Cassandra Lee & the Acoustic Project is comprised of musicians with decades of combined performance experience. Their five-piece design makes for a gorgeous sound, saturated with rich vocal harmonies over warm acoustic guitar, violin, and piano. The addition of light percussion creates the perfect blend of softness and strength. With a large range of influences, including Amos Lee, Susan Tedeschi, Lake Street Dive, and Bill Withers, their performances span multiple genres. When it comes to blues-centric folk, soul, and jazz music, Cassandra Lee fits the bill in the most incredible way.
Cassandra Stern, better known as Casey, has been singing since she she was in grade school. After learning to read music and play the flute in 5th grade, it was her elementary school band teacher who first realized her musical talent. He then pushed her to pursue it by suggesting she sing at an assembly in front of her entire school. At 11 years old, this was a thrill and a rush for Casey, who's been singing ever since. In high school, she focused on developing her vocal technique by participating in women's and select choirs, musical theater, and singing competitively at state and regional levels.
Since then, Casey has led the way for many different bands as front woman and lead vocalist. In 2012, she toured New England's coast with the funk, soul and blues band, Funkasaurus. And in 2013, she created Cassandra Lee & the Acoustic Project, which keeps her pretty busy. Most recently, she started her own booking agency, Bright Set Entertainment, and continues to book for her own project, as well as a growing list of clientele. If you're looking to see what all the buzz is about, check out the next show and don't forget to say hi!
Katherine Shao is a keyboard player, specializing in jazz, funk and blues - informed by a background in classical and baroque music. Katherine’s endeavors as a performer of specialized musical styles have equipped her with a seasoned foundation of knowledge about the sound, affect and style of different genres. Currently, she's part of several different groups: Cosmic Gothic, Cassandra Lee & the Acoustic Project and more. She has played many different roles in production - from concerts and theatrical staging, to recordings, video and digital media.
An accomplished baroque keyboard player through her post graduate years, with a Masters of Music from Indiana University Bloomington, she has performed and recorded with many of the nation's finest classical ensembles, including the New Century Chamber Orchestra, The Orchestra of St. Luke's, the San Francisco Symphony, and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Venues have included Carnegie Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, and a variety of prestigious music series around the US and Europe.
After graduate school she founded two groups that pushed the envelope in the classical genre: Bimbetta, a quintet of singers and instruments that intertwined humor, popular culture and feminism into the rich vocal genres of 17th- and 18th- century Italy, England and Spain; and American Baroque, an award-winning ensemble specializing in commissioning new music written for period instruments.
She has worn multiple hats throughout her artistic life, all of which have been well informed by her ongoing experience in the business world. In recent times, Katherine has started developing ideas that merge creative thinking and business.
Matthew Kloosterman dedicated his life to music over twenty years ago. Since playing with his very first garage band at age twelve, he decided he would always pursue the thrill that came from playing the guitar. A passion for learning and a love for genres such as blues, jazz, funk, soul and even classical, has molded Matt into an extremely versatile component of every project with which he gets involved. Matthew intentionally plays from his heart, something that is very evident while listening to him. Perhaps this is why he's become a great teacher, as well.
But Matt has done much more than just teach. He is also credited with putting together the critically acclaimed band, Funkasaurus, a group that toured up and down the east coast of New England for years. He has now found a home with Cassandra Lee & the Acoustic Project, pouring his soul into his instrument, in complete service of the music.
After finishing his music degree, he has continued taking on guitar students of all ages and levels of experience.
Morgan Beckford, originally hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, has been singing as long as she can remember. Beginning with the children’s choir at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church at age 6, her passion for singing has taken her through a variety of genres, including A Capella, musical theater, jazz and the American songbook repertoire. While she ended up discovering a passion for classical voice and opera, she is thrilled to have added soul and folk to the mix as the second vocalist for Cassandra Lee & the Acoustic Project.
Morgan earned her BA in Voice and Plan II Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. As part of her undergraduate studies, she performed a number of roles with the University of Texas Butler Opera Center, including, but not limited to Mrs. McLean in Susannah by Carlisle Floyd, Café Olay in Queenie Pie by Duke Ellington, and Second Lady/Second Spirit in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. After earning her MM Voice degree at the University of Maryland-College Park in 2013, she performed on stage with opera and theater companies alike. Her favorite role to date was Daniela in In the Heights with Hattiloo Theater. Now that she has relocated to the New England area, she’s been thrilled to perform with both the Theater Offensive and Petrichor in cabaret performances, and looks forward to more to come!
When not onstage, Morgan has worked in arts administration as an Education and Outreach Coordinator and Summer Conservatory Director for Opera Memphis, a Fellowship Coach and Partnerships Coordinator for the Memphis Music Initiative, and a freelance teaching artist. Currently, she serves as the Chief Programming Officer for the Community Music Center of Boston, where she loves spending her days creating programming “for the babies.”
From a young age, Valerie Kramlinger felt connected to the world through music. As a child, she delighted in weekly piano lessons and the opportunity to play with the church ensemble or sing in the choir.
On her twelfth birthday, Valerie’s grandfather gifted her the family violin, which propelled her to focus primarily on the study of classical music. As she grew up, Valerie played violin with various orchestras and chamber groups under the instruction of supportive music educators Mary Bahr, John Madura, and Manny Laureano. While attending the University of Minnesota to complete a B.S. in Chemistry and a PhD in Biochemistry, she continued to play with the U of M Campus Orchestra and the Health Sciences Orchestra.
To further pursue her career in research science, Valerie moved to Nashville to take a research position at Vanderbilt University. In Music City, she found herself surrounded by talented singers, songwriters, fiddle players, and aspiring bands. This Music City immersion taught Valerie how to incorporate violin into more contemporary musical styles. Presently, you can find Valerie in the Boston area, working in the Biotech field, and playing her grandfather's violin with Cassandra Lee & the Acoustic Project.