Greensboro, NC
336-215-6220
needinfo@highlandnorth.net

HNM Staff

        Donnie Wright

Founder & Artistic Director

Donnie Wright was born in Greensboro, North Carolina and has lived there all his life. Donnie grew up around country, 50’s rock and bluegrass musicians, and started playing guitar at age 14 and excelled with his passion for music. After getting married to Deborah, his high school sweetheart in 1989 and then giving his life to Christ in 1991, he began pushing his way toward helping church worship teams with the ability that God had granted him. Donnie Graduated College in 1995 and became a IT Engineer for BB&T bank. In 1996, he became one of the worship leaders for the triads Vineyard Church and soon after became a vocalist and lead guitarist for Greensboro’s World Harvest Church. In 2003, Donnie launched his own IT company, Core Technologies and started working with Greensboro’s Daystar Church; his company grew to help build great data-based networks for local churches and went on to help build one of the top Worship Teams in the triad. Also, during this time, as his three beautiful girls danced for Pleasant Ridge Fine Arts Academy, he had the honor of becoming friends with Suzanne Hock, which co-directed the dance school and needed a guitar teacher. So Donnie joined the team and taught guitar for Pleasant Ridge and then Greensboro Performing Arts, for the next four years. Around late 2006, Donnie broke off from Greensboro Performing Arts and opened Highland North Music. With about 15 students and many dedicated parents, Highland North Music went on to push nearly 100 students per week by 2016.

Located on Battleground Ave, Highland North Music has helped students reach their highest potential in their passion for music and develop great skill levels through different genera’s including, Rock, Country, Blues, Reggae, Worship and Contemporary Christian just to name a few.

Around 2010, Donnie started also started working with an awesome group of musicians, Mick and David Farlow, Tian Garcia, Paul Foster and Josh Boyd at The Cathedral of His Glory. Within just a couple years, Josh joined the Highland North Music team and started building an awesome Drum department. By 2011, Donnie went on to join up as one of The Cathedrals lead guitarist and help produce one of the greatest Christmas Productions in the State of North Carolina.

In growing Highland North Music, we have continued to build spectacular Christmas and spring concerts working together as a music team with teachers and students. At Highland North Music great pride is taken in our students and we continue to push the ideas of Learning and Performing.

Donnie has built the school with an awesome staff of dedicated musicians that know the importance of teaching fundamentals of music and passionately growing; never forgetting the most under used and over looked idea of music: FUN! “If it is not FUN, then WHY are you doing it at all!” We truly believe Music can be learned just as easy as a child that in just five short years went from birth to saying mom to being able communicate with college level professors, without a super course in English nor even being able to read! WOW!

Now entering into our 13th season and knowing that the future is bright, Donnie and his team make ready to grow, grow, grow into Highland North Music’s awesome future!

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        Michael Naylor

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Administrator & Bass Coach

Michael Naylor started off his journey into music in middle school playing trombone.  Quickly finding a love for music, over the course of middle school and high school Michael took home other instruments to learn and taught himself a wide variety of wind instruments from Saxophones to Tubas.  Borrowing a friend’s electric guitar in high school armed with a chord poster, guitar became another instrument learned, leading into stringed instruments.  Towards the end of high school, as a favor to a friend’s band he filled in playing bass for a gig at the last minute and fell in love.  Having started on trombone, bass guitar became a natural fit.

In 2003 upon moving to Greensboro to attend UNCG Michael found Daystar church, and after running sound for a few years began playing bass with the praise and worship team.  It was during this time that Michael became great friends with Donnie Wright and began helping with recitals for Highland North Music.  As time moved on, Highland North Music became bigger, and Michael became more involved with helping out in other facets beyond just playing with the school band.  This lead to more new instruments being learned including the mandolin in some bluegrass sets.  After graduating from UNCG with a B.S. in Computer Science, he has continued to be involved with Highland North Music both as a musician and any other facets needed.

Through helping with Highland North Music, Michael has enjoyed expanding his musical knowledge both in theory, practice and in new learning endeavors.  Michael is thankful for the friendships cultured through Highland North and thoroughly enjoys serving with the Highland North staff.  He is greatly looking forward to what the future holds for this school and the future musicians of the Triad.

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             Iris Crowe

Iris is also a native of Greensboro and was exposed from birth to music and dance thanks to her mother who shared her love of the performing arts with her daugher. During elementary school and high school Iris studied piano, guitar, voice, dance and drama. She performed with the school choruses, special vocal ensembles and in high school drama productions. In the summer before her senior year she attended the Easter Music Festival in Greensboro as an on campus vocal student. It was during her senior year where she got her first taste of being the lead singer in a rock band, “Ezra”, and found her passion.

During the next two years working and traveling with “Ezra” she came close to permanently damaging her voice due to overuse and misuse and knew it was time to regroup. She then studied at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as a Voice Major in the School of Music. This lasted a year and even though the experience was invaluable, she knew she had to return to her true love which was rock. From that time on Iris performed as lead singer in area bands Enticer, Subway, Barracuda and Shadowplay. She was also involved with various recording projects with the most recent project being with a group called Visions of Venus where they were able to professionally record 2 discs.

