MEET THE BAND
Deanna Hurst - Lead Vocals
Deanna is a singer, actress, voiceover artist and songwriter who hails from Kansas City, Missouri. Her introduction into the arts began at a very young age. "I was always singing in front of the mirror with my hairbrush as my microphone. By studying great vocalists, I gained an appreciation for all different genres of music, thus allowing a cornucopia of influences to help develop my own style. I love any music that gets to my soul."
Performing has always been at the forefront of Deanna’s life and her career has taken her around the country and included projects on stages at Carnegie Hall, Harrah’s-Atlantic City, and The Wiltern Theatre.
Deanna’s career on the airwaves began when she landed a gig as an FM Morning Drive Show co-host. Her workload entailed writing, creating and performing different characters and song parodies on a daily basis. Her parody of Madonna was played on the Rick Dees national weekly Top 40 Countdown Show, right before Whitney Houston’s #1 song.
After a year-long run in the acclaimed Off Broadway musical parody, "Forbidden Broadway", where she impersonated Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Lauren Bacall and Chita Rivera among others, she moved to Los Angeles, and appeared in TV shows, commercials, Indie films and sang in bands you’ve never heard of. But it was her voiceover career that really took off, when the "King of Voice Overs", Don LaFontaine heard her demo and personally walked it into his agent. Since that fortunate act of generosity and support, you've heard Deanna's voice on hundreds of TV/Radio commercials, promos, station IDs, jingles and audio books.
Growing up in the Midwest in the '70s, "Lynyrd Skynyrd" and Southern Rock was a huge part of the landscape, so the opportunity to play and sing Skynyrd music was a natural fit. Although Deanna's first Skynyrd musical venture was with "Lynette Skynyrd" and then "Systyr ‘Skin-‘nerd as a rhythm guitar player, she is beyond thrilled to be back on the mic singing, doing what she was born to do.
Deanna is currently recording her original music and planning to release the songs in the near future. In the meantime, “Honoring the incredible and timeless music of “Lynyrd Skynyrd” with my rockin’ ‘Systyrs’, and singing the brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics of Ronnie Van Zant, has and continues to be an inspiring gift for which I am very grateful.”
Cathy Lauer - Guitar / Dobro / Mandolin
A native Southern Californian, Cathy grew up in Whittier, right in the middle of the Folk & Country Rock movement. In addition to Country Rock, Cathy started to play in number of bands covering a wide variety of music, including Top 40, Hard Rock, Outlaw Country & even Bluegrass.
It was the early 70s' after hearing the music created and offered from the South, particularly the Allman Brothers and then Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird", that Cathy immediately became a disciple of Southern Rock music. Already an avid fan of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts' lead & slide work, and now with Allen Collins in the mix, her destiny was sealed. In the late 70s', she picked up the Lap Steel, and also added slide guitar to her musical abilities. This newfound love of slide guitar helped her become a valuable studio & session player, while all the while honing her lead & rhythm guitar playing. In the early 90s', Cathy moved to Seattle and suddenly found herself in a sea of grunge. Rising from the depths of flannel & overly distorted, muddy guitar tones, she forged 'Catastrophe', her own Hard/Blues based, Southern Rock original band. After 'Catastrophe' disbanded, Cathy designed & built 'BobCat' Recording Studio. 'BobCat' recording studio's short successful run included such clients as Sub Pop, Mercury & Sony Records, KNND Radio & even MTV.
With the millennial, Cathy found herself back home in Southern CA playing with such bands as "Dagger Dollz" (an all female Jimi Hendrix tribute); "Cherry Bomb" (a John Mellencamp tribute) and eventually "Lynette Skynyrd" a female tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd. After 6 years with Lynette Skynyrd she is now with "Systyr Skynyrd" - The World's Only All Female Lynyrd Skynyrd Experience.
An avid Gibson guitar player, Cathy favors the traditional Lynyrd Skynyrd axes; Les Pauls, SGs' and especially her hero, Allen Collins' favorites - a Gibson Firebird & Explorer. Like her hero she also favor's Marshall amplifiers. Stinging vintage guitar tone, melodic precision lead/ slide riffs & an unwavering passion for the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd, make this self-proclaimed 'Gear Queen,' a perfect fit for Systyr 'Skin-'nerd. Cathy also plays Dobro & Mandolin; perfect for Skynyrd acoustic songs.
When she is not making music with Systyr Skynyrd Cathy is busy building custom guitar, bass & keyboard pedalboards with her company 'ToneZone LA' - ToneZone's clientele has included such artists as Guitar Shorty, America, Counting Crows, Roger Daltry & The Who.
Marija Krstic - Guitar / Vocals / Harmonica
Marija, “Maria”, Krstic was born in Eastern Europe and raised in California. Her musical roots started early when she received her first instrument, the ukulele, at age 1. She has recorded and performed since age seven, playing guitar and singing, both in groups and as a solo act. Marija’s love of rock and roll began at age 12, playing Sweet Home Alabama and other rock hits.
Marija recorded her first album at sixteen, then graduated from Cal Arts and Musicians Institute. She has been a composer and performer for various media projects on guitars, vocals, bass, keyboard, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, theremin, harmonica and percussion as well as doing acting and voice-overs. She is a professional music instructor of guitar, bass, vocals, keyboard and mandolin. Marija has performed in her original progressive rock bands, "Abyss", "Dark Light Spectrum" and others, as well as in the world’s only all female Jimi Hendrix tribute band, "Foxey Lady" , "Lady Zep" (all female Led Zeppelin tribute), and now with "Systyr Skynyrd" (The World's Only Female Lynyrd Skynyrd Experience), after playing briefly with "Lynette Skynyrd".
