Urban Strings Columbus has a dedicated team of individuals who assist our musicians in develop and showcase their talents.
Catherine Willis, Founder
A dedicated community activist for many years. Catherine has supported education, the arts and family advocacy. She has been involved in the United Negro College Fund, and a founding member of Friends of Art for Community Enrichment Inc., The Ohio Wesleyan University Upward Bound program. She was a member of the SOUL committee, which helped promote art from the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center and is an alumna of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Twin Rivers Chapter of Links.
A former Columbus City Schools teacher, her focus on education led her to become an active volunteer, supporter and Board member of I Know I Can, a program that guarantees every Columbus City School student an opportunity to attend college. She initiated the Chess in the (Neighbor) Hood program at the Martin Luther King Library and was asked to extend the program to other sites.
In 2007 Mrs. Willis founded Urban Strings Columbus at Champion Middle School with 2 students. The organization has grown to over 20 youth string musicians ages 11 to 18. Most recently she was given the 2019 Music Educator Award for Community Education for inspiring a love of music in the children and adults of central Ohio.
Urban Strings Columbus
Chelsea Daniel Eades, Lead Conductor
Chelsea Daniel Eades is the lead conductor for Urban Strings Columbus. She attended Capital University and graduated in 2014 with degrees in Biology and Music. While at Capital University, she studied piano with Narmina Aliyeva, violin with Erin Gilliand, and viola with Ken Matsuda. Chelsea is now teaching Middle School Science, Middle School Choir, and Orchestra at Grace Christian School in Blacklick, OH
Mitchell Franklin, Assistant Conductor
Mitchell Franklin is an Assistant director with Urban Strings for over 8 years. He has played the cello for over 30 years. Mr. Franklin is a graduate of Hilliard High school and attended Miami (Ohio) University. In his free time he writes poetry and music. He is also a valued member of Bethany Presbyterian church choir, where he also serves as a Deacon.
J'aira Culberson-Henry, Quarter Note Conductor
J'aira Culberson Henry began her music career as a violin student of Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra in 2010 at the age of 12. Developing as a musician, Culberson-Henry has studied under the supervision of Stephen Spottswood and Chelsea Daniel-Eades. She used Urban Strings as a stepping ground to learn the instrumental mastery. While attending Ohio Dominican University, Ms. Culberson-Henry is now the conductor of our youngest musicians. She also provides private instruction and performs as a member of the Urban Strings Columbus Alumni group.