Chicago Personnel 2024

In Formation — More profiles to come!

This exchange (both the conference and the festival) continues the essential conversation on the art of cabaret among performers, teachers and coaches, writers and historians, and fans.

Cette échange poursuit l’essentiel de la conversation sur l’art du cabaret entre interprètes, enseignants et entraîneurs, écrivains et historiens, et fans.

Paulus, Ava Logan, Claudia Hommel, Mylène Launay, Barbara Smith, Jean-Claude Orfali,
Jeanne Franks, Mimei Sakamoto, Benjamin Legrand, Lynne Jordan, Michèle Barbier, Anne Fromm, Stefan Kukurugya, Mark & Anne Burnell, Lou Ella Rose, Jeanie Carroll, Maryline Rollet, Isabelle Georges

Workshop teachers and principal performers

Michèle began as actress and singer (Comédie Française, Festival d’Avignon, etc) but left everything for the circus in Sweden, Germany and her own company in France. She was discovered in Sweden by the legendary Josephine Baker who engaged her as personal secretary from 1969-1971. After thirty years, Michèle returned to theater, released three song albums, published novels, historical essays, theater and poems, and produced her one-woman-shows evoking the circus world and more recently her upbringing in Algeria. She has created events, often televised, such as the Gala de la Presse and Kréatika, the Festival of Authors-Composers-Performers. She was vice-president of the Alliance Francophone, taking her to many countries, most notably Japan. www.michele-barbier.comhe Alliance Francophone for which she has performed and traveled to many countries, including Japan.

Michèle, a commencé sa carrière comme actrice, chanteuse et auteur (Comédie Française, Festival d’Avignon, etc). Mais elle a tout quitté pour vivre dans le monde du cirque pendant trente ans, voyageant en Scandinavie, en Allemagne, puis dirigeant sa propre compagnie en France. En Suède, elle est découverte par la légendaire Joséphine Baker qui l’engage comme secrétaire personnelle de 1968 à 1971. Revenant au théâtre, à l’écriture et à la chanson, elle a sorti quatre albums, publié douze livres (romans, essais historiques, pièces de théâtre et poèmes) et produit et joué dans cinq pièces de théâtre, dont un one-woman-show inspiré du monde du cirque. Son dernier livre, Josephine Baker, les dernières années – La renaissance d’une étoile est paru aux Editions Riveneuve au début de l’année 2022. Originaire d’Algérie, elle a publié plusieurs ouvrages sur son pays natal . N’ayant jamais oublié la Guerre d’Algérie, elle présente en mars 2022 une nouvelle pièce de théâtre et publie un nouveau livre, consacrés à cette période qui l’a beaucoup marquée.
Elle a produit des événements télévisés, tels que le Gala de la Presse et Kréatika, le Festival des auteurs-compositeurs-interprètes. Elle est vice-présidente de l’Alliance Francophone pour laquelle elle s’est produite et a voyagé dans de nombreux pays, dont le Japon.

MicheleBarbier with microphone

Anne has performed for WDCB Jazz Salon, Jazz at the Logan, Chicago Humanities Festival, Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Convention, Metropolis, and the Auditorium Theatre. Along with her husband pianist/vocalist Mark Burnell, she has toured in Paris and Amsterdam, and has sung the national anthem for the Cubs, White Sox, Arlington International Race Track, and the Special Olympics. Recordings:Summer Days and Dreamy Nights,Blues in the Night, Serious, Little Things We Do Together. Shows include: Cry Me a River: the Music of Julie London with Mark Burnell, and guitarist Henry Johnson, The Brill Building Songwriters, Tales of Our Travels, Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.

