President: Bennie Keys
Vice-President: Kevin Murphy
Secretary / Treasurer: Andrea Giba
Christina Fong, Chris Martin, Elgin Vines & Charles Johnson
President: Bennie Keys
Bennie Keys is a jazz & pop drummer and has been a member of Local 56 since 1989. He was elected to the Local 56 Executive Board, later becoming the Vice President, and in 2018 was elected President. He has been on the Diversity Council for the American Federation of Musicians for several years. If you would like to contact him, his number is 813-0753, E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice President: Kevin Murphy
Kevin Murphy has been a member of Local 56 since 2000 and became a Board Member in 2008. As of January 2019 he was elected as acting Vice President. He has a Bachelor Degree in Music Education from Aquinas College, studied at Berkley Jazz Music Conservatory in Boston and attended the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles and teaches privately on guitar, sax, bass and voice.
Kevin has played music professionally most of his life, currently fronting his own band, Murphy's Law on sax, vocals and guitar, and he also does a solo act. Over the years, he has opened for the God Father Mr. James Brown, played with Junior Walker's All-Star Band, as well as some Motown groups when living in Hollywood. He also does vocal recording, musical arranging and orchestration for area local Artist. and he practices martial arts.
Kevin says, "I support youth in their pursuit of music because it was what helped me prepare for my career in music. As musical programs diminish in our schools both Elementary and High Schools because of budget cut backs we as a musical committee need to be vibrant and visible. This helps make young people aware that there are positive choices that are within reach. 'Living the Dream' as one might call it.
I have two beautiful daughters and I am still a free spirit. My pursuit of the martial arts encompasses a combination of styles; as a result, my approach seems to be a bit unorthodox but effective."
Secretary / Treasurer: Andrea Giba
Andrea Giba began her stint as Secretary/Treasurer in January, 2018. She knew she wanted to play the saxophone when she picked it up in fourth grade. Throughout her elementary and high school years, she was active in the concert band, the jazz band, the marching band, the concert choir, and even learned other instruments, like the trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and flute, and earned many medals during competitions. She also organized a big-band era cover band that played for reunions, county fairs, etc. After her senior year, she auditioned for and was selected to represent the United States in Europe with America's Youth in concert, which included playing at the Kennedy Center and the great Carnegie Hall. She now plays her saxophone at her church and at other venues like the GR Festival Of the Arts and with other exciting groups like Bennie Keys and Friends. Aside from all the music, Andrea has worked for the Space Shuttle Program at Cape Canaveral, has a green belt in Karate, and also has a Solo Pilot's License.
Board Member: Elgin Vines
Elgin Vines has been described as one of the most sought-after jazz bassists in Western Michigan. He started stroking the strings professionally over 40 years ago, making a switch from woodwinds at the urging of his college music professor who needed a good bassist and pointed out greater career opportunities for bass players. The West Michigan Jazz Society named Elgin the 2005 Jazz Musician of the Year.
Over his career, Elgin has performed with nearly every musician in West Michigan and has toured with many major recording artists.
As a retired technologist and claims analyst for Amway Corporation, Elgin plays these days for the love of it and spends his spare time listening to his jazz collection, as well as offering technical assistance and moral support to young bassists when requested. He also leads his own group, ELGIN VINES & COMPANY.
Christopher Martin landed in Grand Rapids in 1988 after winning an audition to be a violinist in the Grand Rapids Symphony. He initially joined the AF of M while studying and freelancing in central Ohio and environs where he grew up (Local 103, Columbus, OH). Chris previously served on the Local 56 Executive Board in 1992/93 under then President John Kik. At that time he was instrumental in helping to create the Robert Madura Memorial Scholarship to aid high school string students with tuition for summer music festival education. Over his years in Grand Rapids he has been involved in both Grand Rapids Symphony contract negotiations (4) and contract administration (numerous terms on the GRS Orchestra Committee including a stint as Chair when the the GRS unilaterally tried to change its Long Term Disability insurance policy carrier in violation of the contract, and another when the GRS mounted a poorly planned tour of Michigan's Upper Peninsula which introduced Chris to the value of the aural sleep aid of simulated waves crashing on the shore -- thank you Kevin Flannnery!). Chris has also represented the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony at multiple orchestra player conferences (we were in the Regional Orchestra Player Association in those days). He remembers Costa Mesa (1992), Omaha (1997), Cleveland (2000), Dayton (2009), and the epic ROPA/ICSOM Conference in Las Vegas (1998) which he attended with then Local 56 President Ray Gill.
