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HNM Staff

Donnie Wright

Founder & Artistic Director

Donnie Wright was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. His background is in 50’s rock and bluegrass music. He started playing guitar around age 14 and excelled with a passion for music. He has a wonderful family including his beautiful wife, Deborah, three beautiful girls, and two awesome grandchildren. He formed Highland North Music in 2006 and is the General Manager and Events Coordinator of the main facility.

He is a graduate of Liberty University where he acquired a BA in Interdisciplinary Education and a MA in Music Education. 

He built HNM with the importance of teaching the most fundamental element of music: FUN! “If what you are doing is not “FUN”, then “WHY” do it at all!” He believes anyone can learn music easily and in the same short time that a child takes to learn their first language; normally in just three to four years, without complicated theory nor the ability to read music! He believes music is a vital source for learning and should be regarded by every school as a core subject throughout the twelve years of education. He believes that music must become a normal part of every child’s education process.


Michael Naylor

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.


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.


Jeanna Bridges

Jeanna Bridges has had a lifelong love of Music and Art. She began taking piano lessons since age 6
and always found a place in her church choirs and school choruses. During her teen years, she attended
Cannon Music Camp Summer Program at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.

Her family held membership at Trinity AME Zion Church, where her mother, Joan, a locally and regionally
well known singer, and then Minister of Music, Dr. Charlotte Alston, continued Jeanna’s Classical voice
and piano training.

At this time, Jeanna also began to develop her love of Jazz thru exploring her father, James’s,
record collection. She graduated from Dudley High School and attended Bennett College on a
Music scholarship. While at Bennett, Jeanna began intensive studies in Music Theory,
Church Music, Opera and Organ and was a regular featured soloist in the Bennett College Choir.

When plans changed, Jeanna transferred to Winston-Salem State University, where her mother Joan,
was an alumna. Like her mother, she joined the University Choir and continued her vocal studies with
Dr. James Kinchen, who also taught her Composition, Conducting and she also became a nighttime DJ
at the school’s radio station, WSNC and produced a Classical Music show featuring Dr. Kinchen.

Plans changed again and Jeanna landed at UNCG to continue her studies in Psychology and
Broadcasting. She earned a regular spot at WUAG-FM and her show focused on Jazz and International
Music. Upon graduation, she decided to begin a teaching career with Guilford County Schools in Special

Opportunity took her to Tampa,Fl to teach in Hillsborough County. While there, Jeanna continues
exploring her love of International music and enjoying the Arts and Live Music scene, singing in church
and community choirs during the holidays and participated in the Flags Along Bayshore Community
Choir for the 9/11 observance.

After many years in Tampa Bay, family obligation brought Jeanna back home to North Carolina. She
taught in Thomasville City, Guilford County and Winston –Salem/Forsyth County systems and at GTCC.
In returning home to her family, Jeanna experienced one of the greatest thrills of her life in singing with
her mother, Joan, in the Sanctuary Choir at Trinity AME Zion Church and being a featured soloist.

Jeanna also began to explore her love of acting and has appeared in productions with Community Theatre of
Greensboro and City Arts’ FRINGE Festival. Her love of music brought her to Highland North Music School
to explore her vocal skill in Rock and Jazz as a student of Iris Crowe and playing piano and singing with the
school’s Barely Upright Band. Now she joins the Staff officially to teach piano and voice.


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.


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!


Mike Carney

Mike Carney was born Asheville, North Carolina in late 1994 but moved to Wake County three years later. Orlando Florida in 2000. Mike moved back to North Carolina in 2003 and resided in Chapel Hill, where he first began to show interest in music. While he originally trying to learn bass guitar player, Mike couldn’t resist to play a set of drums whenever possible.

Mike began playing percussion in his middle school’s band in 2006. The following year, he would receive a drum set for Christmas at the age of 13. He seemed like he always knew what to play the moment he sat on the throne despite having no prior instructions.

