Meet the Mentors

Museum Staff Mentors

Aaron Helvig

Associate Director of Music Programs

Aaron is the Words & Music Program Senior Manager. He helps develop education programs and curriculum, presents workshops to teachers, and serves as a staff songwriter for various songwriting programs. Prior to joining the Museum’s education team in 2019, Aaron taught band, guitar, songwriting, and studio production at Nashville’s Isaiah T. Creswell Middle School of the Arts. As a music educator, he has served as a guest instructor, clinician, and judge for various music festivals, camps, and organizations in Tennessee and his native Arizona, as well as an education curriculum consultant for Quaver Music. Aaron performs regularly in Nashville with his acoustic duo, Emberland. As a trombone player, he has performed with artists including Danny Gokey, the Jacksons, and the Temptations. Aaron earned a bachelor’s in music education and a master’s in music from Northern Arizona University.

Adam Ollendorff

Senior Manager of Music Programs

Adam is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who co-wrote “Moonlight, Mistletoe, and You,” the title cut on Keb’ Mo’s 2019 holiday album, which spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard blues album chart. He has also written songs with Natalie Hemby, Jim Lauderdale, and Maren Morris. Adam has toured and recorded with Will Hoge, Kacey Musgraves, and John Oates—playing pedal steel, Dobro, and guitar—and has appeared on recordings by J.D. McPherson and Carrie Underwood. He has performed on the Country Music Association Awards, the Grammys, the Late Show with David Letterman, and The Tonight Show, and alongside Loretta Lynn, NEEDTOBREATHE, Willie Nelson, Katy Perry, and Lee Ann Womack. Adam holds degrees from Princeton University and Berklee College of Music.

Kayley Nell Walker

Community Outreach Coordinator

Kayley is a museum educator and singer-songwriter who has performed her original music on NBC’s Today show. She has also performed at Tootsie’s Birthday Bash on behalf of the Sing Me a Story Foundation. In 2016, her EP Wanderlust was nominated at the Independent Music Awards, and her latest release, Daydreaming, can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud. Kayley earned a bachelor’s in radio, television, and film from the University of North Texas.

Annie Adams

Words & Music Coordinator

Annie Adams is originally from Woodridge, IL, growing up just west of Chicago. Prior to joining the Museum’s education team, Annie taught voice, piano, guitar, and songwriting to students of all ages. Annie has been an active member of Nashville’s music scene since she arrived in 2009, writing and performing original country/Americana music regularly under the stage name Annie Kennedy.  In 2016, Annie was featured in the “Rockin’ Boots” campaign for RocketBuster Boots and named one of four women “Trailblazers”. She has performed all over the US and internationally, booking a solo tour in Amsterdam in 2017. Annie continues to write and perform today, also working as a professional studio vocalist and ensemble singer. Annie holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Commercial Music from Millikin University.

Katie Bramell

Director of Family and Youth Programs

Katie Bramell serves as the Director of Family and Youth Programs at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She is a museum professional and public historian with 10 years of experience in the field. Bramell previously served as the Director of Museum Experiences at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a Master of Arts in Public History from Northern Kentucky University and a Bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Central Missouri.

Nicole Laws

Youth and Family Programs Manager

Nicole Laws is the Youth and Family Programs Manager at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She develops programs and resources that illuminate the stories, themes and music explored in the Museum’s galleries. She achieved her master’s degree in education and taught multiple grade levels from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. She is also an experienced artist; her main medium is fiber. She has shown at galleries in Chicago and Nashville. She has an illustration and design company that she makes custom clothes and Nashville souvenirs.

Nicki Mortland

Youth and Family Programs Coordinator

Nicki Mortland is the Youth and Family Programs Coordinator. She studied History and Creative writing during her undergrad in Indiana and, before starting at the museum, worked in employment law. She is particularly interested in the ways that modern country music and culture connects with traditional roots. Some of her favorite musicians include The Chicks, The Highwomen, and Joan Shelley. When she is not planning fun programs and hanging out in the Taylor Swift Education Center, she is making rugs and spending time with her sweet cat Appa.

Meet Past Camp Songwriting Mentors

Caitlin Evanson

Songwriting Mentor

Caitlin is a classically trained violinist who has traveled the world playing violin and guitar and singing background vocals behind Taylor Swift. She has shared stages with artists including Def Leppard, Selena Gomez, Faith Hill, Jennifer Lopez, John Mayer, Tim McGraw, Nicki Minaj, Stevie Nicks, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Keith Urban, and Usher. Caitlin writes and records her own music and works as a session string player and singer.

