It’s a whole new show, with our third batch of surprising, comedic and serious stories about life in Tyler and East Texas. On July 17 and 18 (tickets here!), five storytellers, a 13-year-old mariachi singer, a guitar/harmonica/tambourine one-man band and two local virtuoso flautists take the (virtual) stage from Callynth Photography studio. You can read more about them below, along with the many talented professionals who make this show happen behind the scenes.
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Abygayl Aranjon-Alvarez, storyteller
Abygayl Aranjon Alvarez has called Lindale, Texas, home for 22 years. She likes riding bikes with her husband, day trips to Tyler State Park, and advocating for people in her community, whether it’s public health issues or education. Abygayl and her husband of 27 years have three children together. She quips, “I’m fortunate enough that I live on my parents’ property and get to mooch off them. Whatever you think you know about me from this bio, you don’t. I love to shift people’s expectations about me.”
Ramoth Gilead, musician
Ramoth Gilead moved to East Texas at a young age and is a full-time singer, songwriter and performer. You can find him playing (barring pandemic) at The Grove in Tyler, Fredonia Hotel in Nacogdoches, retirement homes and country clubs. Ramoth has won awards and competitions all across the nation, most recently second place at the San Diego County Fair Songwriting Competition.
Hewan Knight, storyteller
Hewan Knight, 16, is originally from Ethiopia. She has lived in Tyler for almost eight years, since she was adopted. She will be a junior at her high school, where she runs cross country. Hewan garnered national attention when she took a stand against wearing the name Robert E. Lee on her athletic jersey. She likes to eat at Fresh by Brookshires.
T.J. Rankin, storyteller
T.J. Rankin has lived in the Tyler area all his life. When he isn’t serving the patrons of Tyler Public Library, he’s either reading ghost stories or watching a good movie with his girlfriend. T.J. is a burgeoning storyteller, a member of the Tejas Storytelling Association and the Blueprint Toastmaster.
Renn Stein, storyteller
Renn Stein is a recent graduate at All Saints Episcopal School, where he was debate team captain, tennis team captain, trumpet player in the band and a tutor in the writing center. In his free time, he enjoys playing piano and 3D printing. Renn plans on attending Stanford University in the fall.
Lisa Williams, storyteller
Lisa Williams is a Tylerite of 50 years and a LVN Field Nurse for Aquinai Homehealth Company. She is president of Black Nurses Rock Tyler, Secretary of NAACP, a member of AKA sorority, and board member of Keep Tyler Beautiful, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and BancorpSouth Bank. Lisa is also a member of Leadership Tyler Class of 33. About her family, Lisa says, “They are my everything.”
Michael Guinn, Out of the Loop 3 emcee
Michael Guinn is a native of Jacksonville. He works as a full-time social worker and part-time as a motivational speaker and poet. He holds a master’s degree in social work from Stephen F. Austin State University. Michael volunteers with organizations that provide services for youth living with mental illness, and for women who have experienced human trafficking and domestic violence. He was a storyteller during Out of the Loop, Season 2, and appeared in The Tyler Loop’s COVID Stories series.
Sue Bugg, musician
Sue Bugg is a native of Gilmer, Texas. She is a retired band director, having taught public school in East Texas for 34 years. She is adjunct flute instructor at The University of Texas at Tyler, East Texas Baptist University and Stephen F. Austin State University. Sue has taught private lessons for 44 years.
Karina McBrayer, musician
Karina McBrayer, a native of Georgetown, Texas, has been playing flute for 24 years and teaching music for 15 years. After teaching music as a band director in East Texas for the last seven years, she became a freelance music educator so she could invest more time in her ridiculously cute toddlers, Liam and Declan.
Christo Escalanté, musician
Thirteen year-old Christo Escalante was born in Dallas and lives in Mount Pleasant. At six years old, he appeared on a Saturday Univision program. Later, he was featured on Telemundo’s La Voz Kids, Season 2. Christo currently takes opera lessons and sings every month in Fort Worth at La Gran Plaza.
Grayson Lackey, videographer
Grayson Lackey is an award winning writer/director/director of photography who has had his work appear in festivals in L.A, Chicago and all over Texas. His lifestyle of rubbing shoulders with both blue-collar workers, as well as the artistic community, has developed his empathic, intimate visual style. In addition to directing video for Out of the Loop 3, Grayson produced video for all of The Tyler Loop’s COVID Stories series.
Leah Moser Wansley, creative director, Out of the Loop and The Tyler Loop board member
Leah Moser Wansley is a business and marketing consultant, Chief Brand Pilot for First iZ, and a board member for The Tyler Loop. She is the former president of the Leadership Tyler and Discovery Science Place boards of directors, a member of the executive committee of Leadership Tyler Catalyst 100, and a member of the Dayspring Live Broadcast team. Leah graduated from Whitehouse High School, Tyler Junior College, and the University of North Texas in Communication Design.
Neal Katz, music producer, Out of the Loop and The Tyler Loop board chair
Neal Katz serves as rabbi at Congregation Beth El in Tyler, TX. In 2003, he was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to his pulpit life, Rabbi Katz is also a singer/songwriter and music producer. He has taught courses in Introduction to Judaism and Jewish Philosophy at TJC and UT Tyler. He serves on numerous local non-profit Boards and has won the T.B. Butler Award and The W.C. Windsor Awards from the Tyler Chamber of Conference for outstanding community service. He is married to Jennifer Katz and together they have three children.
Jamie Maldonado, Photographer, Out of the Loop
An East Texas native, Jamie Maldonado has worked as a visual journalist and copy editor for the Longview News-Journal, The Denver Post, and other publications. He serves as the campus photographer and graphic designer at Kilgore College, and moonlights as a fine art photographer (complete with a master’s degree).
Brian Brandt, Performance Coach, Out of the Loop
Brian Brandt has spent his life supporting the transformation of individuals and organizations. In his three decades of leadership experience, he has served in such roles as a C.E.O., public relations director, national sales director, executive pastor, and college tennis coach. He regularly speaks on leadership topics including: blind spots, leadership, effective communication, non-profit issues, and how to bring a vision to fruition. He recently coauthored Blind Spots: What you don’t know CAN hurt you, with Ashley Kutach. Through Core Insights, Brian provides employee and leadership training, strategic planning, executive coaching, a speakers’ bureau, as well as Dale Carnegie training programs.
Jane Neal, Storytelling Director, Out of the Loop, Executive director, The Tyler Loop
Jane Neal is the storytelling director of Out of the Loop and executive director of The Tyler Loop. She also works at the Literacy Council of Tyler and Tyler Public Library and is a certified interfaith spiritual director. She is a member of Leadership Tyler Class 33 and a former teacher of French at Robert E. Lee High School, where she ran a storytelling program called Senior Stories. Jane and her husband Don have four children.
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