Over the course of his career, singer/songwriter and Americana artist Tom Freund has released more than a dozen records, collaborated with legends such as Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne, pulled a half-decade stint on bass for alt-country pioneers The Silos. Freund’s intimate, heartfelt new solo album, East of Lincoln, chronicles a personal journey along the path from self doubt to enlightenment. Longtime friend and collaborator Ben Harper and an all-star cast of session players—plays on it as well. According to All Music Guide: “Tom Freund is indeed one of the great singer-songwriters. He constructs a unique world, defines it, and then burns it to the ground. Truly unique and absolutely brilliant.”
Jessica thanks Kathy Katims for inspiring her to write a story! Jessica started her writing career as a playwright . She made the transition to television and was lucky to work on Jason Katim’s show, PARENTHOOD. She went on to create THE PATH that ran for three seasons on Hulu. She is currently running another show exec produced by Katims and created by Andrew Hinderacker for Netflix called AWAY (look out for it sometime in 2020). Jessica also adapted the novel CHERRY by Nico Walker for the Russo Brothers who will direct the film in July.
Ben Decter is an Emmy Award-winning composer and songwriter who, in recent TV seasons has created music for an oversexed devil, (LUCIFER), misplaced New Yorkers (BLESS THIS MESS) and aliens (EXTANT). His music has been heard in Sundance-winning films and the NFL. Ben’s proud of “Another Big Day,” a children’s CD he co-created, and a musical in progress based on his experience as a father. Born in Manhattan, and raised in New Jersey, Ben lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jackie Sloan. Together, they are navigating the new realm of life with grown kids.
Natasha Rothwell is a series regular and co-producer on the HBO series Insecure for which she was nominated for a 2019 NAACP Image Award. Natasha wrote and stars in Netflix Presents: The Characters, and before that she wrote for SNL. Additional credits include Love, Simon, Brooklyn 99, DuckTales, Bojack Horseman, Bob’s Burgers and the upcoming films Sonic the Hedgehog and Wonder Woman 1984.
Ben is an Emmy Award-winning composer and songwriter who, in recent years has created a diverse body of music for the devil (LUCIFER), aliens (EXTANT), federal agents (CSI CYBER, HOSTAGES), doctors (OFF THE MAP), glamorous supernatural beings (SHADOWHUNTERS) and criminally inclined psychics (SHUT EYE). His music has been heard in Sundance-winning films and the NFL. Other works include “Another Big Day,” a children’s CD Ben co-created, and a musical in progress based on his experience as a father.
Born in Manhattan, and raised in New Jersey, Ben lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jackie Sloan. His two children are now adults. He is still adjusting.
Parson James describes his own music as "conflicted pop gospel," and those three words only scratch the surface of his style. While his vocals are clearly informed by gospel, soul, and classic R&B, his lyrics and outlook often hark back to the conflict and judgment he faced growing up in a conservative Christian community in the Deep South.
James was born in 1994 in Cheraw, South Carolina, a small town with a population of roughly 5,000. His mother was only 16 when James was born, and she was white while James' father was black, which didn't escape the notice of local gossips. James' mother was fond of classic country and early rock & roll, including Elvis Presley, Wanda Jackson, and Johnny Cash, while his father, who came from a family of gospel singers, favored artists such as Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin. James' father had severe drug dependency issues, and was an infrequent presence in James' life. As James tried to find his own way, he turned to music, and performed regularly at talent competitions in Cheraw and the surrounding area.
By the time he was 17, James had also accepted that he was gay, but was afraid to come out in an unaccepting community, so he graduated early from high school, worked odd jobs for a few months, and moved to New York City. In the Big Apple, James worked by day in restaurants and by night he appeared at open nights and appeared as part of a burlesque troupe's "Soul Night." He was spotted by a vocal coach who helped him refine his vocal style, and a producer looking for demo vocalists heard James and urged him to begin writing his own songs and forge his own musical persona rather than follow the styles of others. James landed his big break when Norwegian DJ and producer Kygo tapped James to sing the lead vocal on his track "Stole the Show." James' soulful, emotive performance helped make the song into a major international hit, and in the wake of its success, James was signed to a record deal with RCA Records. With his first RCA release, "Sinner Like You," released in July 2015, James confronted the obstacles he faced as a young gay man of mixed heritage. His own version of "Stole the Show" followed in August 2015, and a new song, "Temple," appeared two months later.
