Success Story


Back to Success Stories
<< Return to Current Success Stories

UST Grad Plays on International Music Tour

2010 Roger Sessions Memorial Composition Award winner, Relix Peņa

In a competitive music world, music students dream of touring internationally.  University of St. Thomas  graduate Michael Whitebread is living that dream.

Whitebread graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing, and again in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in music theory and composition. He recently returned from his second international tour with country singer Kareem Salama, sponsored by the U. S. State Department. They traveled to seven different countries in the Middle East playing for workshops in refugee camps during the day and concerts at night. 

Whitebread said his involvement with the tour was one of happenstance.

“I taught Kareem Salama guitar lessons a few years ago and we became friends,” Whitebread said.   “In 2008, we went to Berlin and London and played some events there.   He remembered me; we hit it off and he called me when he had this last tour.”

The Kareem Salama Tour was designed to bring rising American musical talent, representative of America’s diversity of faith and heritage, to audiences in the Middle East to serve as a bridge between their culture and that of America, the U. S. State Department website explained.

“Kareem is an American-Egyptian Muslim,” Whitebread said.  “We traveled around and he would sing country songs in English and in Arabic.”

On this tour, Whitebread was one of Salama’s backup guitarists. Whitebread has future plans for more international tours. A trip to Lebanon in the coming months is in the works. 

In addition to his recent tours, Whitebread has also made a name for himself in the Houston music community.   The Burdener, an album produced by Whitebread for his friend and fellow UST alumnus Craig Kinsey, was named by the Houston Chronicle one of the “Best 12 Texas Albums This Year.”  He also teaches guitar at the Christ United Methodist Fine Arts Academy in Sugar Land and plays with various groups around the city.

Whitebread is returning to UST once again this semester as a guitar teacher for the UST Music Preparatory School.  He expressed excitement about returning to his alma mater and working with his former professor, Paul Krystofiak, who directs the preparatory school for young musicians.

The Music Preparatory School is a community outreach that offers private instruction to pre-college music students and non-traditional hobbyists.  Interested students may contact the director, Paul Krystofiak, for more information at 713-525-3566 or by email at 

“I am delighted that Mike has joined the faculty as a guitar instructor,” Krystofiak said. “It is wonderful he is once again sharing his talents.  Mike deserves all the opportunities that have come his way.  He is a remarkable ambassador for the university.”

Whitebread said he finds teaching to be “wonderfully rewarding.”  He enjoys, “encouraging each student’s growth and confidence while having a great time sharing music.”

Whitebread ‘s UST education has given him the flexibility to work in both the business sector and the music industry.

“I worked in advertising for a couple years and I just didn’t really like it, so I came back for my music degree,” Whitebread said.  “I studied guitar for about five years; I took a lot of private lessons and ensembles while I was doing my marketing degree and I should have known to do music instead of marketing.   Like a classic college student, I tried lots of things.”

Whitebread advises students to, “just do what you love and do what you enjoy.  If you stay at it long enough, you’ll find the right path.”