Pianist and singer, Mark trained vocalists for ten years at Carnegie Mellon University, where he received his M.F.A. He has worked with Dave Frishberg, Connie Francis, Ward Swingle, Howie Mandel, Laura San Giocomo, Richie Cole, Rob Marshall, Blair Underwood, and Seth Myers. Mark’s overseas tours have taken him to Bern, Zurich, Paris, Freiburg, Geneva, Panama, and Amsterdam. The Chicago Sun-Times hailed his work as “silky smooth and highly polished”, and Cabaret Hotline praised him as “one of the most talented pianists and arrangers I’ve seen.” Mark was twice a Master Instructor at the International Cabaret Conference at Yale University, and he has also taught at Northwestern and Roosevelt Universities. In Chicago, he can be heard at the Tortoise Supper Club, City Winery, Davenport’s, and the Signature Room. Discography: Summer Days & Dreamy Nights, Blues in the Night (with Anne Burnell), Christmas Piano, Cooler by the Lake.

Jeanie reveled in the experience of participating in the St Louis Cabaret Conference twice. She worked for Club Mediterranée for several years, traveling and singing in France. She studied French in Aix-en-Provence and lived and worked in Paris for several years, singing at Jazz Clubs in Montparnasse and at The Hollywood Savoy next to La Bourse. Jeanie hails from Sedona, Arizona, and now lives in Las Vegas. She has fun collaborating in shows and gigs including the Sentimental Journey Big Band, a combo called “The Classics”, and is the director of Red Rockappella, a Sweet Adelines barbershop small chorus.

Jeanie Carroll

Marielle de Rocca-Serra is a violinist, vocalist and actor born in France. After completing her classical education in conservatory programs in Nice, Paris and Rotterdam, she joined the hot jazz community in Paris where she learned the specific genre, enriched by her classical-infused sound and technique. In 2006 she moved to Chicago, where she became founding member of the gypsy jazz band “le Percolateur” alongside Sam Random and Stacy McMichael. She also performed with Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan, Paul Marinaro, Paris La Nuit at mythical clubs like the Green Mill, Katerina’s, and the Jazz Showcase. She also regularly performed in NYC with Spiros Exaras, the Carte Blanche ensemble and the Avalon Jazz Band. As an actor, she stars in films American Slice by Boris Wexler and Viva La Libertà by Roberto Ando, and performed the part of Alice Liddle with the Chicago Opera Vanguard in the American premiere of Boojum: Truth, Lies and Lewis Carroll. Back in Paris in 2013, she founded “The Swing Factory”, a vintage Hot Jazz band alongside Romain Constant, and leads the Trip Hop Band “The Felt Mountains”.

Angelique’s passion began with dance, evolved into singing, spread to the theater (classical repertory to one-woman shows), broke into musicals, tested itself on the street, exposed itself to the camera, then returned to classrooms to entertain kids.
Her ambition is to share a line, a note, an image, a laugh, an emotion.
“Passion drives my boat and the encounters that make it glide along.”

Ma passion a commencé avec la danse, s’est glissée dans le chant, s’est répandue au théâtre -du répertoire classique au one woman show-, a déferlé en spectacle musical, va se tester à la rue, s’expose à la caméra, ou revient sur les bancs de l’école pour amuser les plus petits…
Elle envahit et n’a de cesse et c’est riche de cet ensemble…
…que j’aimerais partager aujourd’hui avec vous…un vers, une note, une image, un rire, une émotion….
C’est la passion qui mène ma barque et les rencontres qui la font glisser sur l’eau…

Tél : 06 83 19 32 54
Mail :  [email protected]
Site :  Site Angélique Dessaint
Face Book :  Face Book Angélique Dessaint

Jeanne Franks is a jazz vocalist and long-time on-air radio host at WDCB 90.9 FM, Chicagoland’s premier jazz station. She performs for corporate and private events. A Chicago native, she started piano lessons at age five after hearing jazz her father’s trio rehearsing in the living room and asking for a piano so she too could play! Jeanne played flute in school bands and later studied piano and voice at Elmhurst College and Benedictine University. For two decades, she was a soprano and soloist in the Wooten Choral Ensemble singing hymns, spirituals, traditional and contemporary gospel music. A graduate of Knox College, she earned an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Jeanne fills in the spaces between singing and her radio show as a self-employed marketing, business development and interior design professional in the architecture and construction industry.

