Greg Watkins – Music Director/Pianist
A native Washingtonian, Greg is a proud alumnus of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and current candidate for a Bachelors degree in Music Education at The Howard University. An extremely gifted individual, he is a pianist, musical director, vocalist, composer, arranger, producer, and an aspiring educator. He is a former member of the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Children of the Gospel Mass Choir and Howard University's premiere vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue.
For several years, Mr. Watkins faithfully served as member, Associate Choral Director, and organist for the Metropolitan Baptist Church (Washington, DC). Prior to and following this assignment, he served as pianist and organist for several other churches in the Washington Metropolitan area including The Isle of Patmos Baptist Church, The East Friendship Baptist Church, and The Emmanuel-Brinklow Seventh Day Adventist Church. Mr. Watkins has toured Italy, performing as baritone soloist in the Annual Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival with Gospel recording artist Nolan Williams, Jr. He has also traveled to Russia and China, performing as member and Student Conductor of the world renowned and critically acclaimed Howard University (Concert) Choir. In 2008, Mr. Watkins served as pianist and Assistant Musical Director, alongside Director and Broadway and television actress Lynda Gravatt for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ collaborative all-school musical of William F. Brown’s The Wiz. In 2009, he was featured in the leading role of The Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadows, a two act opera by Steven M. Allen, based on the life and love of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore. Most recently, he served as Musical Director for the Restoration Stage Theater Company’s two week production of All That Glitters, at The H Street Playhouse.
Mr. Watkins is a recipient of numerous awards and achievements including the ASCAP Foundation/Cherry Lane Foundation/Music Alive Scholarship Award in Honor of Quincy Jones, for his outstanding work in production, composition, performance, and musical direction. He currently serves as Music Director of the Washington Youth Choir, Director of Music and Arts at the Jerusalem African Methodist-Episcopal Church (Clinton, MD), vocal psalmist of Patrick Lundy & The Ministers of Music, and is the Artistic and Musical Director of his own youth & young adult community gospel ensemble WORSHIP BY CHOICE, which he founded in January 2005. Mr. Watkins has shared platforms with notable artists including Yolanda Adams, Take 6, Melba Moore, Minister Byron Cage, The Reverend Richard Smallwood, Dorothy Norwood, Phylicia RaShaad, India Arie, Clay Aiken, Donnie McClurkin, Regina Belle, Dr. Maya Angelou, Patti LuPone, Ben Vereen, Brian McKnight, and Neena Freelon. Some of his theatrical stage credits include Hallelujah: the Soul of Broadway, Junkanoo, Come Sunday: Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music with Dance, Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl & the Night Visitors, Loften Mitchell’s Bubbling Brown Sugar, James Baldwin’s Amen Corner, and Marc Blitzstein’s Regina. His playwright and production credits include his own I’ll Make a Difference, and The Devil Tested Me But God Preserved Me, along with three children’s musicals written by Howard University Theatre Assistant Professor Denise J. Hart, entitled, How I Learned to Be a Kid, When a Tree Grows In Brookland, and A Marvelous Celebration of Sound, which featured many of his own musical compositions and arrangements.
Brian Alpert - Drums
Brian has been a student of the drums for 44 years. The list of those he has worked with reads like a "who's who" of the Washington area music scene, including guitarists Danny Gatton, Muddy Waters' Bob Margolin, blues legend Jimmy Thackery, and jazz and blues virtuoso Tom Principato. Brian has also backed-up legendary jazz pianist Mose Allison, accomplished jazz artists Deanna Bogart and Tim Eyermann, and even once supported comedy legend Red Skelton! These days Brian is a member of Doc Scantlin's Imperial Palms Orchestra and recently appeared on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion with the roots rock ensemble Karl Stoll and the Danger Zone. Brian's list of influences is wide ranging, from Ringo Starr and Gene Krupa to many of the great drummers of New Orleans, Louisiana. Read stories culled from his 30+ years on the road on his website, rhumba.com.