Dr. Michelle Folta, Artistic Director
Dr. Michelle Folta is an associate professor of choral/general music education at Columbus State University and the artistic director for the Voices of the Valley Children’s Chorus. Dr. Folta earned her Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Previous degrees include a bachelor’s degree in Music Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in Music Education from the University of North Texas.
Prior to graduate work, Dr. Folta taught middle school choir for eight years in Austin, Texas, where she was recognized as “Teacher of the Year.” While teaching in the public schools, Dr. Folta was instrumental in transforming her campus into a Fine Arts Academy, preventing the school from possible closure. Her choirs received consistent superior ratings in festivals and contests during her tenure as well as many opportunities to perform with community choruses and religious organizations.
The Voices of the Valley Children’s Chorus at Columbus State University has achieved excellence under Dr. Folta's direction. Voices of the Valley has been selected to perform for the West Georgia Choral Society’ Choral Festival in LaGrange, Georgia as well as the Columbus Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker. In addition to local performances, Voices of the Valley collaborated with the Columbus State University Wind Ensemble in the spring of 2017. In the summer of 2018, Voices of the Valley performed their first international tour in Norwich and Cambridge, England and performed a the Georgia Music Educators Association conference in 2019. Sola Voce, Voices of the Valley’s advanced ensemble, will perform at GMEA and the ACDA Southern Conference in 2022.
Dr. Folta has served as the guest clinician for the GMEA Muscogee County Middle School Chorus as well as local middle schools and high schools in the Chattahoochee Valley. In 2017, she was the guest clinician for the GMEA Statewide Sixth Grade Honor Chorus in Athens, Georgia. In addition, she has served as an adjudicator for state-wide festivals and contests and as a guest lecturer at Iowa State University, the University of North Texas, and Georgia State University. Dr. Folta served as the guest clinician for the Georgia Music Educators Association Sixth-Grade Honor Chorus, and was the guest clinician for the West Georgia Choral Society's Choral Festival in the spring of 2018. In February of 2019, Dr. Folta was the guest clinician for the Region XIII Tenor Bass All Region Choir in Austin, Texas.
Dr. Folta has presented research in a variety of state, national, and international venues, including Texas Music Educators Association conference, the Florida Music Educators Association conference, the Georgia Music Educators Association conference, the National Association for Music Education conference, the Society for Music Teacher Education conference, the Race, Ethnicity, and Place conference, and the Narrative Inquiry in Music Education conference. Additionally, she has published research articles in state, national, and international music journals.
Dr. Folta was recently named a finalist for the 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year Award and Columbus and the Valley’s “Rising Star” award. She was also the recipient of Columbus State University's Faculty Service Award in 2021 and named Columbus and the Valley's 5 Under 40. Dr. Folta and her husband, Zach, reside in Columbus, Georgia with their daughter, Lena.
Rachel Massey, assistant Director
Rachel Massey is a recent graduate of the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University where she received a degree in music education. Rachel was a student at the School of Music for five years during which she performed in multiple vocal ensembles, recitals, and vocal competitions. Rachel is new to the Voices of the Valley family, but is excited to be taking on the role of Assistant Director. As such, she will be directing Prima Voce beginning in August. Rachel has been teaching art and music since 2013 both in her home town of Dothan, Alabama, and here in Columbus. In addition to working with Voices of the Valley, she is a voice instructor with the Schwob School of Music Preparatory Division where she teaches private lessons for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. Rachel is also a choir member with St. Thomas Episcopal Church, soprano section leader for the Schwob Singers and Choral Union, and a freelance artist focusing on portraiture. Rachel currently resides in Columbus, Georgia with her dog, Gershwin.
James Camp, Accompanist
James Camp is a LaGrange native and a 2013 graduate of LaGrange College with a degree in vocal performance. James currently serves as a staff pianist and singer at the First United Methodist Church of LaGrange. He has also served as music director and pianist at FUMC Pine Mountain, as worship pianist at Loyd Presbyterian, LaGrange, and as a cantor in the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. At Rider University, James worked as a staff accompanist and sang in Kantorei, the early music ensemble of Westminster Choir College. Growing up, he sang for seven years in what is today the Young Singers of West Georgia. As he now pursues a degree from Columbus Technical College, James is glad to be representing the community alongside these Voices of the Valley.
NATALIE CROSBY, UNDERGRADUATE ASSISTANT
Natalie Crosby is a freshman music education major at Columbus State University. She recently graduated from Howard High School where she was a student of theater, chorus, and guitar. She formerly attended the Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts in Columbus, GA, where she was a classical guitar major and earned the school’s top award for high schoolers, the Rainey Award, as a freshman. Natalie was a member of the Voices of the Valley Children’s Chorus in Columbus where she participated in both the Bella Voce and Sola Voce ensembles and earned the director’s choice award, giving her an opportunity to conduct the choir during a performance. She performed as a soloist with the choir and toured England with the ensemble where they sang in some of the world’s finest cathedrals. She has been active in both traditional choirs and contemporary worship music throughout her high school career. Natalie is looking forward to a career in music education.