Retreat Teachers and Topics

*******These are who we have confirmed so far. More will be posted soon!********

Robin Jackson (he/him)

Retreat Director and Facilitator

An award-winning songwriter, teacher, activist, and spirited impresario, Jackson has dedicated himself to creating connection through art and music.  He is the founder of the Songwriter Soiree, Director of Joy Now youth program, and performs and records internationally as a musician. In addition to directing the retreat, Robin will be leading a workshop on vocal improv and jamming! “A captivating song-crafter, a true storyteller.” – NPR.

Dana Hersh (she/her)

Sound Bath Facilitator and Intuitive Practitioner

Dana is an intuitive, teacher, and healer offering doorways into the wisdom of the Self. She helps people gain clarity, move through blocks, and find self-empowerment through intuitive healing sessions, coaching, sound baths, and retreats. Her work is a unique blend of her clairvoyant gifts, musical background, passion for teaching, and training in a variety of modalities including Aura Reading, Clear Light Healing, Kundalini Yoga, Prana Vinyasa, and current training in the Hakomi Method. Dana deeply values the dedication required to stand in one’s authentic truth, and aspires to remind us how to shine our light brighter each day.

IG @ dana.intuitive

Bernice Lewis (she/her)

Singing and Songwriting Instructor

Bernice Lewis, a Berkshire County resident, has been a nationally recognized touring artist for
almost four decades. She has performed at innumerable festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses,
colleges, and house concerts. She is about to release her eighth recording of original music and
is currently signed to Houston’s Berkalin Records. Lewis is The Artist Associate in Songwriting at Williams College (Williamstown, MA) and founding faculty at Schreiner University’s Songkeeper Program (Kerrville, TX). She has also been an Artist in Residence and workshop presenter at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, Kripalu Center for Yoga in Lenox, MA, Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Yosemite Songwriting Retreat, as well as many other schools and retreat centers. Lewis has toured extensively in the US, Canada, Mexico, and was honored to play in Israel in 2022. She has led eight fan based white water raft trips on The Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and several fan-based trips to Ireland.

According to Rosanne Cash: “Bernice is one of the keepers of the flame of Real Songwriting.” Lewis — who studied vocal improvisation with Bobby McFerrin, guitar technique with Alex
DeGrassi and Guy van Duser, and songwriting with Rosanne Cash and Cris Williamson — has
been a featured performer on NPR’s Mountain Stage program, as well as at the Kennedy
CenterIn 1987, she was a finalist in the prestigious New Folk Songwriting Contest at the
Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival, where she continues to be a main stage favorite. Her ballad,
“Bridges That Hold,” was included in Peter, Paul and Mary’s Lifelines video (PBS). She was
featured in Yoga Journal for her work with sound and yoga, and has shared the stage with many
renowned artists, including Dar Williams, Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin, Pete Seeger, Ellis Paul,Rory Block, Livingston Taylor, Odetta, Christine Lavin, Marty Sexton, Patty Larkin, Catie Curtis, Mary Gauthier… it’s a long list. She has a fifty year old daily yoga practice, loves good coffee, and her religion is the Grand Canyon

Dawn Pemberton (she/her)

