When Grammy-nominated Mack Avenue recording artist, composer, and bandleader Tia Fuller picks up her saxophone, something amazing happens. Blending technical brilliance, melodic creativity, and the performing precision drawn from both her academic and stage experience, Fuller is a force to be reckoned with in the worlds of jazz, pop, R&B, and more. Currently, Fuller balances the worlds of performance and education, fulfilling a demanding schedule as both a busy touring and recording artist and a full-time professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Fuller’s resume makes her uniquely qualified for these roles. The Denver, Colorado native graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, and summa cum laude with a Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Already established as a leading jazz musician, Fuller was selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with Grammy-winning pop star Beyoncé. Performing as part of the I AM … Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé Experience World Tour on stages across the globe, Fuller also became a featured soloist on the Beyoncé Experience DVD (Me, Myself and I), I AM Yours I DVD (Wynn Theatre) and also appeared on number of major television shows, including Today Show, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, BET Awards, American Music Awards, Grammy Awards and as a featured soloist with Beyoncé for President Obama at the White House.
She has also performed with such luminaries as the Ralph Peterson Septet, Rufus Reid Quintet, Wycliff Gordan Septet, T.S. Monk Sextet, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Chaka Khan, Ledisi, Kelly Rowland, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, Patti LaBelle, Sheila E, Valerie Simpson, Dionne Warwick, Janelle Monáe, Patrice Rushen, Erykah Badu, and the late Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, and Geri Allen.
Fuller has also expanded her media presence as a model and essayist. In early 2019, she appeared in a cutting-edge “Rhythm in Blues” advertising campaign for national women’s retailer J.Jill. Her life-size image has been featured in more than 270 J.Jill display windows nationwide. In addition, Fuller will be featured in an exclusive Vanity Fair magazine shoot, celebrating women in jazz. Furthermore, Fuller has shared her experiences as a performer, educator, and first-time Grammy nominee as a female jazz musician via a timely opinion piece, on sexism in jazz for NBCNews.com, a feature story in the Associated Press and live interviews on such outlets as TV One’s Sister Circle. The dynamic saxophonist has also graced the cover of Downbeat Magazine, JazzTimes Magazine, Saxophone Today, Jazzed, and Jazz Education Journal.
As a Professor at Berklee College of Music, Fuller shares her expertise with more than 70 students per week. She leads the college’s Rainbow Big Band and All-Stars, the Esperanza Ensemble, repertoire class, jazz improvisation, two jazz combos, and the Christian McBride Ensemble. In addition, she produces and directs groundbreaking large production ensembles focusing on the works of major pop innovators Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, and Micki Miller. Innovated by Fuller to provide more contemporary, real-world experiences for students, these ensembles are cross-collaborations with other college departments and duplicate an “A-list” tour production incorporating musicians, choreography, strings, dancers, video, and lighting.
As an artist, performer, and teacher, Fuller feels that she is fulfilling her purpose here on this earth, which is to “serve as a light for others.”
Born in Denver, Colorado, Shamie Royston is, according to JazzTimes, “a vigorous, versatile pianist.” She grew up alongside her sister, the award-winning Tia Fuller, in a musical and academically-minded household. The daughters of two public school teachers, the sisters were introduced to jazz at a young age, and eventually joined their parents in the family band. As a teenager, Royston attended the Telluride Jazz Camp, and the University of Denver, mentoring with trumpeter Ron Miles with whom she formed a band and later recorded with drummer Ginger Baker (of Cream). Royston appears on two of Tia Fuller’s albums, Decisive Steps and Angelic Warrior, and has released two albums as a leader. Kevin Whitehead, in reviewing her album Beautiful Liar on Fresh Air, claims that her music is “straight-ahead, tuneful, hard-swinging brand of jazz that’s always in style” and that her “composing really stamps her music.” DownBeat Magazine states that her music is “mainstream post-bop with thoughtful interaction and a deep sense of poise. It swings hard and breathes easy.” Royston has established herself as an in-demand performer and educator in the New York/New Jersey area. Aside from leading her own ensembles, she continues to work with Tia Fuller and Ron Miles and has appeared with Christian McBride, Sean Jones, Lonnie Plaxico, Ralph Peterson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Allison Miler and many others.