Iyana “YaNi” Davis, is a graduate of Claremont School of Theology with her Masters of Divinity. Rev. YaNi received her B.A. from Spelman College, with an English degree. YaNi has always been passionate about the impact of words, storytelling, truth-telling and the therapeutic nature of writing one’s words and sharing one’s story. YaNi believes firmly in our power as storytellers and sets this example everyday of her life.
Rev. YaNi, is an ordained minister with The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has been a featured speaker, poet and teaching-artist around the United States, throughout Europe and across Asia. YaNi uses her words wisely as a Hip Hop artist, an inspiring speaker, an effective educator, a profound poet and a modern day prophet and griot. She has shared the stage with top performers, theologians, creatives, and healers around the world, an honor that she does not take lightly. YaNi has spoken and performed in venues from University settings, to churches, coffee shops and clubs as her message is one for everyone invested in growing in the peaceful expressions of communalism, wholeness and love.
YaNi is the founder of The Peace People’s Movement and is lovingly referred to as, The Peace President. Rev. YaNi launched their non-profit, My SupaNatural Life to provide wholistic communal care for those living with disabilities and the people who love us! As a kidney transplant survivor YaNi has committed her life to peace and wholeness via the power of Nommo (The Spoken Word). Keep in touch with YaNi & The PeacePeople at www.whoisyani.com or with My SupaNatural Life via www.MySupaNaturalLife.com.
Spanish saxophonist Ana García Caraballos is known for her fiery, expressive and
agile performances. A sought-after solo artist and chamber musician, she seeks out
unusual ensemble combinations that integrate the different sound possibilities of the
saxophone. Ana is a self-motivated driven musician committed to share with others
her passion for music through both performing and teaching.
Recent career highlights include performances at different international venues such
as: Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Spectrum, Le Poisson Rouge, Miller Theatre,
Instituto Cervantes, Auditorio Baluarte or Palacio de Congresos Granada. Ana has also
been a featured artist in prestigious music festivals such as the Imani Winds Chamber
Music Festival, Connecticut Summerfest, Tribeca New Music Festival, Make Music
New York, New York Composers Circle, NYC’s Rising Stars Gala, PAM’15 Pamplona,
IDRS’18 Granada, UNLEASH’18 Madrid and LEAD Creative’21. Ana's artistry can also
be heard in several recordings of new works by eminent composers.
Ana holds a Master of Music degree and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in classical
saxophone from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.
Lydia Smith, a life-long CT resident, has been drumming all her life. She is a graduate of the Creative Arts Therapy Program from The New School in New York City. Her internship was with the Institute of Music and Neurologic Function at Schnurmacher Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, part of Beth Abraham Health Services in White Plains, New York.
She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Southern Connecticut State University in Liberal Studies with concentrations in Education, Music, and Psychology; and an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Post University.
She has been a head preschool teacher for many years and taught at Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Connecticut for more than ten years. She is a certified Remo HealthRHYTHMS Drum Circle Facilitator, serving all populations and conducts drum circles all over the state, promoting her musical and rhythmical program, Drumming for Health and Wellness!
As a professional drummer, you can catch Lydia playing locally in a variety of music ensembles, including rock, folk, jazz, musical theater and steel pan to performing at church services, trainings and conferences nationally, with the United Methodist Church. She also enjoys accompanying for yoga classes, music/sound therapy sessions and Kirtan.
Jessica Fox is a singer/songwriter and arranger native to Richmond, Virginia. She grew up singing Gospel music in her local church choir and began writing songs in her bedroom as a teenager. Her passion for different styles of music led her to graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s in Classical Voice.
Along with leading worship in many different contexts in Richmond, Jess has performed on major stages across the nation including America’s Got Talent, Good Morning America, the White House, and more.
Currently, she is pursuing dreams of writing and arranging for today’s greatest acts!
Founded in 2005 by Samuel Pott and based in Jersey City, Nimbus has been at the forefront of excellence in the arts, civic engagement, and equitable impact, interweaving Company, School, and Presentations. Nimbus performs on tour nationally and throughout the greater New Jersey/New York region, impacting 16,000 people annually. Community engagement initiatives serve over 7,000 children annually through in-school, movement-based programs. The company tours nationally to notable venues including: New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Iowa Dance Festival and the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater. Artistic collaborations include work with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and esteemed artists including Pedro Giraudo, Latin Grammy winner, Aaron Parks, Blue Note Jazz Artist, Tim Eriksen, Grammy nominee, composer Qasim Naqvi, video artists Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger, among others. Nimbus presents and produces the annual Acadia Dance Festival at the Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor, Maine. On September 12, 2020, Nimbus opened the Nimbus Arts Center, a 15,000 square foot center with theater, gallery, and studio spaces that is one of the largest investments in the arts in Jersey City history. Aligning with Nimbus’ mission to wield the arts as a medium for broad impact to our diverse community, the new Center will serve as a resource for meaningful engagement with arts for people of all ages, backgrounds and financial means.
Makeda McCreary is excited to be a part of Assembly 2022 and join United Methodist Women again. She was part of the worship team for a Leadership Development Days event in 2017 and had a wonderful time.
McCreary studied classical piano at Shenandoah Conservatory before switching to contemporary music studies at Berklee College of Music. In 2016, McCreary joined Arrabon—an organization designed to equip and empower communities for reconciliation—as the creative director for the Urban Doxology songwriting internship. There she taught young people ages 18-25 how to engage in Jesus, justice and reconciliation through songwriting. For the last five years she has had the honor of traveling across the country teaching songwriting, worship-leading skills, bridge building through music and worship, and how to equip worship leaders to write intentionally for their communities.
In addition to songwriting, McCreary has a passion for gospel music and gospel choirs. She is delighted to be the gospel choir director at East End Fellowship in the heart of Richmond, Virginia. She is also the worship and arts director at her home church, Spring Creek Baptist Church in Moseley, Virginia.
In her downtime, you can find her reading fantasy fiction, doing puzzles very slowly and adding to her Netflix watchlist.
Grace Pugh Hubbard has spent the last 40 years teaching, writing, playing and directing church music. She graduated from Lambuth College with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and an emphasis in church music. She also studied at Scarritt College and Vanderbilt University. Hubbard has served as minister of music at several churches in the Memphis Annual Conference, the Tennessee Annual Conference and the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Since 2008, she has been a musician at the Church Center for the United Nations, where she found her passion for Global Music and artist advocacy, using music as a tool for education and awareness surrounding issues of Peace with Justice. She has had the privilege of traveling with United Methodist Women as one of the music leaders for Leadership Development Days and Mission u trainings, teaching Global Music workshops for some of these events.
For several years, Hubbard was part of the music team for the District Superintendents/Directors of Connectional Ministry trainings at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, an event sponsored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. Most recently she was part of the music team for the 2022 Greater Northwest Episcopal Area Conference.
Hubbard also enjoys sewing and crafting, as well as designing and building labyrinths for prayer and meditation. She and her husband, Joel, have recently relocated to Essex Center, Vermont, and have three daughters, one son and two grandsons.