Board Member: Christina Fong
Christina Fong was elected to the Board of Directors for Local 56 in January 2017.
A member of the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Local 56 since 1988, Fong is currently Associate Concertmaster and plays in the Symphony’s Calder Quintet, which tours western Michigan giving civic and educational concerts. From 1990 to 2002 Fong served as an adjunct instructor of violin at Grand Valley State University.
Michigan resident Christina Fong is a leading performer of new music on the violin and viola. Fong’s series of recordings on OgreOgress, mostly world premieres, include several of Cage’s final works (the ‘number pieces’ One6, One10, Two4, Four, Twenty-Three and Twenty-Six with Twenty-Eight & Twenty-Nine), Feldman’s complete violin, viola and piano works, his Violin and String Quartet and three early quartets, Hovhaness’s published works for violin, viola and keyboard and three of his concertos with strings, several Schoenberg string works and fragments, Alvear’s Fuerzas for viola and string quartets by Beardsley, Toub, Kotlowy and Prokop. The diverse group of artists in collaboration include sitarist Gaurav Mazumdar, keyboardist Arved Ashby, cellist Karen Krummel, percussionist Glenn Freeman, pianist Paul Hersey, the Prague Winds, shō player Tamami Tono, the Rangzen Quartet & Strings, conductor Rastislav Štúr and the Slovak Philharmonic.
Fong has bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University, where she graduated Pi Kappa Lambda and was awarded the honorary title “Eckstein Scholar.” Her principle violin teachers were Blair Milton, Myron Kartman and Donna Schaff. She studied orchestral music with Samuel Magad, Rubin Gonzales, Francis Akos, Charlie Pikler, Blair Milton and Edgar Muenzer and received chamber music coaching from Gerardo Ribiero, Donald Owens and Ray Still. Fong has held positions with the Florida Philharmonic and Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Board Member: Charles C. Johnson
Minister Charles Christopher Johnson, born February 7 1970. He graduated from Muskegon High School in 1988 and received a scholarship to attend Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Later, Minister Johnson transferred to the "School of Music" at the University of Memphis. While in Memphis, he partnered in ministry under the leadership of Bishop Lee Ward of Greater Harvest COGIC.
Minister Johnson is a registered member of the Grand Rapids Musicians Union Local-56 and AFL-CIO. He is registered as a free-lance affiliate member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Science (NARAS) of the Grammy Association where he appears on 9 recording projects ranging from Gospel, Contemplative Worship and Jazz. Charles is a classical jazz bassist and has performed with many music masters including ten time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin, nine-time Grammy winner Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer, and Internationally known jazz vocalist Mark Murphy -noted folk singer / songwriter. As a Production Manager for thr Best of Jazz & Savoir Faire Productions Charles has produced shows for jazz saxophonist Art Porter Jr. and Joe Sample among others.
When transferring to Memphis, Charles furthered his studies in Music Performance, Artist Development, and Pre-Law Music Business. Charles hopes to foster music innovation and create jazz inspired music that transcends a particular genre. Something that's refreshing and universal.
Board Member: Melody Pollard
Melody is a pianist, vocalist, teacher, and band leader for jazz, blues, fusion and gospel band, DEEP WATERS. She plays piano and sings. Melody began playing piano and singing at age 4 and playing for bands and leading neighborhood students in choirs at age 9. She received a 3 year diploma from Moody Bible Institute in Piano Performance, and a BA in Music Theory from Northeastern IL University. During college she toured for 3 years with “Adoration” and began writing original music and arranging for the band, choirs, piano and instrumentalists. She toured with 60 students throughout Canada, WA, FL, GA, and MI in musicals for 14 years. She has prepared students for music careers for the last 16 years in West Michigan and currently leads a band called DEEP WATERS. Her passion is musical, cultural and ethnic diversity which is represented in DEEP WATERS recent performance at the 50th Federal of the Arts. She was the first director of the Pathfinder Diversity Youth Choir for Unity and collaborated with Gospel artists Debra Perry and Vanessa Allen in youth workshops. She has trained vocally with Contralto Gwenneth Bean and collaborated with members of the GR Symphony, West Shore Symphony and organized African-American, Jazz, Classical, Broadway, Sacred, and Christmas concerts for community centers. She is a member of Local 56 and looks forward to helping promote musicians of all genres to highlight the rich talent in West Michigan.