A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Makena James serves as organist at Tryon Presbyterian Church and accompanist for the Carolina Community Chorus and is the youngest member of the Blue Ridge Ringers. She currently studies with Dr. Brennan Szafron. Previous positions include organist at Fairfield Mountains Chapel in Lake Lure, NC and interim organist at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Edneyville, NC. She is in demand as a recitalist and has performed around the east coast, in addition to maintaining a Youtube channel, where she performs musical arrangements for piano, organ, and handbells.
Makena won first prize in the American Guild of Organists (AGO) Buffalo Chapter Organ Competition in 2021 and was a finalist in the Northeast Regional Chapter Competition in the same year. She holds service playing and colleague certifications from the AGO and is a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Society.
Makena received her bachelor’s degree Magna Cum Laude in organ performance at Houghton College. While there, she was the first undergraduate student to be featured in Houghton’s annual homecoming concert in 2020.
Besides music, Makena enjoys reading, writing, and studying cybersecurity.
You can find Makena’s 2023 Spring Music Competition organ performance here.
You can find Makena’s 2023 20th Century Music Competition organ performance here.