Tim Fagan

Songwriting Mentor

While working as music director and guitarist for Colbie Caillat, Tim co-wrote “Lucky” with Caillat and Jason Mraz, which won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Tim signed with music publisher Sony/ATV and continued writing, producing, and performing in Los Angeles before moving to Nashville in 2017. He hosts a music variety channel on Twitch called Timmy’s Comeback, where he performs, produces improvised beats, and collaborates with other writers, and his songs have appeared in films, TV shows, and national ad campaigns.

Matt Kass

Songwriting Mentor

A native of Philadelphia and resident of East Nashville, Matt is a producer, engineer, and songwriter who studied ethnomusicology at Cornell University. In 2013, he co-composed, recorded, and mixed the score of First Comes Love, a feature-length production for HBO Documentaries. He earned Best Live Album honors at the 2008 Independent Music Awards for producing his band the Brakes’ Tale of Two Cities. Matt’s production and compositions have been used in TV shows and national advertising campaigns.

Matt Kass

Michelle Pereira

Songwriting Mentor

Toronto native Michelle Pereira is a soul-pop singer-songwriter whose voice has been compared to Adele, Sara Bareilles, Sara Evans, and Susan Tedeschi. She recently won the Bluebird Cafe’s Golden Pick contest for best original song for her composition, “Homemade.” Michelle’s most recent EP, Piece of My Mind, includes her single “Worthy 2.0.” A frequent performer on Nashville’s stages, Michelle has sung alongside hit writer Gary Nicholson and renowned vocalist Gwen Sebastian, among countless others.

Amirah Shantel

Songwriting Mentor

Amirah is a classically trained vocalist, composer, songwriter, producer, and session singer. In 2017, the Nashville Industry Music Awards recognized her with a Best R&B/Soul Artist nomination. She released her second EP, Simple as a Kiss, in 2020; her latest single, “Nothing to Say,” has been featured on streaming playlists and UK radio. Amirah has performed her own music at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and she frequently contributes vocal arrangements to other artists’ recordings.

Amirah Shantel

Doug Williams

Songwriting Mentor

Doug performs with his wife, Telisha Williams, as the duo Wild Ponies. The husband-and-wife team grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and met in their high-school marching band. They formed their own band to play at a school assembly and turned to a folk sound while attending college five hours apart. Wild Ponies released their first album in 2003 and released their latest album, Galax, in 2017. Doug and Telisha perform frequently in Nashville and tour throughout the United States and abroad. In addition to making music, Wild Ponies have a podcast featuring interviews with artists including Jim Lauderdale and Allison Russell and host a radio show on WSM 650 AM.

Doug Williams

Alex Wong

Songwriting Mentor

Alex is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer whose music has been placed in film, on television, and in ad campaigns for Google and Aquafina. His major-label producer credits include Delta Rae (Big Machine), Vienna Teng (Universal), and Ari Hest (Columbia). Alex has recorded as part of the duo the Paper Raincoat, and he released a solo album, The Elephant and the Seahorse, on Tone Tree Music in 2020. Equally at home in the recording studio and in the kitchen, Alex founded the Nashville-based pop-up restaurant Angelhouse Family Dinner, where he creates recipes that draw from his family’s Chinese heritage.

Alex Wong

Claire Wyndham

Lead Songwriting Mentor

After achieving success in her native Australia, Claire, a singer-songwriter, moved to Nashville in 2010.  She signed a publishing deal in 2013 and found her niche placing songs in film and on television, including the theme song to the 2014 feature film Fort Bliss. Claire is equally comfortable writing pop, folk, and country songs. In 2022, she released an EP, Waves, with her newly formed duo, the Lonely Fighters.

Claire Wyndham

Meet Past Camp Guest Artists

Tenille Townes

Guest Mentor (June 2022 Camp)

In 2020, Alberta, Canada, native Tenille Townes released her album The Lemonade Stand, featuring twelve original songs, including her #1 Canadian country hits “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)” and “Somebody’s Daughter.” Townes was also named the Academy of Country Music New Female Artist of the Year and Candian Country Music Association (CCMA) Female Artist and Songwriter of the Year in 2020. In 2021, she went on to win CCMA Female Artist of the Year. Her new EP, Masquerades, came out in April 2022 on Columbia Nashville.

Tenille Townes

Ruby Amanfu

Guest Mentor (July 2022 Camp)

Ruby is a Ghana-born, Nashville-based recording artist who has released seven studio albums and multiple singles. She is well known for being one half of the duo Sam & Ruby, whose album was named Album of the Year by the Associated Press in 2009. Ruby is also known for her collaborations with Jack White, in his all-women band, the Peacocks, and on two of his critically acclaimed solo albums, Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. Ruby has earned two Grammy nominations for Song of the Year, one for co-writing “Hard Place,” recorded by H.E.R., and the other for co-writing “A Beautiful Noise,” recorded by Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile.

