Dana has been a judge since 2015
Dana Lawrence Gillis
Bitter Jester Music Festival Judge
Dana is a performing singer-songwriter, recording artist, and Highland Park, IL native with forty years of experience in music. Starting with classical violin at age two, Dana grew up playing in school orchestras and various bands at Lincoln Elementary, Edgewood, and HPHS, adding piano, percussion, and guitar along the way. Today she is a regular with her guitar on the local Chicagoland scene, playing and booking music at various venues, festivals, and corporate and private events, including The Panda Bar in Highland Park.
Dana also founded tunes2teach.com, a preK-8 tutoring and education company in Highland Park, where she integrates music as one of her teaching methods. In 2013 she released the nationally acclaimed "Scientific Method Rap" on YouTube, which has since gone viral and is used in classrooms across the country.
She recorded her debut album "Easier" in 2001 with fellow Bitter Jester judge and mentor, musician/producer Suede Stout at Darwin Records. The album features local musicians including drummer Matt Walker (Smashing Pumpkins, Morrissey), Bassist Brett Simons (Brian Wilson, Melissa Etheridge, Might Blue Kings), Guitarist Arch Alcantara (Peat Moss), and more. The Chicago Tribune writes, "Dana Lawrence pulls listeners in with a dazzling smile and heartfelt lyrics, driven by blazing riffs on her acoustic guitar."