Singer-actor Anne Fromm trained at the Stage school of music, dance and drama in Hamburg. Since 1998, she has lived in France, exploring polyphony, world singing, sacred singing and also body practices such as shiatsu, inspired by the teachings of Frank Kane, vibration and Georgian. She has studied Jean-Luc Bosc (theater, improvisation), Arnaud Didierjean (North Indian dhrupad singing) as well as Borys Cholevka (world singing, sacred singing).
Since her arrival in Lyon, she has been teaching vocal technique, interpretation and the therapeutic aspect of singing. She loves to share the pleasure of singing, to set up artistic projects, to coach and stage all kinds of vocal groups and artists.

Chanteuse et comédienne, j’ai été formée à la ‘Stage school of music, dance and drama’ à Hambourg. Ensuite j’ai eu le plaisir de jouer, chanter et danser dans de nombreuses productions de comédies musicales en Allemagne. Depuis 24 ans en France, je parcours d’autres sentiers comme la polyphonie, les chants du monde, le chant sacré et aussi des pratiques corporelles comme le shiatsu. Je continue à suivre les enseignements de personnes qui me sont très chères comme Frank Kane (travail sur la vibration et le chant géorgien), Jean-Luc Bosc (théâtre, improvisation), Arnaud Didierjean (chant dhrupad de l’Inde du Nord) ainsi que Borys Cholevka (chant du monde, chant sacré) qui nous a malheureusement quitté en 2017.
Depuis mon arrivée à Lyon, j’enseigne la technique vocale, l’interprétation et aussi tout l’aspect thérapeutique à travers le chant. J’aime partager le plaisir de chanter, monter des projets artistiques, mettre en scène, coacher des groupes vocaux et artistes de tout horizon.

A radiant and reassuring presence, a voice that reaches for the stars, a powerful zest for life through song and dance, a passion for new horizons, projects and encounters… Isabelle Georges unifies all of the aforementioned with a smile! On stage, as a performer, and creator of her own shows, we witness her inspiring cultural and artistic heritage in a joyful combination of musical theater, French songs, classical, jazz and Yiddish music.
This melting pot of music and language reflects her free- spirited, ever-curious nature, finely honed from childhood. The environment in which Isabelle grew up was both musical and music loving. It was profoundly humanistic, open and full of promises that, after many years in hospital, ignited inside her an energy that she would never lose. Musical theater allowed her not only to forge her own path alongside the dramatic soprano legacy from her mother but also to rediscover her body with dance and begin to arm herself for the stage in Jean-Paul Lucetʼs production of Barnum. Isabelle attended the Cours Florent and her idols include Judy Garland (the subject of her first show in 2005), Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, Jacques Brel.

Singer/songwriter producer, director, Carla Gordon was cited by the Chicago Tribune among, “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers … a major player in cabaret.” Cabaret Scenes called her “Honey-voiced wise cracker!” Chicago venues include Drury Lane Water Tower, Park West Theater, Preston Bradley Hall and Davenport’s. She has entertained at St. Louis’s Sheldon Theater, Manhattan’s Metropolitan Room, and Michigan’s Acorn Theater. Gordon’s songs have aired on WFMT’s Midnight Special. The Miracle We Need (written with Wayne Richards) was selected for the Chicago Humanities Festival. Other songwriting collaborators include Shelly Markham, Michelle Brouerman, Beckie Menzie, Elizabeth Doyle and Bob Moreen. Upcoming projects include Blacklisted at the Milwaukee Jewish Museum. She can be reached via [email protected]. (photo by Euphoria)

Jeff has won multiple MAC, Bistro and BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards and The Noel Coward Foundation Cabaret Award. His Carnegie Hall appearances include both the Cole Porter and Noel Coward Centennial Galas.  Jeff’s televised PBS concerts include “The 1959 Broadway Songbook” with Music
Director Alex Rybeck, “American Songbook: Stephen Sondheim” co-starring KT Sullivan, and Michael Feinstein’s “Live from NJPAC.” Jeff toured with Shauna Hicks in their Symphony Pops Concert “I Got Rhythm: Mickey & Judy’s Hollywood.” Jeff’s fifth solo album, I KNOW THINGS NOW (My Life in SONDHEIM’S Words), was released in 2022 by PS Classics and features a 20-piece orchestra conducted by jazz virtuoso Jon Weber. Jeff is also a BroadwayWorld, MAC and Bistro Award winning Director.  He has directed critically-acclaimed shows for Tovah Feldshuh, Rita Gardner and award-winning shows for Celia Berk, Dawn Derow, Josephine Sanges and Margo Brown. He is a much requested coach for The St. Louis Cabaret Conference.

