Leadership team

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KIM KENNY

Founder 

Indianapolis-based singer, songwriter and educator, Kim Kenny has been performing for as long as she can remember. She made her singing debut with a televised performance at the famed “Apollo Theater” in Harlem, New York. Her gift has taken her to stages across this nation. Some memorable highlights of her career include a performance on the “Steve Harvey Show” as well as the opportunity to share the stage with artist such as The Zach Brown Band, Common, Madonna, Mandy Gonzalez and more. 

 

Deeming music education as her greatest passion, Kim has her Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Marian University. Upon graduation, she emerged into the field of education as a piano accompanist, vocal coach and choral director. Today, she holds a Master’s in music from Butler University and is the founder of the Indy Urban Youth Music Academy. As a coach, she is a classically trained singer with a gift that was cultivated in the gospel church. She has been a vocal coach for 10 years specializing in pedagogical technique associated with Commercial Music, Gospel, and Jazz. Kim juggles her multi-faceted career all while being a mom to her beautiful daughter, Charity.  Click HERE to learn more about Kim.

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Kelly Hershey

Education Systems Specialist

Former Band Director, Curriculum and Instruction Director , English Teacher, Instructional Technology Specialist , and School Administrator ,Kelly Hershey. Some memorable highlights of her career include 2009 induction as a Quincy Jones Music Consortium Star Teacher, NSHSS Educator of Distinction, United Way Education Award, 5 IPS Marching Band Championships, 3 IPS Battle of the Beats Drum Line Championships, Founder of Fire and Finesse Dance Team, and sitting on 2 IDOE Superintendent Advisory Councils for Cultural Competency and Ethnic Studies . Kelly also serves the Indy Chapter of NAACP Education Committee as well as Legal Redress.

 

Urban Teacher Education is Kelly’s passion. Spending the greater portion of her career in action research in Cultural Mismatch in the classroom setting between black students and white teachers . Kelly seeks to lead and train fellow educators to understand how culture impacts learning , so they can better serve in urban schools and be a conduit to the advancement- achievement of black students  Kelly earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Florida State University where she proudly served as Drum Major of the Marching Chiefs in 1997, and Master of Arts in Education Curriculum and Instruction . She holds 2 instructional teaching licenses in music and English language arts 5-12 , building level administration p-12 and district administration director of curriculum and instruction license . Kelly has 1 daughter , Karly who proudly serves our country as a USAF Airman in Ft Lackland Texas . 

MILTON J. KEYS

Educational Technology Specialist

Three words adequately describe Reverend Milton Keys: Preacher, Teacher and Producer.  Keys uses these three gifts to change the world.  Although the was born with cerebral palsy, and a bleak diagnosis, Milton has let nothing stop him from achieving his goals.   Despite being given a two year life expectancy and was supposed to have severe cognitive disabilities Milton has earned 2 degrees.  He has produced and released 13 musical albums, 4 plays, 1 ballet held 8 youth summits and completed numerous small projects in the last decade. Milton’s passion for education is realized through his work developing young recording artists and as a song writing and production instructor for Indy Urban Youth Choir. He has also lectured students of all ages through motivational speaking and poetry.

More importantly, Reverend Keys is a child of God and a preacher of the gospel has been in ministry almost 22 years. He became an ordained minister in 2007 and received has Master of Divinity from Christian Theological Seminary in May 2017. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in ministry from Christian Theological Seminary.  He has delivered sermons to congregations at several services, conferences and national conventions throughout the Midwest.  He has also lectured students of all ages through motivational speaking and poetry.

Teaching Staff

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ASHTON THOMAS

Drum Instructor

Ashton Thomas is a professional drummer and percussionist from Lorain, Ohio. He began playing drums at the age of 3 and was heavily influenced by Jazz fusion music. A self-taught musician, he began his professional career and recorded discography at the age of 16.

 

Memorable moments of his career include touring across the United States, Sweden, and the United Kingdom with various artists such as Soweto Kinch, Keifer Shackelford, J.Drew, Andre Cavor, De’Sean Jones, and many others. He has been an instructor for 10 year with his drumming technique spanning across genre and ranging from beginner, intermediate and advanced level

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MARTHA RILEY

Piano Instructor · Accompianist

Martha Riley has been a private piano instructor for almost 20 years and is the owner of Riley Piano Studio, LLC.  She is currently teaching piano at New Augusta Public Academy North.  She served as the accompanist for Broad Ripple Magnet High School’s Choral Music Department for 15 years and is a graduate of Broad Ripple’s Performing Arts Magnet Program. 

