Former Choir Members

Adetola Abiade
Adetola Abiade
Alto

Adetola got introduced to Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir at their Spiegel Tent Show on October 1, 2006, while supporting and watching her good friends Paul Allen and Andrew Pacho perform. During that very show, Reverend Billy did something his choir and band had not planned for -- a mini open mic for people in the audience with an impromptu “call and response” segment. The words the Reverend asked the audience to repeat and sing resonated with her: “If you don’t know your history, you are doomed to repeat it.” With the forceful encouragement of a friend, the heavenly microphone made it into the hands of Adetola, and she was plucked out of musical obscurity by Savitri D. and Reverend Billy, asked to join the choir, and dropped into the welcoming arms of their raucous and diverse activist theatre community.

Adetola is from Rhode Island and was raised by native Nigerian parents who taught her and her siblings the importance of education, sacrifice, love, and the use of one's talents to make a difference in the world. Her musical inspirations range from Stevie Wonder, Dinah Washington, Oleta Adams, India Arie and many other vocal legends. Since joining Rev. Billy and the Choir, Adetola has gone through a “Consumption Awakening” and has been more thoughtful in where, why and how she spends her hard earned dollars. When one listens to any of the famous Stop Shopping sermons, you can’t help but challenge yourself to think about the mechanics of consumption and its impact on the world without being forever changed. Adetola has now kicked the big box to the curb and takes pride in the support of Fair Trade, small business, and causes that protect workers, celebrate the arts and the environment. Sing-a-lujah!!!!

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
--
Eleanor Roosevelt

Paul Allen
Paul Allen
Tenor
Paul is from Boston, he is a Chef and a wonderful dinner companion. Recently he has been teaching teens to cook. Check it out.
Ben Cerf
Ben Cerf
Basso

He always suspected there was something sinister in shopping. Brands befuddled him and the logos burned with meaningless urgency. Always and here he is.

Mi Sun Choi
Mi Sun Choi
Soprano
Originally from Korea, Mi Sun received her MFA degree in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College in 2003. She has been exploring different venues to continue her artistic career as a dancer, singer, or actress in New York. She is one of the affiliate artists of The Concrete Temple Theater company.
David Chung
David Chung
Tenor
David Chung is a freelance music and movement educator residing in Queens, NY. He has been performing for fifteen years in companies as varied as the Oratorio Society of New York, Broadway Housing Communities After-school Program, and DA Sokol Gymnastics Team, in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the auditorium of PS 66, and Christopher Street Station. He is dedicated to  vegetarianism, bicycling, and queer Asian media.
Leah Farrell
Leah Farrell
Tenor
"There's a time for pirating and there's a time for singing." How lovely to not be buying anything! Through deserts dusty and book release parties boozy Leah came into the open arms of the lovely Stop Shopping communitas. When Leah is not H.A.A.K.ing or feeding lil' lovable scamps she is practicing her harmonies and establishing her rhythm. On her off hours she cultivates temporary autonomous zones and reads distant fiction. "Look for the absurd, and jump!" She is a Tenor and very proud to be working out the kinks in identity flexibility of all sorts. "May your alternative to shopping have a lot to do with fun! and art! and may the world use all downward spirals to whip up into new orbits. Hallelujah!" 
Gina Figueroa
Gina Figueroa
Alto
Gina “La Loca” Figueroa is a revolutionary soul singer and a homesteader. The child of Puerto Rican nationalists and a serious native of the East Village she got her start in show business as the youngestmember of the now infamous SOLID GOLD dance machine. Since then she has worked as an actress, a model, a singer and what is sometimes known as an “instigator.” Gina is a loyal friend, a gifted monologuist and makes strong coffee wherever she goes.
Dahlia Goldenberg
Dahlia Goldenberg
Soprano
Dahlia has always loved to sing and has always cared about community development and the power of the people. But never has she been able to combine it all before – wow! When she’s not singing with the Choir, she is working for her other great passion in life – the Huairou Commission and GROOTS International -- a global network of grassroots women’s groups that do local community development, link up as a movement for change in policy, and deepen their own local work.
Jerry Goralnick
Jerry Goralnick
Basso
It was a dark stormy night. Turning up my collar against the biting wind, I roamed the docks hoping to find a little comfort on a cold wintry night. It’s funny how desire can drive a man. I heard a scurrying from behind but before I could react, I felt cold steel against my head and the lights on the wharf dripped into my unconsciousness. Upon awakening I first felt the swaying, and then I heard the sound of the water beating against the hull. Shanghaied! I was on a tramp steamer, bound I knew not where. The door to the little cabin swung open and there stood the meanest, orneriest scoundrel I’d every encountered on the seven seas. Dressed in black boots and pantaloons, two belts holding swords criss-crossed his chest. Oddly, he had no nipples. “I’m Captain Starbuck, and this ship is mine. You’ll do as I say or I’ll keel haul ya.” I soon learned what that meant. Slavery, processed foods, days of mindless, strenuous work filled with a fear that blossomed into self-loathing for not having the strength to overcome my predicament.