Born in Paris, raised in Detroit, and seasoned in New York City, Claudia moved to Chicago to hone her skills. Actor-singer, teacher, cabaret promoter, her recordings and concerts of Paris/Paree, Paris in the Jazz Age, Romance Language: French Songs for Lovers, and the two Jazz Fauré Project albums are a reflection of her Paris-centric repertoire.
In 1997 she initiated Chicago Cabaret Professionals. For ten years, she has been on the faculty in the Community Music Division of DePaul University School of Music teaching SongShop, a class in song interpretation. Executive director of Working In Concert, Claudia directs the Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion, co-cordinates Chicago Cabaret Week, and produces SongShop workshops and concerts.

Elisabeth is the author of the Teacher’s Vocal Power Method Toolkit for CCM and the Singer’s Vocal Power Method Toolkit for CCM. She is recognized by National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) as a pioneer in the field of teaching Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) and featured featured in the NATS publication, So You Want to Sing Contemporary Commercial Music, as well as Training Contemporary Commercial Singers, published by Compton.
Elisabeth is a graduate of the Julliard School with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in voice and founder of the Vocal Power Academy in Los Angeles. She has presented Vocal Power Method Workshops for National Voice Teachers Conferences in eleven countries and has certified Vocal Power Trainers throughout the US, France, Italy and Brazil.
Clients include Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle in the film, Beauty and the Beast, Lionel Richie, The Police, Priscilla Presley and was the warm-up coach for Sting at the Grammys. She has had clients on Broadway, National tours, American Idol, ten winners on Star Search and was a vocal coach on America’s Got Talent. Her Cabaret act, Op’ra to Pop’ra was performed in New York and Los Angeles clubs and was touted by Los Angeles Music Connection Magazine as “a talent to be reckoned with.” Elisabeth has performed leads in 25 musicals and operas. She won the national title, “Ms Senior America, 2012.”

Stefan is a versatile performer and vocalist as a solo artist or with a band. He hails from Detroit. He has a diverse repertoire including Jazz, Pop, blues, R&B to Motown, and Classical, not to mention Funk, ethnic music (Ladino, Latino salsa and folkloric, Arabic, Jewish, French, Albanian, Igbo, Yiddish, Polish, Black Gospel) straight improvisation, New Age & songwriting. He has toured as a pianist and Musical Director for different national acts.
He plays acoustic piano, Hammond B3 style, synthesizers, guitar, percussion, harmonica, and drum kit as needed. He has created custom sound design and programming for the Detroit Symphony. Back in the late 70s he accompanied Temptations singer David Ruffin on the road for a year. His jingles have been performed on TV and radio, and he has produced children’s music with clients such as Sesame Street and The Learning Channel.
As a bandleader, Stefan instinctively knows how to work the crowd and keep the party going! “Let’s Build International Goodwill and Inclusion through Music.”

MYLÈNE LAUNAY is a French actor, dancer, street and cabaret singer. She trained in classical dance, modern-jazz, tap, flamenco (at AID), Argentine  tango (in Buenos Aires) and musical comedy (AICOM). She co-hosts a weekly street ball at rue Mouffetard with accordionist Christian Bassoul. Mylène wrote her first musical, In Vitro, in 2015. She and Claudia Hommel organized the first Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion exchange in France in 2017. She continues to coordinate and recruit for the Association Cabaret Connexion in France.

Ava is an award-winning singer-actor from Washington, D.C. Dr. Logan is a veterinarian by day and a jazz singer at night. She is a classically-trained jazz recording artist and has performed jazz, pop, and rhythm and blues nationally and internationally, in jazz clubs, festivals, hotels and more with duos to 18-piece big bands. She has portrayed her idols Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson in professional theater performances in Chicago. Her first major CD, So Many Stars, produced by guitarist Henry Johnson, was met with critical acclaim.

