folk-soul ensemble reminiscent of Norah Jones meets Adele – the band has shared the stage with artists such as post rock musician Fink and singer-songwriter Foy Vance as well as TEDx Berkeley in February of 2014.

Holding Yonat’s songs together at the core is always an intrinsic message of self-experience, reflection, and empowerment. Her self-released EP ‘Daybreak’ produced by Jordan Feinstein and Robin Applewood dropped in August 2013.

 

Rachel Austin

Rachel Austin:
Voice Coach

To sing is to experiment with your own sense of expression. Everyone has their own unique take on life and the voice is therefore an extension of who we are. 

With this in mind, Rachel Austin is an experimental songwriter, vocalist, and accomplished performer, having toured throughout Europe and parts of the US. She is also a passionate singing teacher. In her own work, she has been artist in residence at various European festivals and collaborated with some Europe’s finest improvisers. Her songwriting draws on jazz, Americana, and folk influences, using loops, junky guitars, and second hand stories to create an evocative sound world.

She has worked with all sorts of singers in her teaching, and was Voice and Performance Instructor at the Sonic Arts Research Centre in Belfast. She studied voice during her time living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, including vocal performance and anatomy of the voice. With over 10 years of teaching experience, Rachel takes a fun and creative approach to teaching, taking you where you want to go and nurturing a sense of how to singing healthily at the same time.

Originally from Virginia, she is currently studying Electronic Composition at Mills College.

 

Alegria Garcia

Alegria Garcia:
Student Relationship Coordinator

Alegria is thrilled to be a part of the OpenVoice team. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, she grew up listening to Salsa, Tejano, R&B, and Rock.  She firmly believes that music is a mood elevator and hearing your favorite song can always brighten up your day. She studied theater in college and received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence in Creative Writing (Fiction). She’s worked as a college instructor, teacher trainer, and arts administrator for schools such as Academy of Art University and San Francisco Art Institute.

She is also a student at OpenVoice and is enjoying learning and stretching herself creatively. A few of her favorite artists include: Nina Simone, Lila Downs, Tori Amos, Nick Drake, Celine Dion, Juanes,  and Lana Del Rey.  She loves Rock en Espanol and is also a huge 90’s music nerd.

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