Singing and Songwriting Instructor

Vibrant, genuine and soulful, Dawn has deep musical roots that take her powerful voice from gospel and soul to jazz, funk and world music. Dawn has her B.Mus in Jazz Studies from Capilano University and is a certified teacher in Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. She has become a staple of the Vancouver music scene and can often be found tearin’ it up as a vocalist, pianist, teacher, adjudicator, choir director and “go to girl” for live performances and studio sessions. She is currently hosting her own funk, soul, and r&b show called, “Get on The Good Foot” and a weekly Top 30  show called “On The Rise” on CKUA. Prior to March 2020 she spent her time touring with her own original music project as well as, Moira Smiley + VOCO, Vox.Infold, The Bluesberries, and Canadian blues juggernaut,The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer. Dawn has toured extensively throughout Canada and Europe and has performed with musical greats such as  Bettye LaVette, John Boutte, Kenny Werner, Kurt Elling, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Randy Bachman, Ruthie Foster, The Hamiltones, The Sojourners, Linda Tillery and has opened for musical heavyweights Maceo Parker, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Philosopher Kings and Lee Fields. Dawn is the founder and Artistic Director of Roots ‘N’ Wings Women’s Choir and teaches masterclasses and workshops all over North America. Her latest theatre projects include The Jesse Nominated ‘Da Kink in My Hair (Nia), Kinky Boots (Vocal Coach), Beneath Springhill (Vocal Coach), Beautiful: The Carole King Story (Shirelle/Ensemble), Choir Boy (Music Director) with the Arts Club and Canadian Stage and Parade (Vocal Coach) with Raincity Theatre Company. Dawn’s debut solo album, Say Somethin’, released on DoRight! Music won Best Urban Recording at the 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards and has received praise from around the globe forecasting her as “…the  new queen of Canadian soul.”  A passionate educator and performer, Dawn approaches music with a sense of adventure, quirkiness, and serious groove and shapes it into her own unique and dynamic package. Tight, expressive and bold, Dawn will hit you where it counts, funk you up and make you say “Go ‘head!”.

Hannah Sophia (they/them)

Teaching Artist-Singing and Songwriting Instructor

If you’re wondering what a Teaching Artist is, you need to look no further than the name. I am both a teacher and an artist and my work is deeply rooted both in the arts and education.
I live where pedagogy and artistry meet and I use my work as an artist to inform my teaching and vice versa. 

In the eight years since I started my studio I have successfully crowd funded,  recorded and released 5 EP’s. Posted over 50 (and counting) original songs on Patreon and finished a first draft of an autobiographical musical, all while transforming the lives of hundreds of students through the power of music. 

My career has been a gift, and like all of my creative pursuits, I want to make everything I’ve learned as accessible as possible. I’m passionate about creating and holding space for others to tell their stories and find healing, as they connect to their hearts, through music.

Jason “Krivo” Flores (he/they)

Music and Songwriting Instructor

Jason “Krivo” Flores, has been a professional musician for over 25 years and is known for playing upright bass with Taarka, Vagabond Opera, and Climbing Poetree, and has recorded or performed with many well-known artists including Steve Kimock (Grateful Dead), Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), Hunter Paye, The Everyone Orchestra, and more. He studied Jazz Improvisation and composition at the University of New Mexico and has a degree in Philosophy from Portland State. Krivo has taught musical collaboration at Culture Jam, a non-profit arts and social-justice-based self-empowerment summer camp for teens, since 2016. He has also taught the philosophy of language and presented workshops on healthy relating, consensual non-monogamy, and mental health. He also plays the Mexican guitarron, mandolin, mandola, and cajon.He currently plays bass, mandolin, and mandola in the group DeMarcus and the Deep End.

In addition to performing Jason also builds and designs his artisan pickups for bass and guitar. Check them out at

Ken Gaines (he/him)

Singing and Songwriting Instructor

Performing nationwide and writing songs for over 50 years, Ken has been
teaching the art and craft of songwriting for the over 2 decades. He’s
presented lectures and workshops for Folk Alliance International,
Southwest Regional Folk Alliance, NSAI, the Houston Songwriters
Association, and dozens of independent organizations. He currently
teaches every Wednesday night at Artichoke Music and, every summer for
the past 13 years, travels to Kerrville Texas to teach for the Kerrville
Music Camp for Teens.

Ken was the 2005 Texas Music Awards Singer/Songwriter of the Year. He’s
attended the Kerrville Folk Festival for 35 years with over a dozen official
performances in that time. He also produced and hosted a songwriters in
the round at Houston’s legendary Anderson Fair for 2 1⁄2 decades.
Since moving to Oregon last October Ken has been active locally with
Songwriter Soiree, Artichoke Music, Influence Music Hall, the Portland
Hostel Cafe music series, and is a board member of the Portland
Folkmusic Society.