Actor, singer, dancer, Lexa Maxa started her career in solo shows, cabaret, and as a show opener singer-songwriter. In New York, she has performed at the Metropolitan Room, Triad Theatre, The Bitter End, and the Schimmel Center opening for JoJo and Jesse McCartney. In the Midwest, Lexa has been part of the Broadway World Regional Award-winning production of Disenchanted! (Nicely Theatre); on stage as Selene in the moving drama Night Blooming at Detroit Repertory Theatre, and Elvira in the award-winning Blithe Spirit at Act Two Theatre in St. Peters, MO.
In addition to choreography, film acting, commercials and print campaigns, she enjoys playing the piano, songwriting, and traveling. Her first love will always be entertaining and performing—be it plays, musicals, solo music shows, dance, or film—aiming always to communicate and inspire through creative expression what words alone cannot express.

TÁSSIA MINUZZO studied piano in her teens at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. In 2008, she began projects with Cena Gaúcha, focusing on French music, and soon after won first place in the II Festival da Canção Francesa, promoted by the Alliance Française de Porto Alegre. With her soft and expressive voice, she has performed several shows in cities and beaches throughout Southeast
Brazil, including “Vida” which features Brazilian Popular Music,
Jazz, Bossa Nova and French Song. In 2019, she formed the “Tássia Minuzzo Quartet” to perform these genres, Manouche, and her own compositions. Over the
last five years, Tássia has carried out projects with the participation of Gelson Oliveira, Nelson Coelho de Castro and Toneco da Costa; Piaf e L’amour, a tribute to French singer Édith Piaf, with pianist Rafael Vernet; the musical
stage show Le Grand Café (songs from Cabaret) and the show Mar Azul with pianist Michel Dorfman.

For twenty-five years, Steve Normandin has been singing on stages big and small around the world with his accordion as his companion. In addition to his work as a songwriter and performer, he has lent his accompanying talents to prominent figures in Quebecois music and theater, including Clémence Des Rochers, Marie Michèle Desrosiers, Raymond Lévesque, and Robert Lepage.

Together with Hungarian collector László Pusztai, the singer-musician published a book titled “Édith Piaf: The Unknown Icon. Catalog of Works 1935-2023” featuring forgotten or lesser-known songs by Édith Piaf.

Since 2021, Steve Normandin has been in charge of programming for the Carrefour Mondial de l’Accordéon (Montmagny). He has also contributed to the establishment of the new exhibition at the Musée de l’accordéon « De La Bolduc aux Cowboys fringants : l’accordéon dans la chanson québécoise » ( “From La Bolduc to Les Cowboys Fringants: The Accordion in Quebecois Song”).

Depuis vingt-cinq ans, Steve Normandin chante sur les petites et les grandes scènes du monde avec son accordéon pour compagnon de route.

En plus de son travail d’auteur-compositeur et d’interprète, il a mis ses talents d’accompagnateur au service de grands artistes de la chanson québécoise, de la musique et du théâtre : Clémence Des Rochers, Marie Michèle Desrosiers, Raymond Lévesque, Isabelle Boulay, Paule-Andrée Cassidy, Suzie LeBlanc, Natalie Choquette et Robert Lepage.

En compagnie du collectionneur hongrois László Pusztai, le chanteur-musicien publie en juin 2023 un livre intitulé Édith Piaf : l’icône méconnue. Catalogue de l’œuvre 1935-2023, de même que la création d’un nouveau spectacle autour des chansons oubliées ou méconnues d’Édith Piaf.

