Music

Music Ministry Team

Director of Music

Jonathan Eason holds a master of music degree in voice and piano from the University of South Carolina, where he studied piano with Raymond Dudley and voice with the noted American Heldentenor Gene Ferguson. After growing up Baptist, he converted to the Catholic faith in graduate school, in large part because of the spiritual treasure he found in the Sacred Music of the great masters.

Before coming to Saint Brigid in September 2013, he served as director of music at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Camden, South Carolina, from 1993 to 2013. He became involved with the Church Music Association of America in 2006 and has never looked back, attending Sacred Music Colloquia XIX-XXI and XXV, as well as chant workshops in various places. Saint Brigid hosted Southeastern Sacred Music Workshop III in July 2017.

Since he became director of music, the Choir of Saint Brigid has sung a number of archdiocesan events, including the closing Mass at the 2014 Eucharistic Congress and the archbishop’s annual 50/60 Anniversary Mass (2014 to present), as well as the 2016 recognition Mass for the Atlanta Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women. Sursum Corda sang the dedication Mass for the new Columbarium (August 2016) and the Masses of thanksgiving of Rev. Bryan Kuhr (2017) and Rev. Robbie Cotta (2021). In addition to directing the Choir of Saint Brigid and Sursum Corda¸ he sits in from time to time with 4HG (For His Glory) and Journey of Praise.

Assistant Director of Music 

Charisse Excell is the Assistant Director of Music at Saint Brigid. Charisse directs the contemporary ensemble Journey of Praise as well as the Children’s Choir and Youth Choir. She is also a soprano section leader in the Choir of Saint Brigid. Before coming to Saint Brigid, Charisse directed the contemporary ensemble Refiner’s Fire and the Children’s Choir at Saint Benedict Parish for many years. As sound production minister for this parish, Charisse managed sound for parish musicals, cantors, guest artists and concerts. During her years at Saint Benedict, Charisse recorded the CD This Little Light with Rhythm and Praise, which sold out, and she was the featured vocalist on the CD Seasons of Meditation with Mueller-Excell. Both of these CDs were well received by the local Catholic community.

Charisse has been blessed to work with and learn from actors such as Mickey Rooney, Tommy Tune, and Nanette Fabray among others during her years in professional theater. In her spare time, Charisse enjoys sharing her professional teaching and music experience with her piano and voice students.

Organist

Rhett Barnwell is a professional organist, harpist, cellist, and French horn player. He is internationally recognized as a composer and arranger, and is the founder of Seraphim Music, which publishes sacred, classical and meditative music for harp, voice, choir, and other instruments. He has concertized extensively in the United States and in Rome, Venice, and Florence, Italy, and in Ireland. A specialist in classical and sacred music for the harp, he has been in demand as a presenter and performer at major conferences such as the Southeastern Harp Conference, Somerset Folk Harp Festival, Harp Journeys, and others. He has organized biannual Liturgical Harp Conferences since 2007. He has given workshops and concerts for American Harp Society (AHS) Chapters in Washington, D. C., Minneapolis, Nashville and New Orleans, and was a performer at the 2016 AHS National Conference and the 2017 AHS Summer Institute.

Mr. Barnwell earned a Master of Music degree from St. Louis Conservatory and pursued Doctoral studies in Organ and Choral Conducting at the University of Georgia. He has also performed with the Spoleto Festival Orchestra (Italy), Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife (Spain), AIMS Festival Orchestra (Austria), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony, and other orchestras. He has served as a Director of Music and Organist for churches in the Southeast since 1983. He served as Saint Brigid’s first full-time Director of Music from 2003 to 2007, and returned to Saint Brigid in 2017 as Organist.

Accompanist

Catherine McClain is the Accompanist for Journey of Praise, Children’s Choir, and Youth Choir; she plays both piano and organ for other Masses as needed. As Wedding Music Coordinator, she meets with couples to plan Music for their weddings.

She grew up in the Maryland/Washington, DC area, graduating from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. She received an Associate of Arts degree in Music from Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, and her Bachelor of Music degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She received a Teaching Credential in Music (K-12) from California State University in Hayward, California.

A lifelong musician and educator, Catherine has been involved for many years as pianist and organist at many Catholic churches from Maryland to California to Georgia. “Music has been my life-long passion, and I am grateful for my God-given talent! I hope to share it with others for many years to come.”

Audio Engineer  

Rob Thomas has served as Audio Engineer for the Saint Brigid Music Ministry since August 2017. He has degrees from Francis Marion University (B.S. in Business) and the SAE Institute of Atlanta (Diploma in Audio Technology). He manages sound for the 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 Sunday Masses during the choir season, as well as for other occasions throughout the year. His technical knowledge, finely tuned ear, and ability to remain calm in emergent situations have been a blessing for the Music Ministry.