Her love for music and performance is a large part of who Iris is and with age and life experiences has come a desire to use her talent and experience as a force for good.

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          Vance Archer
Vance Archer

Vance D. Archer III has been a musician for over 60 years with a career that spans from classical cello and in the Family String Quartet to 30 years of leading Folk Music, Irish Celli and Contra Dance bands in the greater New York City/New Jersey region.

Since moving to Greensboro in 2005, Vance has become active in the Triad Music and Art Scene. He plays fiddle in the Irish Pub Band, Banna and the Bluegrass Band “821“. Vance convenes the Triad Fiddlers, a circle that teaches old time and Irish fiddle tunes and techniques to all, and the folk music circle “Bishop’s Bridge” which plays acoustic music from all traditions. Vance hosts a monthly “Traveling Hootenanny” where folks join for an evening of socialization and singing.

Vance performs a monthly solo concert series in various Triad Assisted Living venues. For these solo performances he plays Guitar, Autoharp and Fiddle while leading the singing. He also provides solo and duet background entertainment at social gatherings and trade shows. Vance can gather the proper mix of musicians to accommodate most musical venues.

Vance would rather practice outside than inside. He can often be seen strolling in the Bog Garden, Bicentennial Gardens, Country Park or the Arboretum fiddling with his dog Jolly tied to his belt.

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           Mike Highfill

Mike Highfill

My music career began at the age of 10 when I started playing trumpet at Frazier Elementary School. It was in my Jr. High years that I discovered guitar and bass, on which I was self-taught. During High School, in addition to trumpet, I also played fluegel horn, French horn, and baritone. I was a diligent, dedicated music student. My horn came home and was used daily, even if my other books didn’t! I was definitely a band nerd. With the exception of the 7th grade(where the older kids had 1st section covered, from elementary through high school I was in the 1st trumpet section, always competing for first chair and achieving that goal the majority of my young career. I graduated in 1980 from Northeast Guilford High School,and briefly attended UNC-G School of Music.

After working several years managing my father’s commercial janitorial business, I attended the School of Nursing at Guilford Technical Community College, where I tutored fellow nursing students in biology, pharmacology and nutrition. This led to a 21-year career in clinical nursing, primarily in Critical Care areas, i.e. ER, CCU, Post Anesthesia, and many years in a ventilator hospital. I had the good fortune to be lead EKG and Advanced Cardial Life Support review instructor for 3 years at the Sugical Center of Greensboro.

After much soul searching and prayer, I decided to retire from nursing in 2010. A friend in church owned a screen porch, sun room, and garage door installation business and I worked with him until the construction business fell apart nationally. I only lost my job; my friend lost his 22-year business. Employment opportunities were beyond scarce outside of nursing and I questioned my decision to leave it, but as always, God had a plan that put me where I needed to be. Both my mom and step-dad would become gravely ill at the same time, which required me to take care of both of them. My step-dad has since passed away and my mother has returned to her home in Summerfield but still requires help, which I am able to provide.

While my trumpet playing days ended around 1980, my passion for music has never left, playing guitar and/or bass with many talented musicians and several bands, both secular and Contemporary Christian since. My musical interests are too varied to list but simply put, if it’s good music, genre doesn’t matter. There is a reason we still listen to Mozart! I have been writing songs since High School and have co-written with other musicians, which continues to the present. It is my absolute belief that music is a God-given gift and therefore is meant to be shared. I look forward to helping students learn and grow in and for this art!

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        Shane Wheeler

Shane wheeler has been a resident of the city of Greensboro his whole life. He attended Kernodle middle school where his saxophone talent had taken place. “It was funny” he says. “I actually was gonna going to play percussion in middle school thinking the saxophone was weird.” growing up around his parents musical influence of r&b, 90s jazz, neo-soul, and also some gospel, he knew the saxophones sound and knew how powerful it is and finally came to his decision. Shane has been playing the saxophone for 6 years currently and is using his talent to its full ability playing at Cathedral of His Glory as well as school. He plays his baritone and alto saxophone whenever he has free time.

“Most people believe the bari to look odd since most people have not seen one.”

Shane is currently attending UNCG studying Jazz.

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        Louis Loveland

Louis Loveland, and 22-year-old Philadelphian, has been playing trumpet since he was in fourth grade. He began taking private lessons in fifth grade, and was playing the Star-Spangled Banner solo at the elementary school spring concert by the time that school year was over.

Come sixth grade, Louis auditioned and successfully joined the middle school jazz band as early as he could, with the jazz band mostly consisting of seventh and eighth graders. In the jazz band format, Louis became much more competitive, utilizing improvisation in his jazz solos, practicing day in, day out to stay a top dog in his trumpet section. In jazz competition, Louis took home the Outstanding Soloist Award in both seventh and eighth grade.

In high school, Louis rejoined the jazz band, but also participated heavily in his marching band, becoming trumpet section leader in his junior year. Since graduating high school, Louis has continued playing his instrument nonstop, practicing every day and often performing at local open mics.

