Susan Wright Mogilka

Susan Wright Mogilka has many years of experience performing music, dancing, and teaching. She is currently on the faculty of the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University Of Central Oklahoma, ACM@UCO, located in Bricktown (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), helping to develop the vocal performance, piano performance, songwriting, and aural (ear training) skills of up-and-coming music professionals.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma, and released an all-original Dance CD, entitled “St. Vitus’ Dance Hall”, in September 2008, with her writing partner, Chris Babcock. The CD is geared to all Ballroom dance styles, some Salsa, and some line dancing styles. It is a true 52 minutes of various dance grooves designed to keep the dancer on their feet. Teaching jazz, tap, ballet, and ballroom since the 1970’s has given Susan an interesting perspective for writing music for dancers.

Currently the lead singer for the locally famous “Al Good Orchestra“, Susan has also performed with KC and the Sunshine Band, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, country artists Sammy Kershaw and Jodi Miller, and has opened for Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Barbara Fairchild, and Billy Dean. She has also had the privilege of performing for Astronaut Gene Cernan, actors Julia Roberts, Hugh O’Brien, and Jason Patrick, and football legend Barry Switzer, among others.

Whether sharing her life experience with students, or teaching “one on one”, her tremendous sense of humor and philosophy of life centered on music is sure to please. Having performed with many groups, including “Common Ground”, “Maya“, “Sailor“, “Souled Out”, “Hart and Soul”, and “Touch of Class” (to name only a few), she is comfortable performing on stage. And her years with the OPUBCO State Fair Shows and Integris Road Shows have provided many opportunities to learn the business of music.

Susan’s teaching experience includes two years in West Germany at Hahn Air Force Base in which she was a judge for the “Tops in Blue” finalists, nine years teaching at Trinity School, and many years of private voice, piano, and flute lessons. Having been a drama coach in addition to her teaching career, Susan wrote the musical play, “Power Within”, which was performed in Snowmass, Colorado as well as in OKC.

Susan is currently the Voice and Piano Coach at Norman Music Institute, and has enjoyed many directorships, as in the production of “Hot and Cole” at UCO, which featured Lauren Nelson, who the next year won the title of “Miss America“.

Susan is the mother of three wonderful kids (her greatest joy in life) and is married to Henry Mogilka. They live in Edmond, Oklahoma.

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Chris Babcock

Chris Babcock grew up in Oklahoma City in a family passionate about music.  Chris has memories of his mother, an accomplished classical pianist, practicing for hours while he played around the house and especially when laying down for a nap.  His father, though not actually a musician, was an avid fan of folk and big band music so there were always records being played when the piano wasn’t.  His big sister was passionate about singing and strumming along (on an old gut string guitar) with the latest Top 40 radio hits.

When Chris turned 8 years old (in 1963) he one day told his mother that he’d like to play the violin.  In no time she had him signed up for lessons with influential folk fiddler and musicologist Marion Thede and a year later with the very rigorous and well respected classical violin teacher Herbert Bagwell.  After 3 years of violin, Chris was overtaken by the desire to play Top 40 music and talked his parents into trading in his violin for a set of drums.  He fell in with a band who practiced every other day for three hours after school then played any gig they could muster up…school dances, church functions, the Optimist Club, roller rinks…anywhere anyone would have them.  That went strong for a couple of years when Chris developed an obsession for the guitar…then the bass guitar….then the piano….then song writing…then composition.  By the time Chris was a junior in high school he knew he wanted to make a go at music for a living with composing music as his main focus.

Chris entered the University of Oklahoma in 1973 as a music composition major.  There he studied music composition with the composer-in-residence Michael Hennagin and music theory with Professor Gail DeStwolinski, both highly respected in classical music circles.  Chris also performed in the OU jazz band and played various guitar gigs (from duos to big bands).  This lasted about halfway through Chris’ junior year when he decided he wasn’t meant for the classical world and left OU to play in local bands.  After five years of playing night clubs six nights per week, Chris gave up the club scene and worked various day jobs until finally making it through an engineering degree in 1988.  He has been employed as an engineer since.

Chris always kept active in music, even through making the career change to engineering.  In fact, throughout engineering school, playing music with popular Oklahoma City area bands The Tim Sullivan Band and Harvey and the Wallbangers not only helped support the family but provided emotional relief from being tied to engineering books most waking moments.  When Chris turned 43, ten years into his career as an engineer, he decided he had been long enough away from his first musical love, so he started playing the violin again.  When Chris turned 53, his wife decided she had heard enough of how Chris would love to play the upright bass someday and decided to surprise him with one the next Christmas.  He now makes it a point to practice the violin and bass before work every morning.  There is nothing he enjoys waking up to more.

Chris has played dance music for 42 years in and around the Oklahoma City area in such bands as MacArthur West, The Brad Davis Revue, Sierra, The Tim Sullivan Band, Harvey and the Wallbangers, and Curbfeelers.  He also has a long history as a substitute player in active dance bands such as Smiling Vic and the Soul Monkeys, The Blue Cats, Sailor, and many others.  Along the way Chris had the pleasure of opening up for the Jackson Five (no kidding…OKC in late 1969 at an NAACP convention), country singers Charlie McClain and Mickey Gilley, 50’s sensations The Marvelettes, and gospel rocker Randy Mathews.  In ’79 and ‘80, during a six night gig at what was then the Holiday Inn in Norman (I-35 and Main St,), Chris had the pleasure of hanging out and jamming with many of the sidemen from acts who would stay over a night after playing the Lloyd Noble Center: Chrystal Gayle’s band, BB King and Bobby Blue Bland’s rhythm sections, Willie Nelson’s band, Jimmy Buffett’s band, players from the Rossington-Collins Band, and many others.  One of Chris’s most cherished memories was the night he and Leonard Gill (BB King’s rhythm guitar player and about Chris’s age) both received a 2 hour guitar lesson from legendary blues guitarist Wayne Bennett who was playing for Bobby Blue Bland on that famous BB King/Bobby Blue Bland tour.  This left a lasting impression of how a great player who worked his way up to the top of a very rough and competitive business could have such a humble spirit and so unselfishly share his knowledge with other players.    

From 2005 through 2007, Chris teamed with friend and gigging partner Susan Wright-Mogilka to develop an all-original ballroom dance album titled St. Vitus’ Dance Hall.  After all the years of performing other artists’ dance music it is a joy for Chris and Susan to have recorded and to continue to perform their original music for ballroom dancers.

Chris lives in Norman, OK and is married to a highly accomplished (and very busy) classical pianist, Susan Babcock. They have two children, (both musical, of course) and a grandchild.