Marija is thrilled to share the stage and play this challenging and fun music with the talented, dedicated, passionate and professional ensemble of "Systyr 'Skin-'nerd".
Shannon Millard - Drums
Canadian native, Shannon Millard, was born to a creative family whose work ethic and perseverance allowed them to support a family on an income derived solely from the oil on canvas. The family eventually relocated to Northern California, USA, where Shannon's Dad learned and mastered metal-sculpting and glass blowing, thus adding another facet to the family business. "His sheer will and determination were qualities that always stuck with me."
Shannon's interest in drums was born partially out of inspiration from her older drumming cousin and in part, due to 4th grade "flute frustration". When she finally got up enough nerve to ask her cousin to give her drum lessons…it all began.
As her skills increased, Shannon developed a keen appreciation for drumming legends like Buddy Rich, Dave Garibaldi and Steve Gadd. By age 19, she was already playing with bands that gigged on a regular basis.
In '87, Shannon moved to LA where she began taking lessons from Rick Latham, studying funk, jazz, blues, rock, and R&B, giving her the skill and versatility to move easily between genres.
Her musical journey has led her to drumming with “DC Rush” (featuring keyboardist Byron Allred of The Steve Miller Band), an ‘80’s Cover Band “Cut Glass”, an R&B Cover Band “Sound FX, an original rock band “Bully”, an original pop band “500 Ponies”, and an original alt-pop band “He Said She Said”, and an original country band “Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters”. Other cover bands include “Evil Nancy”, the all-female AC/DC tribute “Whole Lotta Rosies”, "Lynette Skynyrd", and now “Systyr 'Skin-'nerd”, The World's Only All Female Lynyrd Skynyrd Experience . Her instinctive ability to lock in with the Skynyrd grooves make this resonant rhythm queen the perfect female counterpart to Artimus Pyle and a drumming force to be reckoned with.
Liza Carbe - Bass
Liza Carbé is a professional bassist/guitarist/vocalist, and is a co-founder of Incendio, an acclaimed, original Latin-based world-fusion band. Liza sang in her first musical at the age of five. After moving to California from Connecticut (so that her Sicilian-born father, Nino Carbe, could return to resume work at Disney studios), she started studying guitar at the age of 9. During her first year of college, she was fortunate to have a professor who studied with cutting-edge composer and instrument creator Harry Partch. One of her first assignments was to combine her welding skills with her musical knowledge and invent an instrument. Thus the Zil was born – a three-foot metal cone with 32 piano strings. Shortly thereafter she was asked to play her new Zil on the critically acclaimed new music CD “The Pillory” and later again on the “The Pillory/The Battle” written by Jasun Martz. She also performed in local clubs singing and playing guitar and working in churches as a soloist and section leader.
After graduating from Cal State Northridge with her degree in classical guitar and voice, she took off across the country, playing bass and singing with the 80’s metal group Vixen. One year later, she took another musical left turn, touring and recording with the R&B Christian artist and one-time lead singer of Santana, Leon Patillo. As she was always writing and recording with other composers and producers, she started applying her writing talents to her band Red Van Go, wherein she joined forces with longtime friends Larry Weber on guitar and Nicole Falzone on drums and vocals. The group was an eclectic rock/jazz combo that put out an independent CD and did two tours of Japan, during which they filmed a concert on the popular Tokyo Freak television show. Through 1992-1993, she was honored to be selected to play with Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac – she was asked to play guitar and sing on his solo tour across the United States and Canada. Amongst the highlights of this tour were getting to play “Go Your Own Way” with Lindsey every night, playing Radio City Music Hall, and opening many dates for Tina Turner as part of her “farewell” stadium tour.
For the last fifteen years, she has focused on working with her husband and partner, JP Durand. In 1997, they were hired by Paramount Music to compose cues for Entertainment Tonight, which were then used extensively on many other Paramount shows. Since then, they have written many different library CD’s for Sonoton, Megatrax, Five Alarm Music and Frameworx. They have also written, produced, and performed on music for “Extreme Makeover”, “American Idol”, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, “Ellen”, the Flameworthy Country Music Awards, several independent films, and a host of other network shows as well as A&E (“History of Mexico” miniseries) and Animal Planet (“Who Gets the Dog” and “Ultimate Zoo”, amongst others). Liza has also worked with the Los Angeles based-organization “City Hearts” which brings music, dance and art to the inner city and high risk youth.
Leah, originally from Portland, Maine, is the daughter of noted late jazz vocalist, Claudia Finkelstein, of Joy Spring. She began her studies as a pianist at the age of five. She picked up the guitar at age 12 and at 14, delved deeply into jazz studies with Alex "Coolie"Johns. Leah studied at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, earning her B.A. in Music Performance, with a focus on piano. After college, she lived in Boston, playing in many bands as a pianist ranging from rock to soul to R&B. Leah formed her own band, The Help, featuring her original music and they performed all over the Boston area. After her mother passed, she returned to Maine, forming another band that her bass player named "Dear Claudia", knowing how close Leah was with her mom, and after hearing Claudia's jazz recordings. "Dear Claudia" was extremely popular in New England, and also toured in NYC. The Dear Claudia album continues to be played on radio stations globally.
After receiving interest by Showtime for some of her songs, she left her day job on the east coast as a social worker and relocated to Los Angeles with her husband Kevin, a live sound engineer. Since moving to LA, Leah has been performing all over Southern California and has since recorded two original albums. She is also an actress and comic, forming a musical comedy act that performed in comedy clubs and had two successful East Coast tours. Most recently she has refocused her composing skills in the film and tv world, having scored a number of web series, and most recently a feature film, as well as short. And now...she is hoping to be renamed, Leah "Billy Powell" Finkelstein, as she excitedly joins the Systyrs!