August 2019 Tree of Life welcomed Cassandra Vohs-Demann as our Music Director and Billy Seger as Accompanist. Cassandra develops the overall scope of our music programming and directs the choir.
BIOGRAPHY FOR CASSANDRA VOHS-DEMANN OUR MUSIC DIRECTOR
Cassandra has been performing professionally for over 30 years. She is a trained vocalist, writer, coach, actress, and an accomplished songwriter. She loves to use her musical gifts to bring people together and build community. Always a performer at heart, she is thrilled to be back singing regularly after a long hiatus.
Cassandra’s love of singing and the arts came at an early age while growing up on a farm in Woodstock, IL. She is the owner of A Place to Shine Music, where for almost 30 years, she has been teaching, performing, writing and producing music. After receiving a degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois in 1991, Cassandra continued her professional training in opera and acting in Chicago where she performed with the Grant Park Symphony, toured with The New Organization for Vocal Artistry and was an anthem soloist for the Chicago Bulls. She has had the pleasure of working with several amazing coaches and directors. She has extensive experience both as an actress and musical director. She was also an extra in the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray filmed in her hometown of Woodstock!
In 1999 Cassandra shifted from opera to contemporary music. She began focusing more on her passion for writing and performing her own original songs. Since then, she has toured the Midwest as a solo performer and has been the lead vocalist for numerous rock bands. Cassandra currently performs with a band, as a solo artist and is asked to collaborate regularly with other talented area musicians. She has performed in Nashville Writer’s Rounds, is a member of ASCAP and The Nashville Songwriters Association.
Her CD “Here I Am” was recorded at Starbell Hatchery Studio with friend, collaborator, and producer, John Hegner, and was released on October 23, 2010. She was thrilled to have guitarist Peter Calo play on her CD as well. Peter is a New York based guitarist known for his work with Carly Simon. The CD can be heard on Pandora Radio and is also available on iTunes.
A prolific songwriter, Cassandra’s lyrics and extraordinary vocals connect with people straight from the heart. Her original songs deal with love, loss, self-reflection and dreams. She does custom songwriting for local organizations. Three of Cassandra’s songs, Let’s Paint the World, The Teacher and Colors have been used as the backdrops for Pioneer Center for Human Services of McHenry County’s 2011 and 2012 mission videos. Her song “Legacy” was used as the backdrop for a video for the Lakeside Legacy Arts Park in January 2013. In addition, her song “Celebrate Anyway” has been released as a free download for those dealing with loss and grief during the holidays. In 2017, she collaborated with producer John Hegner, of Starbell Hatchery Studio, to record an original song written to help promote the Food Shed CoOp in McHenry County. She recently perform her song “Just Come Through the Door” for Mainstay Therapeutic Riding’s Annual Benefit and there are plans for a video in the future to help promote the organization. She also does custom songwriting for weddings and other special occasions.
Currently, she is working on recording and licensing music for film and television, developing online education programs, a podcast, video content and blog to expand her reach. She collaborates regularly with Producer/Musician Graham Butler of Polymath Production Services.
Cassandra continues to feed her passion for teaching in her home studio in Woodstock. She continues to perform solo and collaborates with many area musicians. She is currently producing a new Second Saturday Concert Series in collaboration with the Woodstock Opera House started in January of 2019. Cassandra has an original screenplay in development and has plans to release a lot of new music this year. She also has several other creative projects in process. She was recently named the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce.
She co-hosts a monthly Original Open Mic at the Stage Left Cafe’ in Woodstock partnering with Offsquare Music to give original artists a platform to share their work. She also started the Ukulele Superhero Club.
In 2015 Cassandra founded the Woodstock Community Choir and continues to function as the artistic director. The choir is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and is dedicated to building community through singing! It has recently been recognized as the official city choir of Woodstock.
She is delighted to have joined the staff of Tree of Life UU as the Director of Music.
Cassandra’s studio is in her home in Woodstock, IL where she lives with her husband Philip and their 2 cats, Blaze and Misty.
BIOGRAPHY FOR BILLY SEGER
Billy is honored to join the Tree of Life family and serve the congregation as the in-house pianist. Music has been a constant in Billy’s life since the ripe age of 8 when he first started participating in musical theatre productions, choir, and piano lessons. Billy followed his passion for the arts to Millikin University’s prestigious School of Theatre and Dance and graduated from the program in 2009. Billy has gone on to perform professionally across the country, including: two national tours, two international contracts aboard Oceania Cruise Lines, and two Christmas seasons as a backup singer/dancer for country superstar Pam Tillis.
Billy currently resides in Woodstock, IL and works as a professional director/choreographer for various theatre companies including Woodstock High School and Raue Center for the Arts.