All that changed one morning when sailing towards us out of the sun came a frigate flying the cancelled Mickey Mouse. Before we could man the cannons, we were boarded and the captain and his cronies were quickly subdued. And there standing before me was a man. His pompadour was huge. His white collar barely smudged. “You’re all free!” he said, “They call me Reverend Billy and this ship is no longer Starbuck’s. In the name of the Church of Stop Shopping, this is now a bright unclaimed space. You’re welcome to join me, especially if you’re a tenor. But even if not, you’re still welcome.” How inclusive, I thought. And that’s how I came to join the Church of Stop Shopping. 
Marianne Hodge
Marianne Hodge
Tenor
When you give in to creative passion, it will bring you to the ultimate thresholds of transfiguration and renewal. This growth causes pain, but it is a sacred pain. It would be much more tragic to have cautiously avoided these depths and remained removed on the shiny surfaces of the banal.” – John O’Donohue, from his book Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Marianne first witnessed the creative passions of Reverend Billy, Savitri D., and The Church of Stop Shopping at the Astor Place Starbucks in New York City. Both enlivened and fascinated by their synthesis of art, performance, song, and activism, Marianne was soon singing and participating in the event she came to watch. Such is the nature of street theater, where the street is the stage and the spectators often become part of the performance.

Marianne’s first real experience with social awareness, service engagement, and peace activism came from the Dominican sisters and her teachers at Molly College. Growing up in the 80’s she was also influenced by the activism of pivotal groups who called for radical and proactive responses to the crises of the Cold War nuclear arms race and emergence of AIDS.

Marianne has been in several vocal groups and celebrates the opportunity to be a part of this performance community. When not with the Church, crafting, reading, traveling, or dancing, Marianne teaches Naam Yoga at Cat Cow Yoga Studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and studies at the Universal Force Healing Center in New York City. 
Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson
Drums
Birthdate: January 15th 1972 (same day as Martin Luther King, same year as Watergate). Started playing drums in 1977 (same year P-funk recorded their Mothership concert to vinyl and 8-track). Grew up playing gospel in the church in Chicago until I left for college in 1990. Played with Afro-cuban band Maruwa in college. Started collecting records while in college. Graduated college in 1994 (B.S. in Marketing). Moved back to Chicago. Played on tv commercials for McDonald's, Anheuser-Busch, Busch gardens, Toys R' Us, and Budweiser. Did production work with Crucial Conflict, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Common, Angie Stone, Jamie Foxx, Pras and Wyclef. At the present time I play with Spank (spankfunk.com), Tycoondog (tycoondog.com), Cool Hand, Orbita, Funky Fritters, Adrian Hibbs and the Riot, and of course, the Not Buying it Band. I also have dj mixes under the DJ MARBLE icon on deephousepage.com, bringtheheat.com, and theundaground.com
Gwen Kash
Gwen Kash
Alto
Gwen Kash - Alto Gwen may look innocent, but fortunately for the safety of Western Civilization, the NYPD wasn’t fooled. Seeing her engaged in the extremely hazardous activity of stopping her bicycle at a red light, they acted quickly to arrest her – three times. Annoyed at spending the night in jail and having her beloved bicycle impounded, Gwen and a group of jail mates – I mean new friends - formed Freewheels Bicycle Defense Fund to fight back. She beat her charges and the bike was recovered mostly unharmed from the NYPD warehouse after a month’s sentence. It has since been renamed Connie the Ex-con Bicycle. When not riding her bike, getting arrested, or going to court, Gwen enjoys hanging out in Brooklyn, reading, jello wrestling, and stopping her shopping. 
Valerie Kelly
Valerie Kelly
Tenor
Valerie is from Virginia, she is a reggae singer and a great cook, she lives in Brooklyn.
Nasser Kigiri
Nasser Kigiri
Drums
Nasser is from Uganda, he is a world class Boxer. He is a happpy new father living in Poughkeepsie these days.
Carol Lester
Carol Lester
Alto
Carol's dharmic path led her to be a proud soprano for Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, where voices intertwine to share the true gifts of love, fellowship and harmony for all humankind. She is co-founder, Vice-President of Communications, and A&R for Mamapublooza Music Publishing, and is an industry judge for the 2009 Independent Music Awards. Whether unplugged or backed by the World Women Ensemble, Carol simmers with emotion and passion. An active leader in the grassroots and social cause music scene, this award-winning ASCAP and UNISONG writer is a featured performer on Sounds of Hope: NYC Artists Remember 9/11

