Vocalist/guitarist Steph Johnson is an award-winning, multi-dimensional songwriter and recording artist whose music deftly blends jazz, soul, funk and blues. Her most recently released album, Music is Art, was produced and arranged by Grammy Award-winner Kamau Kenyatta. Her soon-to-be-released So in Love is a jazz album featuring pianist Josh Nelson (Natalie Cole), guitarist Anthony Wilson (Diana Krall), and husband/bassist Rob Thorsen.
In 2016, Johnson started a choir for people experiencing homelessness with Nina Deering. Today, the Voices of Our City Choir has swelled to 225 members and helped over 60 of its members get off the street and into housing. Johnson became a spokesperson and the choir became a symbol of what a grassroots effort can accomplish. Johnson and members of her staff sit on local homeless committees and boards, and advise the city council and the mayor’s office on issues.
In addition to advocacy, Voices of Our City is an inspirational musical ensemble that has garnered plenty of headlines. The choir has been the focus of a documentary that aired nationally on PBS stations. The group has performed with the San Diego Symphony and opened a benefit concert at the historic Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles on a bill that featured Jason Mraz and founding members of the Doors. Most recently the choir auditioned for Season 15 of America’s Got Talent.
Steph Johnson turned the choir into a nonprofit and serves as both Executive Director and Creative Director. She was named the 2020 Woman of the Year by San
Diego Assemblymember Todd Gloria:
“I am honored to name Steph Johnson the Woman of the Year for the 78th Assembly District. Voices of Our City, the innovative program Steph co-created to harness the power of music to change lives, gives homeless men and women hope and a chance to connect with others. The choir not only provides an outlet for unsheltered San Diegans to participate in the uplifting benefits of music and creativity, but also serves as an access point to services. Voices of Our City has provided the perfect vehicle for dozens of choir members to get off the street and into permanent housing.”
Bringing homelessness, an MBA in marketing and operations and an entertainment background, John offers a unique set of skills, passion and perspective to the Voices of Our City Choir and the community. From the very beginning of the choir, John has been an active advocate for the unsheltered in the San Diego area. In this role, he has become educated in many of the issues that are relevant to the homelessness crisis on a local and national level.
Brady’s work led to him become a media voice cited in The San Diego Union Tribune, The Huffington Post, NBC 7 and The Voice of San Diego, among many other media outlets. John is also a regular speaker at conferences, community groups and governmental organizations.
Brady is also a member of several leadership teams addressing homelessness including serving on the Board of The Regional Task Force on homelessness. He is a member of the City of San Diego Leadership Team overseeing implementation of the City of San Diego Homelessness Plan with Mayor Faulconer and Supervisor Fletcher among others. He also serves on the YIGBY (Yes in God’s Back Yard) advisory committee which is leading a countywide effort to streamline construction and build ROI positive low income housing on faith-based properties. Additionally, he also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Homeless Court Program, is a member of the HEAL network and leads the Voices of Dignity Advocacy program where he trains “lived experienced individuals” to become advocates for the unsheltered suffering on the street.
Two years ago I watched a film and heard a choir sing at our local library and was moved to tears and overwhelming compassion. A few days later I attended the Voices of Our City Choir open rehearsal and never left. I have an extensive background in healthcare security and behavior health, I cofounded Dignity Delivery, a San Diego based nonprofit assisting our unsheltered and have been a musician since I was a teenager. Perfect fit! I’m now the Programs Director, and oversee our choir care program focusing on shelter/ housing, treatment, psych support, specialized programs and veteran services for members. I coordinate workshops for life skills and goals for our members and manage our food distribution program that provides hundreds of meals and groceries weekly for our choir and community. Time with the choir fills voids in my life that I wasn’t aware I had. This is the place for me.
Mother of 5, and 12 grandchildren. On August 1, I will have 4 yrs. Sober and Clean. After being unsheltered, for 7 long and tough years, I was finally moved into an SRO, (Single Room Occupancy).
I graduated from San Diego City College in 1999, with an AA degree in Alcohol and other Drug Studies with Highest Honors. While sleeping outside, I attended San Diego City College to work on a Degree in Social and Behavioral Science. I obtained that degree in 2014.
Afterwards, I completed 210 hrs. of outreach with Alpha Project, and earned a certificate as a Peer Support Specialist. I was offered employment with Voices of Our City Choir on May 31, 2018. I'm extremely grateful to be an employee here. I've always loved to sing, as well as give back to those who remain unsheltered. This is the perfect job for me
Beth is so excited to be the new Administrative Assistant for Voices of Our City! Newly based in San Diego, Beth has a background in Office Management/Administration, Event Planning, and Theatrical Management. After graduating from Fresno State with a B.A. in Theatre Arts, Beth moved to San Francisco. where she worked as a professional Stage Manager for five years. She worked with such theatres as the San Francisco Playhouse, the Curran, A.C.T., StageWrite, and many others. She also worked as the Production Manager for both FoolsFURY and Custom Made Theatre. In her time in SF, Beth worked on over 60 theatrical productions, most recently including The Jungle, Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man, An Entomologist's Love Story, and Born Yesterday. She also helped produce the first-ever virtual gala for San Francisco's Theatre Bay Area, helping raise funds for Bay Area artists impacted by the Covid pandemic. Since moving to San Diego, she has worked with the La Jolla Playhouse and Diversionary Theatre on the productions of Fly, Santaland, and the W.o.W Festival.
Beth has also participated in choir since she was about six years old. She was a member of the master chamber chorales in both her high school and college music programs, and also joined the award-winning International Orange Chorale of San Francisco. Most recently, she participated in the Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir, performing the world-premiere of "Sing Gently."
Beth's unique background and interests feel like a perfect match with Voices of Our City Choir. She is so honored to be a part of the team!