David Renaud is a TV writer and medical doctor. He's currently a writer/co-producer on the Humanitas Award-winning and Golden Globe nominated ABC series The Good Doctor. He has also written on the CBS medical drama Pure Genius (created by Jason Katims) and the ABC primetime soap Blood & Oil. Dr. Renaud was raised in Canada and holds both an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA and an MD from the University of British Columbia. At the age of 19, David was in a near fatal car accident that left him paralyzed. He is committed to challenging preconceptions about people with disabilities. He is a proud father of two, an aspiring musician, and a passable cook.
Ishmael Beah & PriscillIa Kounkou-Hoveyda
Ishmael Beah, born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, is the New York Times & international bestselling author of A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier & Radiance of Tomorrow, A Novel. His books have been published in over 40 languages and won numerous awards. The New York Times finds in his writing an "allegorical richness" and a "remarkable humanity to his characters". He is currently completing his third book, a novel that will be published later this year by Riverhead Books. He lives in Santa Monica, CA with his wife and three children.
Priscillia Kounkou-Hoveyda has worked for the UN for the past 10 years negotiating with warlords for the release of child soldiers from terrorist groups across Africa.
She has been deployed to Nigeria, Congo, Central African Republic and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania at the height of their ravaging conflicts. During those deployments, Priscillia led negotiations with a dozen terrorist groups to secure the release of over 1,000 child soldiers, sexual slaves and girl-suicide bombers. In addition, her work included the subsequent rehabilitation and reintegration of children into their communities - with a particular focus on girls used as weapons of war.
A storyteller at heart, Priscillia has been writing scripts since she was 17 years old. Shaped by her personal and unique upbringing, she is fascinated by the lives and stories she has encountered, and driven to tell the larger human truths through drama and comedy to shift the understanding from a place of fear to that of compassion - to change the way we see each other.
Priscillia secured scholarships to study at USC School of Cinematic Arts, the Sorbonne and NYU law school. Born in France from an Iranian mother and a Congolese father, she was raised in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and lived through the first decade of the Islamic Republic. As a result of war in Iran, she moved to the projects outside of Paris. She speaks English, French and Farsi.
She is based in Los Angeles and is represented by UTA and Anonymous Content.
Mimi Schmir is a writer and television producer whose credits include the television movie “Junk” aka “Trapped In a Purple Haze” about teen heroin addiction in the suburbs as well as the series Sweet Justice, HBO’s Strangers, Promised Land, Felicity, Party of Five, Shark and Grey’s Anatomy for which she won a Writer’s Guild Award and was nominated for both Golden Globe and Emmy Awards. Her “Hot Flashes” blog about women starting over has been performed in both Los Angeles and New York and the novel rights were sold to Penguin/Putnam. Her memoir about grief, currently titled “Diving In,” is a work in progress.
Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, Mimi was married to writer/producer Gary Glasberg and is the mother of two teenage boys.
When Rozzi was 19 years old, Adam Levine heard a song she wrote and signed her as the first artist to his record label. Soon after, she was sharing the stage with Maroon 5 at famed arenas across the country and touring with artists like Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw. In 2018, Rozzi released her debut album, Bad Together, to critical acclaim with the single, ‘Never Over You’ hitting the top 20 at Hot AC radio. She has been featured in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and Teen Vogue among others and performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Today Show, and The Talk. Rozzi’s collaboration with American Ballet Theatre prima ballerina Isabella Boylston will hit select cities in 2019.