Songs from her three indie CDs have been licensed for use in television, film, and radio projects, including USA TV Network, The Red Cross, and 9/11 Memorial Commission. She is also a featured artist in Mamapublooza Publishing, which unites 800 international mother songwriters in earning licensing fees. Carol is Creative Director for their CD: Volume 3 Compilation: Moms Gone Mad / MamaLove.

On the grassroots front, Ms. Lester is a co-founder and two-term board president of one of the most successful urban charter schools in the Nation (LCCS), and runs a local environmental coalition to protect local school children from toxic dust particulates released from historic fill in soil during groundbreaking construction by unscrupulous developers. Visit her website and see the music video from her award-winning CD, Feed the Love Starve the War, which features the World Women Ensemble.

Anna-Sara Malmgren
Anna-Sara Malmgren
Alto
Anna-Sara spends most of her time with her nose in philosophy books, and she is glad to have found a way to express her less cerebral side, and her political frustrations. She saw reverend Billy and the choir for the first time in August 2005, and instantly realized she had to audition for the choir. A former French horn player, she very much enjoys doing music again, especially in such a fun and purposeful setting. From fall 2008 Anna-Sara is on mission in Austin, Texas.
Derrick McGinty
Derrick McGinty
Star Emeritus
Billy and I met when he came to see a Peculiar Works Project show I was in at the Dixon Place Theatre, which at that time was located at the Vineyard 26 space. I didn't know him at the time but we talked a bit after the show and did some hamming it up, a la Southern Baptist Church. Unbeknownst to me he was not just auditioning me but creating a role, the First Lady of the Church, for me. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Rest in Peace Beloved Brother Derrick. We love you FOREVER. June 2010
William Moses
William Moses
Musical Director and Composer, Bass, Guitar
With the looks of a Middle Eastern terrorist and the heart of a nappy-headed Detroit boy, William first lifted his voice with the Stop Shopping Choir in 2003. In addition to performing with the choir, he stubbornly holds to the hope that there will be more great art concerning love and deserts and cities and various seasons and diurnal moods in Sweden and Rio and other places. He is a composer and writer and producer, interested in music from the experimental to the folk. He composes for theater and film - and will act when prodded sufficiently. His website is musicbymoses.
Urania Mylonas
Urania Mylonas
Alto
Urania Mylonas is a writer and editor living in New York City. She first heard of Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir from a little bird in Washington Square Park named Harvey.

Urania's photo page
Michael O'Neil
Michael O'Neil
Manager, Media Relations
"How I got into the Church: Though I'd read of Billy in contraband copies of Adbusters while attending Catholic high school, I didn't meet him until the freezing, though exhilarating Febuary 15th march of this year. Laura the Soprano introduced me to the choir and I've been enjoying the ride ever since."

Michael O'Neil came to New York City in 2002 to work in media, the arts and political organizing. Michael has provided media and online consulting to groups including the Lower Eastside Girls Club, Green Party of New York State, the Writers Guild Of America East, and Ad Hoc Art. Other current endeavors include broadcasting on WBAI-FM, serving as Secretary of the Green Party of Brooklyn, and he is a founding member of the online, creator-owned media startup Strike.TV, organized in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 Writers Strike. He was born in Columbus, Ohio and attended college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He currently resides in Brooklyn.
Gregory Ostrom
Gregory Ostrom
Basso
Gregory has been following the Rev. for more than 5 years and has particularly enjoyed Buy Nothing Day Actions. He joined the choir during the Rev. Billy for Mayor campaign. Recently he was seen singing Remove Starbucks in Zurich with honorary chorister Oliver Rizzi Carlson.

Gregory has been singing for decades. He has been on stage since he was five (and has the original handwritten script to prove it.) He played the violin and viola in the BAFFA Symphony Orchestra. Gregory is also a founding member Companion Communites, a social justice organization that works in Latin America offering support to impoverished communities and those recovering from major natural disasters.