Pianist Jean-Claude is an organizer of the Cabaret Connexion and serves as pianist in master classes and concerts. He has participated in many international events and piano concerts. Jean-Claude comes from a family of musicians. For many years he has played regularly in Paris at venues such as Le George V, le Plaza-Athénée et le Bristol. He appears frequently at the oldest Parisian artistic cabaret, Au Lapin Agile. He accompanied Claudia Hommel’s master class at the École Professionnel de Comédie Musicale in 2016 and joined Elizabeth Doyle as pianist for Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion in Paris (2017) and Chicago (2018). He returned to Chicago to perform with Christine Steyer, taking their concert Sweet Spot between Our Worlds to Montréal (2019). He performs as a solo pianist, as part of small jazz groups and also leads Parisian Big Band “BB15”. He has composed and performed for film.

JeanClaudeOrfali headshot

Comic, singer, presenter and judge on BBC 1’s All Together Now, PAUL L. MARTIN is the foremost teacher and facilitator of cabaret in the U.K. He has worked for over 20 years in drama schools, acting centers and with individual clients. He offers courses on the tenets and principles of cabaret. He has been a tireless champion of the London cabaret scene for over 25 years. He returns to the Connexion conference to teach again.

Martin Pénet est un journaliste et historien né à Paris le 17 mars 1968, spécialisé dans la chanson d’expression française des XIXᵉ et XXᵉ siècles. Producteur sur France Musique et France Culture, Martin a publié de nombreux articles et ouvrages de référence sur la chanson, dirigé de nombreuses rééditions patrimoniales en CD.

Martin Pénet, journalist and historian born in Paris in March 1968, specializes in French chanson of the XIXᵉ and XXᵉ centuries. A producer for France Musique, Martin has published numerous articles and reference works on chanson, and directed numerous legacy reissues on CD.

AngelinaReaux headshot

Born in Houston, Texas to a Spanish mother and a Cajun father, Angelina is a woman of multiple talents: opera singer, chanteuse, singing-actress, director, producer, dramatist, scenographer, costumer and pedagogue. She commands a repertoire from Strauss to Sondheim and has performed in major venues in the U.S. and Europe.
Best known for works of Kurt Weill and Leonard Bernstein, Angelina began her career in New York as the Beggar Woman in the first national tour of Sweeney Todd with Angela Lansbury. She was soon engaged by dozens of prominent venues from Houston Grand Opera to Vienna Staatsoper, Glimmerglass Opera to the New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops and Boston Symphony, BBC Symphony, to Caramoor, Ravinia, and Innsbruck Festivals. Leonard Bernstein hand-picked Angelina to sing the role of Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème, and its Grammy-nominated recording by Deutsche Grammophon. She has performed his Jeremiah Symphony around the world, brought a Bernstein Liederabend to the New York Historical Society, premiered five of his posthumous songs, created There Is a Garden: A Celebration of Leonard Bernstein for the Chicago Opera Theatre, Bernstein Tonight! in Italy and at the Chautauqua Institute, and recorded songs for Bernstein: A Jewish Legacy.

While at Northwestern University, Angelina performed Kurt Weill’s Berlin to Broadway. Her one-woman Kurt Weill show, Stranger Here Myself, directed by Christopher Alden for the New York Shakespeare Festival, continues to be performed throughout the U.S. She made her début at the New York Philharmonic singing Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins, performed Weill’s Marie Galante and Johnny Johnson, also for BBC television. She has brought her Weill cabaret Dancing on a Volcano: Ein Berliner Kabarett to regional theatres, concert halls, clubs and cabarets throughout the U.S. At the Santa Fe Opera she starred as the False Angele in Weill’s Der Tsar lässt sich Fotografieren. She played Jenny Diver in The Threepenny Opera at The Skylight Theatre, and Polly Peachum at the Chautauqua Institute. She has directed and designed productions in Tuscany (Italy), Santa Barbara and Sacramento. She has also served as judicator for the prestigious Lenya Competition on several occasions and her recording of Weill’s Street Scene as Rose Maurrant can be heard on the Decca/London label. Angelina was featured in Side by Side by Sondheim at North Coast Rep, and has appeared with some of America’s finest repertory theatres from Yale to Santa Barbara; and in concert and cabaret at Café Sabarsky, the Algonquin, the American Express Concert Series, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Recital Hall and many more. Angelina lives in San Diego, California with her husband, baritone Michael Sokol and their dog and cats.