These days, he has evolved his love of jazz improvisation into a habit of playing purely by ear, often jamming with anybody and everybody who is willing to make good sounding music. While Louis is undoubtedly a performer at heart, he still has a love for teaching and feels it would be a shame not to share his musical knowledge with the younger generation.

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        Elizabeth Ponzi

Elizabeth is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and current master’s student at UNC Greensboro. She completed her undergraduate studies in psychology and kinesiology and minored in music. Elizabeth has been playing the violin since she was just three years old, beginning in the Suzuki program.

For her high school senior project, she and two friends in the highly-regarded J. H. Rose High School orchestra launched a program called “Music Across Greenville”. This program was a response to the
cuts in school music programs in the area and allowed her and a team of high school music students to go into elementary schools and expose the kids to string, wind, brass, and percussion instruments through short performances by the MAG team and hands-on experience stations for the kids.

Throughout the years, she has been a part of many prestigious orchestras such as Eastern Regional Orchestra, Governor’s School of North Carolina, and the UNC Symphony Orchestra. Aside from orchestral music, Elizabeth also enjoys recording more modern popular music with fellow musician friends and playing at church. Elizabeth has 10 years’ experience teaching the violin.

In addition to her violin studies, Elizabeth is also an accomplished guitarist. After studying guitar in college, she found a new love for playing jazz, but also tends to gravitate towards blues, “bluesy-pop”, and soul. Elizabeth also plays guitar at church and has 7 years’ experience teaching guitar both in groups and individually.

Elizabeth’s favorite performers, artists and bands include John Mayer, Tori Kelly, Joshua Bell, The Beatles, Leon Bridges, Elbow, Michael Jackson, and Jacob Collier. In her free time (which is not too much as a working graduate student!), she likes to play soccer and relax with her dog, Princess.

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       Donna Devou

Donna graduated High School, took a nursing aide course at a community college, and went on to work at a medium size insurance company and then later on, a very large insurance company. She left that position to raise her new daughter. She stayed home with her for 2 years and decided she wanted and needed to get back into the business world.

She sought a part time position with a trucking company in 1984, beginning as a delivery driver, then a driver’s supervisor and eventually an operations manager and enjoyed that position very much. It was very fast paced and what she likes to call a bit crazy at times. While taking on a lot of extra tasks with that company she enjoyed performing her job and extra tasks.

In the year 1997 at 40 years old, she applied for a position as a handler with a very large and well known company. She was hired and started at an airport with them and later became a driver. She did that for about 9 years and then decided that driving on the ice and snow for that amount of time was wearing her down. She decided to transfer to a warmer state and also took a position with the same company that was off the road. She felt that this was a healthy decision and also a good career move for future advancement. She began in the South as a team leader with the same company and she was once again in charge of many employees in a similar position as a lower level management position. She was in charge of getting product that is moved from aircraft to the sorting facility. She was in charge of transferring this product to various locations, getting hundreds of products sorted, scanned, reloaded and sent out on aircraft or trucks in an extremely on time manner. She did not have seconds to spare or she would have been considered responsible for the operation being late. It was a fast paced and she really did enjoy it immensely. She enjoyed the people that worked with her and also felt that she had gained their trust and earned their respect.

She is extremely interested in advancing her career with HNM and has been interested in building, recruiting and bringing in leads and clientele since she worked for the first trucking company in 1984. She had begun her college education with University of Phoenix because she felt that this was the best way for her to gain the knowledge and to be able to pursue her dreams. She feels that she can and will do very well in this field in her career choice. She has completed her Associate’s Degree with University of Phoenix in December, 2009 and she is very proud and excited about her successes up to this point. From the beginning of her learning experience with her previous career choices and University of Phoenix, she is excited to be where she is in her progress in bettering herself for her future goals.

She loves music and looks forward to working and participating with HNM.

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       Henry Tardy

Henry Tardy was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in December, 2001. Though he did not start playing music
until 6th grade, he has been surrounded it all of his life. Both of Henry’s parents would play a major role
in spreading the love of music throughout his life, both in a church setting and just around the house.

In the beginning of 6th Grade, Henry picked up trombone in the Northern Guilford Middle school concert
band, thus starting his music career. Over the past 6 years, Henry taken part in the NGHS concert band
and the NGHS jazz band playing Trombone.

At the end of 6th grade, Henry joined the NGMS Marching band playing trombone, but it was watching
the Drumline that really made him interested. Not long after that, he began to start playing drums, learning
basic rudiments and the cadences that we’re played in the Northern Drumline. This was fun to him, but the
progress was slow without the proper sources needed to learn, but not for long.

In February of 2014, Henry joined Highland North Music for drum lessons. This is where Henry would start
his journey into drumset and music performance. He has learned a multitude of skills and musical styles
ranging from funk and jazz, to rock and metal.

Henry is currently pursuing a job as a sound engineer and a studio musician. He loves to volunteer in church
and is the current drum captain of the NGHS Drumline. Henry loves spreading the gift of music to anyone who
wants to receive it, and wants to share it with aspiring musician young and old.