M. Janice Mitchell is a Music Educator. She was born and raised in Decatur, Alabama with her senior year spent at Lee High School in Huntsville because of a family business move. Janice has lived in Kansas, Iowa and Illinois, and has a Vocal Performance/Piano and Organ minor (B.M.) from Auburn University, AL with graduate studies at U of I, Iowa City, IA and UTK. With many years of teaching experience in both public/private schools, church choirs and musical theatre, she is currently teaching privately in the areas of vocal production, piano literature and brass instruments.
Janice joined Montessori Internationale School in 1997 as Music Educator. She loves watching the “aha” moment when a three-year old moves like a tree in the breeze to music, or a four-year old feels the “eternal” rhythm of his heartbeat, or the five-year old learns all the lyrics plus motions to a new song.
Janice is the co-founder of Scruffy City Orchestra where she is President of the BOD and plays horn (sometimes, percussion), is the organist/pianist at Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian in Knoxville, and is the owner of and instructor at Mitchell’s Music Studio. She serves on the UT College of Music Board of Advisors and helps raise scholarship money through a Gala held each spring in Knoxville.
When she is not practicing horn, piano or choosing music for her students at MIS, she is planting another flower for the hummingbirds or the pollinators who visit her award-winning garden just past Watt Road. With only four hours of sleep each night, playing with her two Shih tzu girls Amabile and Poco and two cats Griller and Lola offers a quiet moment in a fun-filled and busy life. Janice is very active in Rotary, has served as president and currently is the DEI Chair and Mobile Meals Chair in the Rotary Club of Bearden and began her three-year term in July as Rotary District 6780 Assistant Governors Coordinator. She has a passion for and a vast collection of shoes and turtles!
Susan Rankin is a dedicated cellist with Scruffy City Orchestra, where she has been a member since 2016. Prior to this she participated in Maryville Community Orchestra. Susan describes her musical journey as a life-enriching experience, performing alongside accomplished musicians.
Growing up in East Tennessee, Susan began her musical education with piano and school band. Her dream of learning to play cello came to fruition in adulthood after her children were grown. She expresses gratitude to her teachers, Mrs. Kathleen Bowman and Mr. Mat Wilkinson, and emphasizes that music education and enjoyment transcends age boundaries. With a B.S. in Nursing from the University of Tennessee, Susan had a fulfilling career, working at the University of Tennessee Hospital and Parkwest Hospital, and she treasured her role as a stay-at-home mom.
Post-retirement, Susan has embraced volunteer nursing in her community and engages in medical missions through her church. She is married to David Rankin and has three children and three grandchildren who are her joy. Her hobbies include gardening, sewing, photography and spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Alicia Hallock Hausmann, born and raised outside of New York City, relocated to Knoxville immediately upon receiving a BSN from the University of Kentucky. She recently retired from UT Medical Center as a peri-operative nurse. She grew up playing the guitar and singing in a church choir, but transitioned to the cello as an adult, only 15 years ago. Although this was quite a challenge, she loves learning and taking lessons from Mathew Wilkinson. She always wanted to play in an orchestra and started 9 years ago in the Maryville College Orchestra. Then, Alicia became one of the four founding members of Scruffy City Orchestra.
Alicia enjoys researching the Bible, especially Greek, teaching frequently in a Bible home fellowship, playing cello, guitar and ukulele. She also competes in tennis, lifts weights, runs, and bikes. “I love Scruffy City Orchestra because we are a thriving community of musicians and more importantly, friends. We support each other and work well as a team, under the direction of our conductor Ace Edewards. Being with this group of musicians… is for me…a dream come true.”
Ahsia Spencer, a native of Virginia, moved to Knoxville in 2013 and has been a member of the Scruffy City Orchestra since its origination. Upon graduating high school, he went on to play in the Army band. Currently, he serves as clarinet section leader and drum major for the 29th Army Band, Army National Guard, in Virginia. Ahsia’s educational background includes the Army School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia where he studied bassoon, Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virgnia for Music Education (clarinet) and Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee where he received his masters in Educational Leadership.
Along with serving on the Board of Directors as the librarian for the Scruffy City Orchestra, he is an elementary music teacher with Oak RIdge Public Schools. When Ahsia is not with the orchestra or at work, he is a Zumba instructor along with being a program-builder and choreographer for colorguards in marching band and drum corps spreading from Virginia to Alabama.
Growing up in the northwoods of WIsconsin, Melissa McCoy was fortunate to learn to read music and play the clarinet in eighth grade and from there obsessively tackled piano, guitar, folk harp, saxophone, oboe and bassoon with varying degrees of success. Despite an early career as an anthropologist, then later in the publishing world with Knoxville’s Whittle Communications, Metro Pulse and other companies, she never lost sight of music, playing in small groups, community bands and orchestras as much as possible over the years. Currently, Melissa plays bass clarinet in Scruffy City Orchestra and other area musical groups. As the publicist for Scruffy City Orchestra, Melissa is responsible for the web site and for “getting the word out” to the media about SCO concerts and events. In addition, she is chairman of SCO’s annual Concerto Competition and manages the auditions. For 18 years, Melissa was the Marketing Director for Nisus Corporation, a green pesticide and wood preservation manufacturer in Rockford, Tennessee. She retired in 2022 and has been busier than ever!
Ace Edewards was born in California but raised in France. His music studies have brought him to Le Centre d’Études Supèrieures de Musique et Dance in Toulouse, France; the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow; and the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. In December of 2015, Ace received his doctoral degree in orchestral conducting from the Fred Fox School of Music at the University of Arizona.
As a conductor, Ace has led critically acclaimed performances with Opera Grand Rapids, Victory Hall Opera, Marble City Opera, and Opera in the Ozarks; symphony concerts with the Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra and Summerville Orchestra; and led a premiere at the International Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado in Àlamos, Mexico. During the Winter Festival of 2018, Ace was a cover conductor for Sarasota Opera.
In Knoxville, Ace was the producer and host of the “Afternoon Concert” on public radio station 91.9 FM WUOT. This wonderful experience surprisingly led him to his third career venture as a Trade Control Analyst in the oil and gas industry.
Ace is currently the conductor of Scruffy City Orchestra as well as the Orchestra at Maryville College.