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Singer, songwriter, and Celtic harpist Karen Ballew founded The Deer’s Cry collective in 2019. Karen grew up in Abilene, Texas singing in choirs, church, and musical theatre productions, and at Furman University, she focused her studies on choral, medieval, and Renaissance music. Upon returning to Texas, Karen soon found a home in the Dallas Irish music scene where she founded and directed a youth chorus at the North Texas School of Irish Music (2013 - 2017) and studied harp and singing at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat. Karen also enjoyed singing with a global Christian worship group and recorded an EP with the Irish vocal ensemble Anúna. She loves sharing songs in the Irish language and now teaches singing through the Nashville Irish Music School.

Karen formed The Deer’s Cry after moving to Nashville. The Deer’s Cry was a finalist in the International Acoustic Music Awards for 2023 and 2024 and an honorable mention winner in the 28th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. The ensemble’s name, The Deer’s Cry, comes from a translation of the Old Irish prayer, St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Together, the ensemble explores the beauty and symbolism of the spiritual, consistently reminding listeners of both the vastness of our universe and the importance of their role in it. Karen explains, “Music itself cannot cure all the wrongs in the world, but there is much we can do through art to remind one another of the beauty in our universe, the intrinsic worth of every living creature, the interconnected nature of all things, and the invitation to be a part of a story bigger than ourselves.” She is grateful to collaborate with Amberly Rosen Hoins, Cherish Hamby, Caleb Yang, and Kyle Jones as they share folk music and original songs from the heart! 

Karen met Amberly through the Nashville International Folk Dancers. Amberly is known for her eclectic musical repertoire, contagious smile, and never-ending enthusiasm. She started playing violin when she was three and picked up fiddling soon after. She grew up in beautiful Eugene, Oregon and started performing when she was six. A graduate from Berklee College of Music, Amberly has performed with diverse musical acts including Terri Clark, Orla Fallon, Maddie & Tae, Paul Simon, Christopher Guest, Gloria Estefan, and The Rosen Sisters. Amberly has toured the U.S. and abroad including such venues as The Grand Ole' Opry, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Medora Musical. Amberly enjoys bridging the gaps between classical, free improv, country, folk, and traditional international folk music from around the world. She is currently teaching violin/fiddle and gigging in Nashville!

Karen met Cherish Hamby through a music video shoot several years ago, and they have been heart friends ever since! They love harmonizing together, listening to music, and brainstorming ideas. Cherish’s voice is stirring, beautiful, and unique. She and her husband Adam are the founding members of Dark Waters Project, and their songs have won multiple awards for songwriting and performance including The Smoky Mountain Songwriting Festival where they finished 1st in the Pop (“Dream Again”), Blues (“Deep Red”) and Rock (“Sober”) genres, and 2nd in Bluegrass (“Bridges”). They were a finalist in The Old Gray Idol and performed live on the Blue Plate Special on WDVX and Mars Music Hall in Huntsville, Alabama at the Von Braun Center.
Cellist Caleb Yang is a performer, recording artist, and commercial musician based in Nashville. As a classical soloist he has performed Bloch’s “Schelomo” for cello and orchestra under the baton of Neal Stulberg. As an improvising musician, Caleb’s musical voice blends elements from a diverse scope of genres. Combining the cello with electronics and live looping has garnered him unique solo performances at venues including the Moscone Center in San Francisco and the Arts District Mansion in Dallas. Collaborations are central to Caleb’s development as a multi-style cellist, including working with the ARC Ensemble (Artists of The Royal Conservatory) and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance. He has performed in concert alongside Lebanese singer Abeer Nehme, Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath, and Klezmer multi-instrumentalist Hankus Netsky for Silkroad’s Global Musician Workshop at New England Conservatory. As a commercial musician, Caleb has toured with country music singer Martina McBride, performed live with artists including David Cook and Emily Weisband, and has recorded as a session musician for Postmodern Jukebox, Benjamin William Hastings, Anna Golden and many others. Caleb has taught on faculties including Belmont University’s String Crossing Camp, O’Connor Method String Camp, and C’est Bon Chamber Music Academy. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Cello Performance at UCLA and a Master of Music in Commercial Music at Belmont University. His master’s thesis focused on the implementation of live looping as a practice tool for string players. 

Kyle Jones is a seasoned percussionist and drummer with a rich history in the music industry. His journey began at the age of three, when he first started playing drums, leading to his first drum lesson at four years old. By the age of eight, Kyle had already performed on the local CBS station in Memphis and played drums for local churches. His talent and passion for music continued to blossom as he moved to Nashville at ten and played at the Montreux Festival with BB and CC Wynan's "Super-Choir” “BC&M” at sixteen. This performance caught the attention of Quincy Jones, leading to a collaboration in the summer of 1983.

Kyle's musical education and experiences are diverse, including service in the Marines with high honors and a four-year college education focusing on Hebrew and Greek. He has also played percussion for Janet Jackson and worked as an in-house session drummer at Woodland Studios for over eight years. His musical journey has taken him around the world, playing with notable artists and groups like Nigeria's O.J. Eckemode, Muriel Anderson, and the Fleetwood Mac Blues Band.

His achievements include three EMMY nominations in 2010 for NPR/PBS's musical score/documentary on Kurdistan culture and an EMMY win in 2011 for his work on the Bhutanese culture documentary. Kyle has also been inducted into the EMMY board of Electorates and served as a judge for the 2012 EMMY nominations and awards. His collaborations extend to projects with Phil Keaggy, Ricky Skaggs, and Robert Plant's bassist Byron House, among others.

Kyle's dedication to education is evident through his teachings on East Indian Percussion master classes and Ethnomusicology at renowned institutions like Vanderbilt University, Trevecca, and Belmont. He also shares his knowledge and passion through his podcast "WYRD HOARD," discussing a range of topics from linguistics to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Currently, Kyle is working with the head of faculty at Cambridge University to reconstruct Sumerian and Akaddian instruments, perform on them, and teach master classes there online. These performances will be logged into the database for Oxford and Cambridge University for educational purposes. His work continues to bridge cultures and generations, contributing significantly to the fields of music and education.

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