SOPRANO/ALTO

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Cal Armistead has taken lessons in flute, piano, trumpet, drums and clarinet.  She plays none of these instruments.  This music-lesson dropout plays a little self-taught guitar, and for special occasions, cowbell.  But mostly, she sings.  Cal has sung with choirs big and small, featuring every kind of music from madrigals to showtunes to rock. She has sung with bands in upstate New York and Chicago, and currently sings lead vocals with the local blues/jazz/rock band Benjamin Road.  She met her husband Tedford in college choir, and is happy to continue making music with him in Custom Blend.  When not singing, Cal works as a writer and voice-over actress. 
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Rachael Gerhard has been singing most of her life, starting at about age five, when she sang in a children’s choir. Singing very loud was her most valuable contribution to that group, and she feels that it still is one of her most marketable talents. Counting church choirs and madrigal groups, this is the 12th group Rachael has sung with. She performed the Ordo Virtutem (a 11th century musical in chant) at the Washington Cathedral, and the Washington Post said hers was a “noteworthy performance,” no pun intended.
Rachael has a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from U Mass. Amherst. She’s a Montessori teacher and an avid collector of children’s songs (300 at last count).
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Sherry Ryder grew up singing in church choirs and school choruses including the New Jersey All-State chorus, the Connecticut College Chorus and 13 years with the Masterworks Chorale of Lexington. She has also been active with Theatre III in Acton for over 30 years, playing everything from a blushing bride to a kinky Roman courtesan and currently serving on the Board of Directors. But singing with Custom Blend beats it all for sheer fun and challenge – it’s the culmination of all those years singing.
After working at Digital Equipment/Compaq as an HR Manager for 22 years, Sherry now owns and manages CambridgeWear, a woman’s clothing store in Acton. (
www. cambridgewear.net) She lives in Acton with her wonderful husband Tom and also has 3 grown daughters and 7 grandchildren.
Laura Franc: Laura grew up singing at home, at church, wherever she could get away with it.  She began singing in opera productions in high school and continued through university, most notably with Opera Sacra in Buffalo, New York.  She has been a church musician and cantor for … a long time!  Decades!  She believes firmly that music adds its own spiritual dimension to prayer that cannot be expressed any other way.  She has been part of the musical team backing major composers at the Future of the American Church Conference in Washington, DC, and for a tri-state Voice of the Faithful Conference in New York, each attended by approximately 6,000 people.  She has been co-Director of a contemporary music ministry in Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey and now in Massachusetts. She was a lead singer in the classic rock bands Quintessence and Equinox, playing throughout northern New Jersey.  She sang the role of the Astrologess in the premiere of “The Elementary Principles,” a contemporary opera by Michael Kosch, which debuted in New York City in 2002.  While she loved performing more recently in “Nunsense” and “Crazy for You,” her favorite role was that of the Mother in “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” as this resonates deeply with her real-life role as the mother of a special-needs child.  Laura met her husband (and two other Custom Blend singers) many years ago in the Allegheny College Choir, and decided a tenor was a handy thing to have around.  Laura and her husband Bernie have been making beautiful music together ever since.
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Beth Connor Nolan: Beth’s earliest memories of singing are of singing show tunes in the back seat of the car as her family drove cross-country each summer in the 1970’s. Throughout her childhood, Beth sang at her church and in local musical theater groups, and also played the piano. Since moving to Massachusetts in the late 80’s, Beth has enjoyed performing with various community theater groups, such as Theatre III in Acton, with favorite roles including Aunt March in “Little Women: The Musical”, Martha in “A Secret Garden”, and various nuns in the musical “Nunsense” which has she done several times. Perhaps not surprisingly, Beth also sings at her Catholic church in Sudbury. Before singing with Custom Blend, she sang with the former a cappella group Working for Scale. Having known most of the Blenders from being on stage with them over the years, Beth was thrilled to be able to join them in their a cappella endeavors. Beth has graduate degrees from Harvard and Boston College, and works as a learning specialist and overseer of student support at a private elementary school. She lives in Bolton with her husband, Jim, and their children, Anne and Jack – her three biggest fans!