A native of Winston-Salem, NC, Claire Culbreath began her career as a pianist at the age of eight years old when she received private lessons of the music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. At seventeen, she received a music scholarship to Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC where she majored in Piano Performance. Claire continued her studies at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC with classical pianist Dr. Enrique Graf. She then enrolled at East Carolina University where she studied classical piano with Dr. Henry Doskey and jazz improvisation with Dr. Paul Tardif and Dr. Caroll Dashielle. The director of Music Therapy, Dr. Barbara Memory, introduced Claire to the field of music therapy. While pursuing a music therapy degree, Claire completed practicums with the emotionally handicapped, Down’s Syndrome children and geriatric individuals. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy at East Carolina University.
During her music therapy internship at the Veterans Hospital in Salem, VA, Claire’s eyesight began to fail due to diabetes and she was no longer able to fulfill her dreams as a musician and music therapist.
Shortly after her loss of sight, she suffered kidney failure. In 2000, she received a kidney transplant, donated by her brother, Scott. Claire thought then that she would never be able to play music again. Four years later, she met a piano teacher, singer/songwriter and member of the local band, “Joe Next Door“, Michael “Zoo” Zeoli, who helped her play the piano by ear. Performances followed on the piano and in song.
In 2006, Claire ran into her long time friend and now boyfriend, John Brandon. They formed a duo called “Shadowbox Two“, which later became the “Claire Culbreath Duo“. After performing together for several years, they decided they wanted a bigger sound. They now have a variety band together, that they are very proud of, called “Shades of Blue”.
They perform regularly at coffee houses, restaurants, charity events and vineyards. For more info. On the band and to hear their music, go to:
John accompanies Claire on the acoustic and electric guitars. He is a great addition to her music and spirit. They share a special bond together with their love for music
And for each other. Claire also performs regularly at several retirement homes and churches. Her guide dog Shadow, a beautiful black lab, is always by her side. She is also seldomly asked to speak and give her testimony. Audiences are inspired by songs and words that are uplifting and heartfelt.