Staff and Contributing Artists
Who We Are
It all started over coffee at church 16 years ago. Cuffy Sullivan, the mother of three young daughters, and Roger Moss, an accomplished local singer, lamented the fact that Savannah didn't have an organized choral program for children. They got to work.
Since then, the Savannah Children's Choir, now Coastal Youth Choirs, has developed a reputation for excellence in the city, county, and beyond. In addition to tours in the US, the Premier Choir has performed in England, Ireland, and France and has also appeared on television in South Korea. The singers have experienced artist residencies with world renowned singers and clinicians.
After sixteen years, the mission remains the same – to unite, mentor, and transform the children and youth of greater Savannah and the Low Country into responsible, creative, and confident leaders through excellence in choral performance and music education.
Coastal Youth Choirs/Savannah Children’s Choir, Inc. is one of the few organizations in greater Savannah and the Low Country where kids from different schools, different faiths, and different backgrounds can get to know one another and work together. The choirs have attracted youth singers from Liberty, Bryan, Effingham, and Chatham Counties in Georgia and Hampton and Beaufort Counties in South Carolina. Thus, the reason for the name changes and branding.
Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday after school, children ranging in age from 5-18 gather to rehearse, read music, work on their vocal intonation, and develop important life skills. In addition to two retreats each semester, the singers ramp up their rehearsal schedule for special concerts and performances, devoting countless hours to the pursuit of perfection. Singers can participate in one of three different locations throughout Chatham County: historic downtown Savannah, Wilmington Island and Pooler in West Chatham County. We are hoping to add Bluffton, South Carolina to the list of rehearsals soon.
"It takes quite a commitment," says co-founder, Roger Moss. "They learn the benefit of hard work. I continue to expect great things from these children and youth in greater Savannah and the Low Country. I couldn't be prouder and more humbled at the same time. We want to expand children's knowledge of American music, from Gullah to Appalachia to jazz, focusing on all of these forms that are distinctly American. It's not just about learning the music. It's about knowing where the music comes from," he said.
Moss believes that singing serves as an important way to communicate, to connect with others and to express emotion. "We were born singing," he said. "Children love to sing and hum and make up songs. This is one thing that's innate and universal in all children."
Under the direction of Executive and Artistic Director, Gif Lockley continues to rebuild the program after a turbulent couple of years. In addition to adding rehearsals all over the county, the choir will expand the Coastal Youth Choirs Choral Foundations Program. With a generous grant from the Cultural Arts Commission of the City of Savannah, Gulfstream, and the Plant Riverside Entertainment District we are working each week with general music teachers and choral educators to build the programs in their schools.
The Savannah Children’s Choir, Inc. (DBA) Coastal Youth Choirs is a nonprofit, community supported, choral organization whose mission is to unite, mentor, and transform the children and youth of greater Savannah and the Low Country into responsible, creative, and confident leaders through excellence in choral performance and music education.
2006 – 2019 Co-Founder & Executive Director
Roger Moss, Jr. is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee where he received numerous awards for civic and artistic accomplishments. He graduated from Wheaton College and sang in the Wheaton College Concert Choir and Men’s Glee Club. His extensive performance career has included singing for the Archbishop of Canterbury, singing to sold out crowds with the Savannah Symphony Orchestra and performing the role of “Jake” in the Opera Memphis production of Porgy and Bess. He was a finalist in the American Traditions vocal competition.
Moss’ aim when co-founding the Savannah Children’s Choir was to create a positive way for Savannah’s children to represent their community and showcase positive accomplishments. Also, through education and performance, to instill in the next generation a love of the beauty and variety of American music. His boundless energy and enthusiasm are an inspiration to all who work with him, as is his life philosophy which is, “You can never dream too big!”
2016-2018 Jean Faircloth Artistic Director Emeritus
Mrs. Wooten joined the artistic staff of the Savannah Children’s Choir in the winter of 2015 as the director of the Preparatory Choir. In the fall of 2017, she began her role as SCC’s Artistic Director. Mrs. Wooten also serves as a music educator in the Chatham County Public School System, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2007. Prior to settling in Savannah, she taught music at the high school and collegiate levels. In addition to nearly 20 years in the classroom, Mrs. Wooten is a private voice instructor, serving students of many ages and abilities and teaches music in the special needs ministry at Bible Baptist Church. Mrs. Wooten earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Shorter University in Rome, Georgia and her Master’s degree in Vocal Pedagogy from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Her professional affiliations include National Association of Teachers and Singing (NATS), National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA). Mrs. Wooten resides in Savannah, GA with her husband, Jody and their three children-James, Jaci and Joseph.
Jean Faircloth Principal Conductor, 2019-2020
Melinda Fradley just finished her 25th year as a music educator for Volusia County Schools, having received a BME and MEL from Stetson University. She has been the choral director at DeLand High School for the past 11 years, growing the program from 50 students to now 250 students. Daily, she conducted 8 ensembles which received state recognition for being superior level choirs. The beginning of her career was spent teaching music in the elementary schools in Volusia County. One of her greatest joys was the 10 years she spent conducting the Apprentice Choir with the Stetson University Children’s Choir alongside Dr. Ann Small.
Fradley has participated in post-graduate studies with Dr. Duncan Couch, and Dr. Andrew Larson, in both choral conducting and choral history as well as working with Dr. Rodney Eichenberger, Charles Bruffy and Dr. James Jordan during their summer workshops. Under her direction, the DeLand High Chorus has been invited to sing for the 2010 Florida State School Board Association Conference. In 2014, her Chamber Women had the honor of performing for President Sirleaf of Liberia, and in 2015, Fradley and her choirs traveled to New York to perform in Carnegie Hall under the direction of Dr. Andre Thomas.
As an active member of NAfME and ACDA, she has served as Florida ACDA High School Honors Chair, and is an adjudicator for FVA. Fradley is currently a member and president of the professional choir, The Festival Singers of Florida, and served as the All-County Choir Chair for Volusia County for the past 8 years. She has been named Teacher of the Year twice; 1999, McInnis Elementary and 2014, DeLand High School. Melinda is a mother of two sons, Hagen and Dale, and she enjoys “porch time” with friends, reading and traveling the world.