Ruby Amanfu

Mickey Guyton

Guest Mentor (July 2019 Camp)

Mickey Guyton was a nomad growing up, traveling all over Texas due to her father’s job. Music was the   constant in   her life through all of her travels. She began singing at her church at five years old and says listening to LeAnn Rimes sing the National Anthem at a baseball game is what made her truly decide to become a performer. Mickey chose to become a country artist because “Of all the music out there, Country is the most honest, the most genuine and speaks to my heart.” Her first public performance as a signed artist came in 2011 when she performed on the PBS series “In Performance at the White House.” She released her debut single “Better Than You Left Me” in 2015, and in 2016, she was nominated for New Female Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards. At this year’s ACM Awards, Mickey performed the song “I’m Standing with You” from the Breakthrough movie soundtrack alongside     Chrissy Metz, Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina and Maddie & Tae. Also featured in the Breakthrough movie and soundtrack is her song “Hold On.” Mickey recently released her single “Sister” and signed an exclusive worldwide publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music Nashville.


The Sisterhood Band

Guest Mentor (June 2019 Camp)

The Sisterhood Band is a country duo comprised of Alyssa Bonagura and Ruby Stewart. Working on solo careers, they had no plan to form a duo, but bonded over their mutual love of music, especially folk singer Joni Mitchell. Ruby’s musician father, Rod Stewart, heard them harmonizing and told them, “You two should start a band.” Thus, the Sisterhood Band was born, creating a sound rich in harmony that blends West Coast folk and rock and roll. They released their debut EP, Summer Setlist, in 2018. The Sisterhood Band has performed alongside, toured with, or opened for a wide-range of artists, including Sheryl Crow, Gary Clark Jr., Jesse James Decker, Rod Stewart, and Steven Tyler. After making their Grand Ole Opry debut last year, the Sisterhood Band has been busy recording and producing their debut album in Nashville. In May, they released two new songs for their growing fan base—“Bullet” and “Get Up and Go.”

Meet Past Demo Day Instructors
and Band Members

Ryan Griffin

Ryan Griffin, Music Engineer, Mixer, Producer

Ryan is Director of Education at SAE Institute Nashville, an accredited music recording and production school, and is a professional engineer, mixer, and producer. Ryan operates his own studio near historic Music Row and has worked with a variety of clients, including Shaquille O’Neil and Country Music Hall of Fame members the Oak Ridge Boys. He earned a bachelor’s degree and an MBA with a concentration in Music Business from Middle Tennessee State University. Ryan enjoys working with festivals and artists to create and monetize engaging livestream content and developing independent artists to help them establish sustainable careers in music.

Adam Beard


Adam is a session and touring bassist who has recorded with Curb Records recording artist Ruthie Collins, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Bob DiPierro, and Will Hoge, among many others. Adam currently tours with Columbia Nashville recording artist Tenille Townes and has performed with Brothers Osborne, David Nail, Lee Roy Parnell, Lucie Silvas, and Dan Tyminski. He has appeared on Good Morning America, the Grand Ole Opry, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Late Show with David Letterman, and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Sam Hawksley


Sam is an Australia-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter, producer, and session musician. He has performed and recorded with artists including The BoDeans, Paul Brandt, Adam Brand, Terri Clark, Olivia Newton John, Kim Richey, Sixpence None the Richer, Sunny Sweeny, and Charlie Worsham. Sam has produced albums for Brand, The Harmonators, and The Sunny Cowgirls, and has recorded numerous albums as a solo artist. His latest release, Birds, is available at and features many formidable guest artists, including Alyssa Bonagura (The Sisterhood Band) and Jonatha Brooke (The Story).

Rachel Solomon


Rachel is a studio musician, singer-songwriter, arranger, and international piano bar entertainer, who has lived in Nashville for more than 16 years. As an artist, Rahcel has released multiple albums, with songs recognized by the Great American Song Contest and placed on MTV. Rachel has also played side-woman [Rachel’s words] to, Ruby Amanfu, Laura Bell Bundy, Adam Hood, on the Today show with Lauren Jenkins, Love and Theft, and Heidi Newfield.

Keio Stroud


Keio is a Georgia-born drummer and session musician who toured regularly with Big and Rich and has performed with a host of artists including Jason Aldean, Lee Brice, Emmylou Harris, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Jake Owen, and Keith Urban. As a session player, Keio has been featured in recordings including Let Us in Americana – The Music of Paul McCartney, Keb’ Mo’s Oklahoma (which won a Grammy for Best Americana Album), and “I Saw the Light,” the theme from the movie based on country legend Hank Williams.

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