Mike would go on to join the Chapel Hill High School Marching Band in 2009 as a member of the drumline. This is where Mike learned to increase his diligence as a serious musician and developed healthy physical, social, and learning habits. Mike also would play Sunday youth group services at New Hope Church in Durham, NC until finishing high school. Mike also thrived in the school’s Jazz program, while winning an Outstanding Soloist Award at the 2012 Elon Jazz Festival. Then would win CHHS’s Most Outstanding Percussionist Award, Student elected “Drum Kit Master” Award, and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in 2013.

Mike got hint of GTCC’s Entertainment Technologies Program. He began attending GTCC classes in 2015 in Recording Engineering. Mike decided to make the switch to Commercial Music in 2017 because during participating in a leadership work study at New Hope Church mainly playing services at their various satellite locations, Mike felt his abilities were put to better use as a professional drummer.

Mike was featured in GTCC’s 2017 production of Romeo and Juliet:Promenade ,demonstrating his cajon abilities in the moving pit orchestra. He also began to develop his talents as a singer as well in GTCC’s Performance Ensemble including performances of songs such as the Talking Head’s ‘Slippery People’, Peter Gabriel’s ‘Mercy Street’, and The B 52’s ‘Love Shack’. Many were performed while playing drums. Mike was recognized very highly his peers and instructors for taking on musical leadership in his ensembles.

Now Mike has obtained an Associates in Applied Science degree in Commercial Music this year from GTCC’s Larry Gatlin School of Entertainment Technology. He aspires to continue his journey as a drummer, musician, and educator by helping those eager to learn new skills along the way. Mike Carney has joined Highland North Music School because he feels that he can help contribute to a caring, passionate learning environment they provide for its students and share his love for the art of drumming and music.


Robbie Caballero

Roberto (Robbie) Caballero works as the Chief Data Officer for the City of Greensboro and is passionate about his career, his family, and music. Robbie has a long history of classical training starting at the magnet school David D. Jones Elementary School. He learned piano, violin, and trumpet during that time and carried on playing trumpet in public school through his sophomore year of high school at Grimsley High. During the summer of his sophomore year, he took up the trombone at the request of the band teacher and has continued on ever since. Robbie went to UNCG for trombone performance, studying under Dr. Randy Kohlenberg, and received his Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance. Robbie is found on stages performing various venues singing, playing piano, and trombone.


Louis Loveland

Louis Loveland, a Philadelphian who moved south, 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.


Jessica “Erin” Hayes

Jessica “Erin” Hayes is an accomplished flutist, bassist, and vocalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. She has been involved with flute and musical performance for over 30 years.

Erin’s first instruments were piano and recorder at the age of 9, but she quickly found her passion in the flute which she played in Southside Christian School’s concert band. In that time, she has continued to learn and expand her vast and adaptable play styles. This included a great love of marching and concert bands, both of which she participated in at Rockingham County High School.

In recent years, Erin has composed, performed and recorded with several regional artists such as indie rock singer/songwriter Matty Sheets, pop cover band Second Glance, and her father, Americana artist Mitch Hayes. In addition to flute, she is also a bassist, saxophonist and vocalist. The vast ranges of music with which she’s involved have provided a wealth of learning and growth opportunities.

Erin has also worked with children in multiple capacities throughout her life. She has been a beginner’s swim coach and freelance art tutor for the past 10 years. Her favorite part about working with children is their sense of humor and creativity.

Erin Hayes is married to John Chenoweth and “mother” of Gwynn and Strider, their 2 dogs.


Marc B Moffitt

Marc grew up in Greensboro N.C. in a musical family. His parents sang professionally all their lives and Marc
and brother Joel grew up in that musical environment. Marc was an avid music listener from a young age of 8
and enjoyed a wide variety of genres from classical, top 40 to rock and everything in between.  This has
influenced his musicianship throughout the years creating a well-rounded performer and teacher.