Jorah LaFleur (she/her)

Spoken Word Poet

Jorah LaFleur is a writer/performer who enjoys wearing many different hats. She finds herself on stage as a spoken word poet, event emcee, actor, and interviewer. Offstage, she works with youth as a teaching artist. Each role engages her relentless curiosity about cultivating connection through creative communication. Jorah is currently serving as the lead Writer in Residence at the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Wordcrafters in Eugene. She is committed to helping others experience the power of being seen/heard, and to promoting the arts as tools of social change, and community building.

For over a decade (2006 to 2019), she ran the Eugene Poetry Slam, which gifted her with a wealth of stage hosting experience, and a front row seat to the recitation of thousands of original poems. She is left forever convinced that: 1) Live performance is, literally, magical. 2) Being vulnerably honest with willing strangers is medicinal for everyone involved. 3) Pain tastes best when it is sprinkled with humor, liberally.

Jorah has been writing and performing for 25 years. Her favorite color is zebra.

Lewis Childs (he/him)

Songwriting instructor

Lewis Childs is a songwriter, performer, educator and recording engineer based in Portland, Oregon. Born in Los Angeles, California he started playing electric guitar at the age of 13 and studied musical theater at Cuesta College, and vocal performance at the U of O school of Music. He has performed all over the world and has taught workshops at educational institutions throughout the Pacific Northwest. His artistic collaborations include harmonica virtuoso Joe Powers, Márcio daLari (Brazilian Master of Percussion), Maggie Wheeler (actress and singer known for her work on the popular T.V. show “Friends”), Galen Clark (Trio Subtonic) and Robin Jackson (Singer-Songwriter and musician). You can often find him working at, Groundswell Studios, where he works to produce emerging artists and foster the next generation of talent by offering music instruction for kids and adults.

Nick Harris (he/him)

Yoga Instructor

Drummer. Musician. Entrepreneur. Yoga. Inspirational Speaker. Dream Chaser! = Spreader of MUSIC, LOVE & POSITIVITY! P.O.P.

Yoga has been the element of life that allows Nick to harness a multitude of robust experiences into a practice based in gratitude, presence and energetic flow. Through disciplined self-reflection and powerful daily self-improvement practices, Nick will arrive to class equally humbled and excited to share the yoga experience with you.

Nick can be found instructing Yoga classes in Portland, OR, and is currently accepting private & semi-private yoga clients.

Omar Ruiz-Lopez (he/him)

Singing and Songwriting Instructor

Omar Ruiz-Lopez (he/him) is a distinguished musician and educator with a remarkable command over multiple instruments, including violin, viola, guitar, and mandolin. His extensive teaching expertise extends to coaching chamber music ensembles, conducting, song arrangement and composing.

Born in Panama and raised in Puerto Rico, Omar’s early exposure to traditional Caribbean folk songs, courtesy of his father, laid the foundation for his deep appreciation for music. Spanish is his first language, and it remains an integral part of his cultural identity.

Together with Lizzy Ross, Omar co-founded the Americana group Violet Bell, where their collaboration seamlessly intertwines top-notch songwriting with a variety of musical landscapes. Omar, a bilingual songwriter and composer, crafts music that beautifully reflects his cultural roots entwined with a rich tapestry of diverse musical influences.

With a wealth of experience in music business, production, and engineering, Omar is not only a skilled performer but also a dedicated educator. His role as a Teaching Artist underscores his commitment to shaping the next generation of musicians.

As a Latine immigrant and a versatile musician spanning multiple genres, Omar has a unique ability to connect with diverse international audiences. His music serves as a bridge, fostering understanding and appreciation across cultural boundaries.

Sara Tone (she/her)

Drum Instructor

Sara Tone has been teaching and performing music in the Portland area since 2005. She is a graduate of the The Evergreen State College and has taught a variety of classes to both kids and adults including Intro to West African Drumming and Community and Performance Choirs. Sara’s strengths are songs rooted in heartfelt messages about life and social justice. She is a consummate song crafter and expert of West African Drumming. She will be offering workshops on drumming as accompaniment, jamming and voice. Sara’s intention as a teacher is to help build strong foundations in rhythm, voice, hearing and feeling music through awareness, technique, and JOY!!! 

Find out more at