Caitlin Tabancay Austin grew up in Berkeley, California, with her two sisters and parents of Irish and Filipino heritage. Inspired by a Kitka performance she attended as a kid, she joined Kitka in 2008. After jump-starting her lifelong choral addiction in the SF Girls Chorus, she completed her BA in Music History and began studying Bulgarian singing at UCLA. Curiosity in vocal theater led her to an artistic immersion program at Double Edge Theatre in 2012. She has directed the SFGC Camp Counselor Chorus, and she has sung with Euouae (Lacuna Arts), AVE, Saint Ignatius Church Motet Choir, More Than One, Axios, and SF Choral Artists. Currently she directs the Berkeley branch of the Kitka Community Chorus, teaches voice, and plays in local folk bands Iron Henry and the Austin Tabancay Family Band. She’s interested in art that involves sound and bodies. She’s training to become a bodyworker.
Michele Simon, a proud third-generation native Bay Arean, was raised surrounded by music: classical (especially Bach), popular (especially Ella, Frank Sinatra, and Margaret Whiting), and American folk music. She sang before she talked, played cello and guitar, and most formatively, enjoyed trading a capella harmonies with her mother’s rich alto. Her relationship with Balkan music started with folk dancing as a teenager; after a 20-year acting career, she joined Kitka in 1988, and then went on to the Balkan dance bands Anoush, Brass Menažeri, and Helladelics; as well as Zabava! Izvorno, with which she currently performs as a singer and drummer. She is a popular teacher of Balkan singing technique. She works as a bookkeeper, and lives in Oakland with her husband and daughter.
Corinne Sykes joined Kitka in 2010 after a four-year tenure with the Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus, which she also directed in 2009. She has performed at home and abroad with ensembles including the Yale Baroque Opera Project, Tangled Up in Blue (Appalachian), and The Ritz Theater Company, Inc. Currently, Corinne performs with Fanfare Zambaleta Balkan Brass Band, Zabava! Izvorno, Black Sea Surf, and Broken Shadows Family Band on vocals, Macedonian tambura, keyboard, darabuka, and dauli. Corinne is also an avid folk dancer of Balkan and Black Sea-region traditional styles.
Natalie Bartlett has spent over the last decade of her life deeply immersed in land-based culture and has a passion for learning the stories, music and skills of traditional peoples around the world. An Oakland native, she took her first workshop with Kitka in 2007 and has been honored to return to her Bay Area roots to sing with the ensemble on and off since 2014. She is a long term land steward and director of the Wild Series at Quail Springs Permaculture, a 450-acre education center in the high desert of Los Padres National Forest where she teaches traditional arts and ancestral skills - combining her deep loves of music, culture, handwork and the natural world.
Barbara Byers is a composer and performer. She was raised in the folk music traditions of the Appalachian mountains, and has studied and collaborated on performance projects in Turkey, Greece and Indonesia.
Briget Boyle is a singer-songwriter and guitar player based in Oakland, CA. With training in fields as diverse as Balkan folk singing, African drum and dance, Swedish massage, and theatre tech, Briget sang with Kitka for eight years, and was also lead singer and percussionist for the Balkan band Brass Menažeri for nine years. She currently performs with True Life Trio, an innovative vocal ensemble that explores music from the Balkans and the Americas, and has just released her two solo albums, The Parts Interior and The Next Line.
Juliana Graffagna began her musical career at a young age, singing in church choir and studying classical piano. She then ventured on to musical theatre, women’s glee club, Russian language study, and the discovery of her passion for traditional music. Juliana has worked with Kitka for more than two decades, serving as music director. Juliana currently performs with the eclectic world music ensemble Janam and the True Life Trio. She is also a studio vocalist and voice/piano teacher.