In a past incarnation Gregory was a fireman, monk, and teacher. Currently he works as a social worker, creates stained glass windows and block prints. He is an accomplished cook whose favorite meals include Abbraccio D'Oliva and Cervelles au Beurre Noir. Food-a-lujah!
Stefani Peikin
Stefani Peikin
Soprano
Stefani is a vocalist from Virginia.  She holds a BA in Vocal Performance, Opera & Classical music.  She can be seen & heard around NYC performing with, “Cold War,” “Live Perl,” and her band, “Stefani and the Soft Corps,” and as the voice in a slew of radio spots. You can also see her in a few small roles in indie films, and on the improv comedy circuit.  In her free time she supports the live music scene or can be found baking tasty goodies.  Always knowing that authority should be questioned, she feels she has found a home within this truly remarkable community.  She is ecstatic to be absolved of her shopping demons and spreading the love and singing the gospel with Reverend Billy and family.
Don Owen Rider
Don Owen Rider
Basso
In 2001, a young Owen on vacation stumbled into the East Village on a hot, steamy August afternoon looking for a Fringe Festival theatre. Unable to find 8th Street and tired from the heat, all he really wanted was a tall, frosty Frappuccino from Starbucks.  He looked everywhere but there was no sign of Starbucks.  "What is this place?" he thought.  "Get me back to Times Square!"

Little did he know that he would one day hear the Good News of the Starbucks-less at a Reverend Billy revival in that strange neighborhood of owner-run coffee shops, and not only back away from the Frappuccino, but join the Stop Shopping Choir!  Owen hopes to inspire others to stop their shopping, one coffee beverage at a time.

Maraluna Rivas
Maraluna Rivas
Alto
Maraluna Rivas, Native New Yorker, was born on a stage. Her parents Margie and Bittman "Bimbo" Rivas, legendary
for their work in the housing movement and revolutionary theater, her talent comes as a part of the blood line. Acting since she was a child, and watching her father and mother work as historical theater giants, has moved Maraluna to become an actress. It is an honor and a privilege for her to work with Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping gospel Choir. A full time student at Hunter College and being a stellar mother as well.

She would like to thank her son Mason; Glen, her brothers Bimbi & Kaita, her niece Majic, her cousin Gina, her God-father Chino, Luis Guzman and ALL of her friends for all their love, support and inspiration. 
Jean Rohe
Jean Rohe
Jean Rohe is a vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. Born in Paterson, NJ, Jean grew up singing and performing folk music with her family all over her home state and quickly grew to embrace jazz as well as Brazilian and Afro-Peruvian musical styles. In July 2006 she won 2nd place and the audience choice award in the international vocal competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.  She has sung extensively in a variety of groups and venues in New York as well as abroad, although she may be best known for her preemptive rebuttal of Sen. John McCain at Madison Square Garden during her graduation from the New School in May 2006.  Her first record, “Lead Me Home,” features her original compositions and some songs from the Southern Hemisphere. She teaches and performs music for young children at public schools on the Lower East Side through the Third Street Music School Settlement and at other places throughout the city.

Jean first encountered the Church of Stop Shopping at St. Mark’s Church following a civil-disobedience training during the 2004 Republican National Convention protests in New York City.  It was an historical moment that seemed so full of possibility and people power, and the incredible feeling of freedom in the Stop Shopping Gospel touched her profoundly and still rings in her head each time she gets too close to “the product.”  In spring 2008 Jean officially joined the congregation and is so glad she did.
Hear more at www.jeanrohe.com.

Sari Rubenstien
Sari Rubenstien
Alto
Sari is a lifelong New Yorker. After attending a string of incredibly hip art schools, she began performing as lead singer of The Gamma Rays (Teenbeat Records) and Music From The Mood Expansion Chamber. She is a proud member of the Missile Dick Chicks and a founder of Rubulad, a community-based arts organization that produces large scale, multi-media events. Her belief that music and performance can change the world remains unshaken. 
Judy Sky
Judy Sky
Soprano
"I believe that service to mankind , is the rent that we pay for a life on earth." So, I have always sought out worthwhile causes for my music and art. If my work inspires, causes dialogue, provokes change or just provides a moment of pleasure, then I know that I have succeeded. 
Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith
Alto
Several years ago I came to the realization that choice of product has become one of the few avenues Americans have to assert their individuality and sense of self. Increasingly, life is dictated from the minute one awakes until the television is turned off after the nightly news at 11. Then I read an article in the New York Times printed a few years ago about this performance artist, Reverend Billy, who had the audacity to confront this very subject. Not only did he decry our emotional and spiritual state but the ethical reaches of consumerism in this country and its tentacles that reach far and wide. I had to meet this person and, once I did, was more than willing to join his battle to thwart the grotesque evils of shopping!
Ruby Spiegel
Ruby Spiegel
soprano
Ruby lives in Brooklyn and is a sophomore at St. Ann's School. She is an award winning playwright whose plays include "Love Me The Bone" and her most recent, inspired by Reverend Billy, "All Ye Know."

