Fran McKendree and Ann Holtz

AwakeningSoul is the partnership of Ann Holtz and Fran McKendree.  We are within the Christian household and welcome people wherever they are on their journey.  We are not part of and do not receive funding from any institution. For each of our events we invite; spiritual leaders and wisdom teachers, poets and storytellers, progressive theologians who are deeply steeped in Biblical scholarship, gifted musicians, people engaged in the hard work of love and justice, seekers on the journey, hungry souls, hopeful and despairing, young and old, all looking for ways to connect and deepen their relationship with the Divine and each other.


Ann Holtz

ANN HOLTZ - AwakeningSoul Partner


Ann Holtz is responsible for event coordination for AwakeningSoul. This role draws on her gifts of hospitality, administration, analysis, and process design. After attending an event coordinated by Fran McKendree and Brian Prior in 2008, Ann approached Fran and said two things, "that event was so wonderful - you have to recreate it" and "you need me." Thus, AwakeningSoul was born.

For over 20 years, Ann has worked as an independent consultant working with groups and individuals as they deal with issues of transition. She has extensive experience in leading retreats, developing and implementing training programs, and facilitating intact work groups, teams, and congregations. By training, Ann is a chemical engineer, a behavioral scientist, and a spiritual director. In her spare time, she can be found teaching Tai Chi and gazing out of the window as she sits at the loom.

Ann and her husband, Alan Ballew, are thrilled to call the mountains of Western North Carolina home. They are the proud parents of Renwick.


Ann describes herself as a weaver of cloth and conversation.

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FRAN McKENDREE - AwakeningSoul Partner

Fran McKendree, with friend and colleague Ann Holtz, formed AwakeningSoul to create and host space for sanctuary, sustenance, and inspiration. He is responsible for event production for AwakeningSoul and is the founder of the AwakeningSoul Ensemble.


Fran began his musical career at the age of 15, when his parents surprised him with a guitar for Christmas. He formed a trio, entered a talent contest, won first prize - a slot on a folk music radio show - and was hooked. A few years later, he formed "McKendree Spring." This innovative band went on to record 7 albums and toured extensively in the US, Canada, and the UK, performing at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Fillmore East, and performed the first rock concert ever at Radio City Music Hall.

In his heart a different path was beckoning, leading him to the Episcopal church. Since 1984, he has been traveling the country performing concerts, mentoring young people, and designing and coordinating retreats and conferences. Fran has released numerous recordings of his own and produced several other artists at his studio in Hendersonville, NC, where he now lives with his wife, Diana.

Fran says, “One of my greatest joys is being part of the gracious and generous weaving of voices, young and older, that happens when folks gather to make music together. It is truly a gift.”

Fran was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2016.


Visit him at www.franmckendree.com


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BRIAN PRIOR - Chaplain and process facilitator


Brian Prior is the resigned bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota and now serves as the assisting bishop of Olympia (Seattle). Brian is also a trained ICF coach working with both individuals and organizations. Before being called to Minnesota, Brian served as the founding rector of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Spokane, WA, vice president of the House of Deputies, and youth ministry coordinator for Province VIII.

Brian is a self-described camp-kid who became a camp director at the age of 20 beginning a lifelong passion for retreat ministry. A chance meeting at the first EYE (Episcopal Youth Event) in the early 80's began a long partnership with Fran McKendree in providing a holy space for individuals and communities to move more deeply into the presence of God. Brian has been a key member of the AwakeningSoul team since before AwakeningSoul came into being.


Brian and his wife, Staci, live in Washington State and have two grown sons, Brooks and Gage.

Diana McKendree

Diana McKendree - Meditation leader


Diana McKendree's passion is working with dreams and images. This has led her to explore a wide variety of professions – from fashion to psychology. Trained as a Jungian psychotherapist, Diana is a skilled educator, an international keynote speaker, consultant, leader of women’s pilgrimages, and Iconographer. She is a senior faculty member with the Haden Institute, teaching Spiritual Direction and Dreamwork. Ordained an Interfaith Minister, Diana continues to search for the common threads that weave humanity and soul together.

Diana lives in the NC mountains with her husband, Fran, and two beloved furry creatures.


Lindsey Blount

LINDSEY BLOUNT is an American folk and jazz vocalist born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida. Her interest and passion for music led her to Boston, where she completed her studies at Berklee College of Music. After finishing her degree, she married and relocated to her new home in Freiburg, Germany. She currently splits her time between teaching at the Freiburg University of Art, Design, and Music (hKDM) and The Jazz und Rockschule. She enjoys songwriting, performing, exposing her youth choir to Motown, and cooking with her husband, Jan. 

