Meet the Founder Laura K. Vannah

Laura K. Vannah, M.A. is an international production and event expert!

Laura K. Vannah, M.A.

Laura K. Vannah, M.A. Founder & Executive Director

Because her mother was a piano teacher for over 30 years, Laura’s first passion of music awakened at the age of four when she started learning classical piano.

Laura has spent the past fifteen years focusing on developing and enhancing her passion for the Arts.

She has served as the Stage and Production Manager for a Fortune 5000 company as well as the international communications liaison for an $11 million wholesale liquidation project.

While working as the Director of Member Services & Marketing Associate for StageSource she organized seminars, regional auditions, and other special projects.

In addition to these tasks she worked on two two-year nation-wide service delivery projects, revised learning materials of the Calgary Health Region’s pregnancy manual Best Beginning to be more culturally appropriate for Aboriginal women in Canada, and designed and edited The Ten Grandmothers, a book by Linda Many Guns.

These diverse endeavors helped to hone the variety of skills that Laura would use to found and cultivate Bright Star ProductionZ.

As the President and CEO of Bright Star ProductionZ, Laura has produced, managed and directed over 60 public and private corporate murder mystery dinner theater performances in the past six years at multiple venues throughout Central NY.  Presentations including the creation and development of a day-long street performance of It’s A Wonderful Life in 2008.

Bright Star ProductionZ incorporated Laura’s love of the Arts with her knowledge of directing and producing.

These desires coupled with her passion for “all things Native American” led her to found the Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival.

As the Founder & Executive Director, Laura has spent the past five years cultivating the festival and enlightening the community to the diversity of the Native American Arts and Culture.

In 2010, she single-handedly expanded the Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival to a two-day event, tripled the number of attendees to almost 1000 people, doubled the number of vendors, and scheduled over ten hours of music and dance performances, storytelling, and educational presentations.

Laura’s commitment to the mission of the Native Circle to use Indigenous music, wisdom, arts and culture to Strengthen Our Spirit & Create Unity by Celebrating Our Diversity through performances and interactive educational programs is apparent as she continues to strive to bring unique and diverse talent to the Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival.

Laura at the 2011 Native American Music Awards

Laura at the 2011 Native American Music Awards

Not only does Laura bring in Nationally Recognized and Award Winning Artists, she too is a 2009 Native American Music Award Winner for Best Historical Recording on Native Pride as a member of the Thunder Hawk Singers, and was nominated again for a 2010 Native American Music Award for her participation on the CD Rise Up. The Thunder Hawk Singers music was featured on Primal Quest Badlands, a documentary film by Randy Ericksen.

She has opened for Joseph Firecrow, a Grammy Nominee Northern Cheyenne Flutist, and won Silver, Bronze and Overall Championship Medals at the 1998 World Championship for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles.

In addition to being a talented artist she continues to challenge herself to reach out and give back to the community.

Laura created and teaches her workshops on “Totem Spirits: Nature Speaks to Us If We Listen” and leads focus groups on an international level. She is also the creator of The Spiritual Actor in which she combines Native American Animal Totem work, Consciousness Practices, and Acting techniques to ignite your IT factor so you can connect, express, and live your dreams.

Furthermore Laura has been the Guest Speaker at The Whitman School for Management, OCM Boces Cortland Campus, the WISE Center, and Theatre Resources Unlimited in NYC.

She received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia and her Masters in Theatre from Binghamton University.

I love producing this  festival. I remember a woman coming up to me just after I’d performed Cherokee Amazing Grace for the first time in public in 2007. She was in tears as she told me just how much it had touched her heart as she was going through the loss of a loved one.

There were Eagles soaring overhead as I shared with the audience the personal significance of this song. My grandparents had passed away in January of that year. My grandmother, who was 82, died 48 hours after my grandfather, who was 95.  They had been married for just over 61 years and in honor of their memory, and because they both had Amazing Grace played by a lone bagpipe player at their funerals , I learned and then dedicated this song to them.

Now every year, I close each day of the festival with this tribute to my grandparents and all of those who have passed away.

Laura K. Vannah, M.A., Founder of the Native Circle Touch the Earth Festival honors Mark J. Wright with her signature song Cherokee Amazing Grace at the Artistically Speaking Tribute on January 30, 2011 at the Syracuse Civic Center.

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