She first met the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir in the Arkaden Mall in Berlin, has sung in choirs for many years and  is monitoring the polls in Florida on election day.

Messages for Ruby here

Lizzie Steelheart
Lizzie Steelheart
Soprano
Lizzie Steelheart Taubeneck joined the church in May of 2003 and is incredibly grateful to have found such an unbelievably fun, humorous, inspired and joyful way to instigate social change through performance (with this fascinating, generous, intelligent and kooky family!).

She received her Theater BFA from NYU in 2001, and while there she studied at Playwrights Horizons Theater School, Trinity University in Dublin and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She is lucky to have worked with directors such as Liz Swados, David LaChapelle, and of course the fierce and luminous Savitri D! With Billy and the choir, she has performed on many stages large, small and unexpected: the Castro and Victoria Theaters in San Francisco, Conway Hall in London, the Highline Ballroom in New York City, the Old South Meeting House in Boston, the Burningman Festival in Nevada, churches, community centers, big box parking lots, Wal-Mart aisles, Starbucks counters, malls and various public spaces from coast to coast! She also plays guitar and writes music and has sweat, bled and spit whiskey on many of NYC's dive bar rock and roll stages, including Arlene's Grocery, the Continental, the Mercury Lounge and CBGB. She loves swimming, riding her bike, reading, Burning Man, the beach, cheese, wine, and chocolate. Aside from being a devoted Choir girl, Lizzie is a hair stylist at an independently-owned, neighborhood salon on the Lower East Side. Change-a-lujah!


Will James Tucker
Will James Tucker
Tenor
Will ('The Funk Soul Brother'), happens to share the FULL name of the first Africamerican male born to indentured servants in Jamestown, VA colonies, son of slaves Anthony and Isabella. Will, contrawise, was born and raised in Harlem, NY, where he recently returned to Striver's Row. He's the only brother of jazz singer 'The Harlem Diva' LeeOlive. And he is a 'Femynistical Holstorian' and 'Jazzstorian' where he served as a consultant to the late great Big Apple Jazz/EZ's Woodshed, which was located across from the fabled and replanted 'Tree of Hope.' He is a writer and vocalist, and grew up listening to Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald regularly on the record player. His passion is for an ecologically sane planet, and to see The Democratic Republic of Congo TRULY at peace, strong and economically independent, at last.


Rick  Ulfik
Rick Ulfik
Keys
Rick Ulfik is an award-winning composer, musician, songwriter and sound design specialist who has written, produced, arranged and performed music for ABC TV, NBC TV and CBS TV, the Olympics, feature films, commercials, and major recording artists including Queen Latifah, Phoebe Snow, Carlos Santana, Judy Collins, Bernadette Peters and Reverend Billy and the Church of Life After Shopping. Rick is also a full time social change organizer and activist. He is the Founder and Board Chair of We, The World, and Founder and a Principal Coordinator of the WE Campaign, developing global networks of collaboration and activism. Supporters include Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra, Daniel Ellsberg, Riane Eisler, Robert Thurman, Patch Adams, Hazel Henderson, Michael Lerner and many others.

Francisco Valera
Francisco Valera
Basso
Francisco Valera was born and raised in Caracas-Venezuela. His first theatre experience was at six years old with Grupo Cultural La ladera, playing a poor student in a chaotic school in a country in crisis — a character not far removed from his own reality. He worked seven years with this company on a number of productions, performing plays with a strong political message (and very inspirational) in hospitals, prisons and on the streets.
Following this, Francisco took a long detour — an exciting and eye opening journey out of his acting path into the world. Joyful and painful experiences took place."I didn't go to college, and yet It feels as if I got a P.h.D." this detour ended after Sept 11, 2001, when he witnessed the most horrific scene of his life: "I was there, on Church St. standing speechless and sobbing as I saw people jumping off the towers in fire, thinking, death comes and take us in the most unexpected ways, sometimes we don't even know is happening and in a second were gone."
 He is very Proud to be a permanent member of Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir! Francisco lives and loves in the East Village. 
He just finished his amazing film DOG RUN.