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Our Artistic Director

Vanessa Bruce

Vanessa Wells Bruce, a native of Philadelphia, is a long-time performer, accompanist, choir director, musician, playwright, drama director, composer and arranger.  She has been involved in music since she was four years old, when she started taking piano lessons. As a teen, she studied viola and pipe organ. Since the age of twelve, she has been a church musician and choir director. She received her undergraduate music degree from Oberlin College and Conservatory, majoring in organ and music education, and pursued her master’s degree at West Chester State College as a Conducting major. While at Oberlin, she directed the Oberlin Black Ensemble, a group that performed African songs, Spirituals, and contemporary music by Black Americans.


Ms. Bruce worked for many years as a music educator in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa. In 1998, she moved to the Pacific Northwest, to become a creative Ministry Coordinator at a large church. She later became director of music at a church in North Seattle. She has directed choirs that have backed up artists such as Twila Paris, Ron Kenoly, Rebecca St. James, and Carman.


In 2022, Ms. Bruce became the Artistic Director of the Sound of the Northwest, a choir in the Puget Sound area whose purpose is to perform and preserve spirituals and other music of African Americans. As a longtime member and accompanist of the group, Ms. Bruce has sung and played at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and Benaroya Hall, the Triple Door and many other  venues in the Greater Puget Sound area. She also wrote and directed a play entitled, “Can’t No One Know” for Cultural Pursuits, the former umbrella organization for the Sound of the Northwest.


Ms. Bruce looks forward to carrying forward the legacy of Juan and Doris Huey-Ray, building an even bigger choir program that will include many cultures and many generations, sharing the music of The Sound of the Northwest with audiences of all ages in the Pacific Northwest and around the globe.

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