Over the past few years, Lindsey and Fran have collaborated to compose many of the chants that have become an integral part of the AwakeningSoul experience.

Isabel Castellvi

ISABEL CASTELLVI is a versatile cellist, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, songwriter, music educator, and yoga teacher. She received an undergraduate degree in music performance at DePaul University and a Master's in the Contemporary Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music.

Isabel has performed, recorded, and taught throughout North America, Europe, India, Asia, South and Central America, and the Middle East. These experiences are a great source of inspiration, deepening the understanding of music as a universal language and revealing its power to connect people and communities. She aspires to share this oneness through art, creativity, and healing practices.

After many years of living in NYC, Isabel is now living, teaching, and performing in Asheville.

Visit her at www.isabelcastellvi.com

River Guerguerian

RIVER GUERGUERIAN is a multi-percussionist/composer/educator. He has been inspiring audiences with his colorful and innovative percussion for over thirty years. Whether collaborating with world-class symphonies, studio artists or creating his own dynamic explorations of rhythm, his devotion and attention to the vibrant life of the drum reverberate with the listener. He has performed in prestigious concert halls around the world and has recorded on over 250 albums and film soundtracks. 

In 1994, River sold all possessions, left civilization, and lived in a wildlife sanctuary in the Himalaya Mountains for 5 years.  River is the Music Director of the Odyssey Community School, and as Artistic Director for Asheville Rhythm, produces the Asheville Percussion Festival, now in its eighth year.  In 2016, he received the Best of Asheville “musician who gives back” award.

River lives with his wife, Holly, and their youngest daughter in Asheville.

Visit him at www.ShareTheDrum.com

Charles Milling

CHARLES MILLING is a musician’s musician; songwriter, singer, producer and music director.  Born and raised on music in New Orleans, he now lives in Southeast Florida with his wife, Julie, their two dogs - Uki and Dela, and their brand new baby, Ellis.  Charles is a graduate of both Berklee College of Music and NYU. He is a gifted multi-instrumentalist and a spiritual-music creator and enthusiast. 

Charles leads a music community, Live Hymnal, which breathes new life into hymns (and anyone who hears them!), playing in church on Sundays and recording albums.


Find out more at https://livehymnal.com/

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CHRIS ROSSER is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, composer and producer from Asheville, NC. As a solo performer, he has released four recordings, including the latest A Thousand Hands. He and the world fusion trio, Free Planet Radio, toured 20 cities in China in 2016, and have released four recordings, including the latest Stillness. He also tours internationally in the bands of Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Rhonda Larson, and Lizz Wright.  In 2017, Rosser received a NC Arts Council Composer Fellowship.


Rosser has produced/engineered over 200 CD’s for other artists in his recording studio, and has composed music for national commercial spots, and TV shows on Animal Planet, TLC, OWN, PBS and more.


Visit him at www.chrisrosser.com


HOLLY DOLL is co-founder/co-owner and current president of Native Artists United/Five Nations Art. NAU is a cooperative of Native Artists devoted to perpetuating and revitalizing Native art and creating a local Native-based art economy. Holly enjoys encouraging artists to find the value in their work and creating a sustainable, reliable, long term outlet for them. 


Holly is a Salzburg Global Fellow, part of the 2019 cohort of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. She is currently serving a term on the National Advisory Board for Racial Reconciliation with the Episcopal Church.

As an Urban Native youth, growing up off reservation, Holly found herself feeling disconnected from her culture. Native art, especially bead work, offered a bridge connecting her with her culture and its traditions. She enjoys creating in many mediums including bead work, quill work, and watercolor. Today, she incorporates a deep understanding of Native traditions in all that she creates.

Holly is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Her Lakota name is Anpao Win (First Light Woman). She lives, works, and creates beautiful art in Mandan, ND.

Learn more about NAU at http://nativeartistsunited.com/

We acknowledge that AwakeningSoul events could not happen without our core staff who attend to design and facilitation of our process work, hospitality, design and creation of our space, art, worship, movement, audio and lighting, and so much more.

Core staff…

Alan Ballew ~ hospitality for participants and staff
Angelo Gianni ~ videography

Carrie Graves ~ virtual production

Eric Murrell ~ sound and lighting design, front of house engineer

Rachel Watkins ~ zoom room management