Marc got his first drum set at the age of 12 and started piano at age 6. He and his older brother, Joel, played actively together from 6 th -10 th grades in a number of garage bands. Later Marc played drums in Jazz Band in high school. Right after high school Marc toured professionally full time for 9 years as drummer with a contemporary Christian band called “The Bridge”. The band traveled 40 states, Toronto and Mexico (including tour bus and 4 recorded albums).

After coming off the road, while a student at Liberty Christian College in Florida, he began his teaching career both on campus and at Dollarhide Music Store in Pensacola. Through the years Marc has always been actively involved with contemporary praise and worship teams, playing piano and drums. This led to staff leadership positions with his church as music worship team director and to a unique opportunity to help facilitate other churches transition from traditional to contemporary worship, building worship teams and youth bands from the ground up.

Even off the road Marc has played with such local bands as progressive-punk, rock band “2nd Eve”, Christian rock band and recording artist “5 Man Jesus Band”, recording artist “Visions of Venus” and others.

Today Marc is the drummer for local Top 40 band “Second Glance”.  Marc has been an active member/supporter of HNM since 2009 and today continues his support, teaching with a unique approach, emphasizing the passion of playing with heart n’ soul while also teaching fundamentals of music in various playing styles, hand-foot coordination and basic rudimental studies. 



Hunter Routh

Hunter Routh is an experienced guitar player of 16 years. Primary he is self-taught but he has a few teachers throughout his time of playing. He has played, recorded and written for various genres: Acoustic, Blues, Country, Hip-Hop, Rock, R&B, Metal, with producers and other musicians, some of whom were Grammy award winners.

He is a huge fan of playing live and finds it to be his favorite part of being an artist/musician. He’s been in Acoustic Duo’s, Country/Southern Rock band, Hip-Hop/Pop bands and a couple of Metal bands. He has taught guitar as a private teacher for three years and now is joining our team. 


Brendan Hinch

Brendan Hinch is a rising Greensboro musician and performer having started his musical progression at he age of 6. Inspired by his older brother, he began learning the guitar and soon found interest in many other instruments and ways of expression.

His consuming passion for music soon lead him to explore vocal capabilities, and has been supported musically by North Carolina legends such as Sheila Klinefelter, Chuck Cotton, and others who are known as notable local heroes.

Brendan attended his first blues jam at the age of 10 at Koronda’s where he found exposure to the rhythm and tonalities of the blues, where he grew passion and interest in many genres, techniques,
and styles of music.

He became further involved in different groups and projects and has played at many venues and local areas such as the Van Dyke Center, Labour Park (Folk Fest, The Blue Note (Durham), and other bar/restaurants and breweries as far away as Patchogue NY.


Ian Miller

Ian Miller was born on February 21, 2008. Ian has had a love for music since he was a toddler. The first instrument Ian played was the piano. He took piano lessons for 2 years. Around 10 years old, Ian decided he wanted to learn how to play the guitar. His parents bought him an acoustic guitar and he picked up quickly. He took lessons for about 1 year with a private teacher and was self-taught. He wanted to learn more rock/hard rock and his dad bought him his first Stratocaster in 2019.

He began taking lessons with Donnie Wright at Highland North Music School and it was a great fit. He has excelled with Donnie over the last 3 years and has been asked to join the HNM staff to teach.


Krista Johnson

Krista is a native of Pennsylvania, where she obtained a B.A. from Bloomsburg University in Anthropology and a Doctorate degree from New York Chiropractic College, later becoming a chiropractor in Seneca, NY. Krista moved to NC in 2007 with her husband and together birthed four beautiful children. All of her life, Krista has nurtured a passion for music and a desire to learn an instrument one day. Krista’s children started lessons at HNM in 2019, where they fell in love with music, the staff, and HNM’s atmosphere and educational philosophy.

Krista started lessons on guitar in 2020 and then bass in 2023, where she quickly developed the required skills to perform and teach. In 2023, Krista was offered a position in the Highland North Orchestra and a teaching position, starting January 2024.