A performer, music and stage director, and voice instructor by profession, Kristen graduated from the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the UNC School of the Arts with a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance – Opera as well as a Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Vocal Performance. Additionally, Kristen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Musical Theatre from Catawba College. She is currently Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre at Western Carolina University, where she teaches private vocal studies to students in the B.F.A. Musical Theatre program and music directs productions. She is currently writing original music for an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. She has been writing poetry since she was a teenager. Her poem, “On Becoming Water”, will be published in Touchstone – the journal of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, later this year.
Kristen lives down a winding road in the Appalachian mountains with her husband, two hound dogs and two goofy cats. Writing her children’s book, Big Lily’s Rent-A-Belly, helped her find her way through the grieving process after losing Lily six years ago. Writing the book, Kristen gave Lily a voice and a way for other people to know the great spirit she carried. Lily proved that love is enough, and that there is a home for everyone. Kristen thanks her husband, Nikolas, who first came up with the idea for a rent-a-belly business. Collaborating with her friend, Jayne Harnett-Hargrove, as illustrator, was an invigorating experience full of introspection and a lot of laughter along the way! Kristen and Jayne are donating one dollar from the sale of each book to Brother Wolf, an animal rescue organization in Asheville, North Carolina, where Kristen adopted many of her own children.
Having grown up in the Christian church as a preacher’s kid and later going through a discernment process for the ministry, by which she was ultimately rejected, Kristen Hedberg was prompted to write her first book, God is Not a Bully: A Not-So-Churchy Memoir. The memoir encompasses the innocence and curiosity we all have about who we are, why the world is, and our part in it—an innocence that gets slowly eaten away by people and institutions who tell us we are less than we should be—and how we can learn to return to that innocence as an adult.