Clotilde is an international interdisciplinary creator, artistic director, vocalist, flutist, producer, and facilitator who employs a range of art forms to generate new poetic languages. She combines music, song, dance, and the visual arts to make singular performance pieces, concerts, and films. Her music and body in motion art movie XXY [ɛks/ɛks/wʌɪ] (2018) has been screened in over thirty festivals around the world and received several prizes and nominations. Her most recent album, A Woman’s Journey (2016) received sixteen awards, six of which were for the best album (in France and the USA). Clotilde’s second album, In Extremis (2008), was ranked among the top five albums of 2011 by The Sunday Times (UK) and 2013 by the NPR Annual Jazz Critics Poll (USA). Her international career has led her to perform at venues and festivals in Australia, Burkina-Faso, China, Germany, Korea, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK and the United States.

Spider has been heard around the world as the host/star of the syndicated public radio series Words and Music, and thousands have enjoyed her jazz stylings through live performances. Spider was featured at Ravinia Music Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival and New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. The Chicago-based jazz vocalist has won accolades around the world for her introspective approach to the genre, most profoundly through her one-woman tribute to George Gershwin, The Memory of All That, conceived with the blessing of the Gershwin estate and headlining the Gershwin Centennial in St. Petersburg, Russia. Other international concerts include Poznan, Poland; Florence, Italy; and London.
Performing with orchestra or intimate jazz group, Spider has also composed concert tributes to Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim and partners with Dee Alexander and Frieda Lee as 3 Ellas Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald . As composer, playwright and actress, Spider wrote a one-woman musical, The Roar of the Butterfly that has toured from Chicago, to Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia. Her original jazz/R&B song, When You See Me, a jazz/R&B tune can be seen on YouTube. Her weekly podcast Spider’s Web is on iTunes and at

Barb is the winner of the 2018 Skokie Idol Contest. She has sung in shows at Davenport’s, Epiphany, Drew’s on Halsted, Rosa’s Lounge, Chief O’Neill’s, Borelli’s and the Cliff Dwellers Club. She sings jazz, blues, folk musicand cabaret. Barb started her career as a folk singer: playing guitar and singing at coffee houses and in hootenannies. She is an active volunteer organizer of the Cabaret Connexion and serves as Vice President of Working In Concert.

Barb Smith

Lydia’s background is primarily in musical theater, although she also enjoys singing folk music, Tin Pan Alley songs and American standards, in additional to show tunes. Her favorite musical roles include Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, Grandma Tzeitl in Fiddler on the Roof, Mr. Twimble/Wally Womper in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying and Dot, a Goose, in Honk! This is her fifth Cabaret Connexion, so she is not a newcomer to cabaret anymore, but still a novice. Lydia also plays a major volunteer role managing design and communication tasks for Working In Concert.

CPCx 2019 Lydia Lapine Agile

Graduated in Paris in classical and jazz accordion, Wilfried Touati participates in all types of projects across musical borders, from solo to symphony orchestra, as musician, arranger and composer. In 2018, he formed the Wilfried Touati Quartet to play his compositions in a jazz aesthetic. Its first album Voyage was released in November 2021 by the label Jazz Family. This experience led him to create duets with oboist Guillaume Retail and Christelle Raquillet on flute and vocals.

As soon as she could speak, MERI ZIEV began singing standards  along with the 8-tracks in her father’s Buick Riviera. With a brother who played in a rock & roll band, and season tickets to the symphony while in high school, Ziev went on to a career as a speech-language pathologist, promoting human connections through speech and language. Ziev glides through the worlds of cabaret, jazz gigs, and performing with the Pops Orchestra of Palm Beach County, singing everything from Pop to Country.  She has performed in NYC (Don’t Tell Mama, The Laurie Beachman, Pangea, Birdland), Chicago (Davenports), St. Louis (Kranzberg Arts Center & Jazz at the Bistro), Sterling Events Center in Austin, TX, and various venues in FL including The Arts Garage in Delray Beach. Meri is the  co-founder of the newly organized South FLorida Cabaret Singers community.

Other conference participants

We will be adding all our participants as registrations come in!