 

She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University-Indianapolis and studied piano under Dr. Martin Marks and voice with Laurel Goetzinger at Butler University.  She is currently the International Music Directress for Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc and is a sought after Accompanist and Church Musician in the city of Indianapolis.  

STEPHEN HELPLING

Guitar Instructor

Stephen Helpling is an Indianapolis based musician/singer/songwriter/producer. He is well-versed in all genres but specializes in Rock, Blues, R&B, and Gospel. 

 

Stephen is active in the Indianapolis music scene as he runs his own studio, releases music with his band “Helpling” and plays for several local artists and churches. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Business with a concentration in Commercial Music from Anderson University. 

ABBY WITT

Strings Instructor · Music Theory Instructor 

Abby Witt is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in cello performance at Butler University. Her music education began the age of 5, studying violin while later settling on the cello at age 11. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, she got her Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance at Eastern Kentucky University. While at Eastern Kentucky University, she won the university’s Concerto Competition and performed the Lalo Cello Concerto with the EKU Symphony Orchestra.  

 

Her teaching experience includes programs such as Friends in Music through the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra, the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, and the Butler Community Arts School. She is currently a student of Dr. William Grubb.

MARKELL D. PIPKINS

Music Education Mentor · Gen Ed Music Instructor

Markell D. Pipkins (he/him/his) was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pipkins is a music educator that specializes in working with choral ensembles. He has been teaching gospel choirs for almost 10 years both in churches and in formal school settings. You can find him at his usual post every Sunday morning as the music director and organist at Scott United Methodist Church. In addition to these duties, he is also an active freelance pianist and vocal performer.

 

A product of the Indianapolis Public Schools system, Pipkins received his high school diploma from Shortridge Magnet HS for Law & Public Policy. Markell has his Bachelors of Music in General/Choral/Vocal Music Education PK-12 from Butler University. Post graduation, he became more active in conducting gospel workshops with choirs from schools such as North Central High School and Butler to name a few. Markell is consistently working at educating the young adults of the world and believes it is his job as an educator to properly equip them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take the world by storm. His philosophy is that as a music educator, it is his business to teach life skills through the vehicle of music.

DONTRELL KELLY

Production Instructor · Accompanist

Dontrell Kelly has accumulated over 10 years of professional experience as a music producer, accompanist, and music educator. He currently serves as the Director of Performing Arts at Ignite Achievement Academy at “Elder Diggs”. Passionate about music production, he is working on several projects with recording artists across the United States. 

 

Kelly is skilled in both Piano and Hammond Organ. He always encourages the creativity of young people, and as a self taught musician, he believes that all things are possible! 

SABIN MARTINEZ

Woodwinds Instructor

At 8 years old, when he first began playing both clarinet and saxophone, Sabin Martinez

knew that he had found a lifelong passion in the music field. As an undergraduate at Eastern Kentucky

University, he was awarded first place in the concerto competition, as well as the regional American

music competition. While at Eastern he found a deep love for teaching and has been a private instructor

for both clarinet and saxophone for 8 years.

 

In 2015, Sabin Martinez auditioned and won a spot in a Kentucky wide search for an African American

Jazz Quartet. This group went on to tour Costa Rica and were the musical guest of honor for the Costa

Rican National Parade. After he graduated from Eastern Kentucky University, Sabin Martinez became an

Assistant Band director for a championship level marching band in Kentucky and continued to extend his

private lesson studio.

 

Sabin Martinez is currently pursuing a master's in music performance from Butler University and is the

graduate assistant for Butlers athletic bands.

Season 3 apprentices

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DEVIN ARCHIE

Music Education

Devin Archie is vocal performance and music education Major at Butler University. He is excited to cultivate his own gifts and the next generation of performers. He has been part of Indy Urban Youth since season 1. He has a desire to pursue his personal artistry as well as teaching and inspiring others. “IUY means the world to me!”, Devin says. He hopes to one day open and operate his own performing arts school inspired through his time with Indy Urban Youth. 

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MIKE LOWERY

Music Business

Michael Lowery, Jr. was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been a member of Indy Urban Youth since it’s inception and is very excited to serve as an apprentice this season. A recent graduate from Herron High School, he was part of the HHS Advanced choir and Concert Choir in which he participated in competitions, festivals and international performances opportunities. Michael is currently at Ivy Tech for general studies. After his time at Ivy Tech he plans to transfer next fall to a local university to study Music business. 

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