Once Andrea turned 10, she became mesmerized by drums-their infinite sound variations, their look, even the smells of the store where her mother rented Andrea’s first kit (back when drum rentals were still a thing). Taking the pragmatist’s approach, she went the academic route and worked her way through high school drumline and jazz band into an undergraduate degree in jazz studies at the The University of North Texas. While studying drumset with Ed Soph, Andrea began working as a cruise ship showband drummer for Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Holland America Cruises.
Post-college, Andrea has had the privilege of playing with Kenny Aronoff at the House of Blues Dallas, opening for the EDM band Cause and Effect, and playing in the house band for Joan Rivers. While in Dallas, she regularly performs with local talents Anton Shaw, The Bad Habits, Ciao Bella, Rhymes for Ridley, Troy Cartwright, and several jazz combos.
Dallas native Andrew Griffith is a product of the prestigious music program at the University of North Texas. His professional gigs, however, started much earlier — in fact, right after graduating from Dallas’ famed Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts. Mr. Griffith has performed with many great local and internationally-known musicians, including Joey DeFrancesco, James Gilyard, Roy Hargrove, David “Fathead” Newman, Sandra Kaye, and Roseanne Vitro. He credits his friend and mentor, the late great saxophonist Marchel Ivery, with helping him develop as a musician and person. Named the Sammons Jazz Artist of the Year in 2004, Mr. Griffith is a “go-to” drummer who balances a busy schedule of performing and teaching.
Bobby Ray Sparks, II, son of Molly and Bobby Ray Sparks, Sr., was born February 1973, in Corsicana, Texas. A child prodigy, he began playing the organ when he was three years old. Bobby has studied music privately with his mother and Mrs. Anna Joyce Whitehead. As a young child, he used his gift of music to please the hearts of all who heard him. He played for many area church choirs, musical workshops, and vocal groups during his early years. His music versatility began in the home where his parents, both educators by profession, were also musicians. His mother steered him in the direction of the music of the church. His father, an avid jazzman and jazz musician, demanded that he become well versed in all kinds of music. He was introduced to the music of jazz giants such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dexter Gordan and Miles Davis at an early age.
Bobby Sparks II graduated from Corsicana High School in 1991. After high school graduation, he moved to the Dallas area (Mesquite TX), to study music at Eastfield College. While residing in Mesquite, he became exposed to many other budding musicians, one of whom was Kirk Franklin. Sparks having been an original member of the Kirk Franklin band served as Kirk’s music director from 1992-2005 traveling all over America and to many foreign countries playing for millions of people.
A versatile musician of drums, a little bass guitar and primarily keyboards, Bobby plays all kinds of music. In addition to playing for Kirk Franklin for 20 years, he has worked with other musical giants such as Prince, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Tower of Power, Marcus Miller, Ray Charles, George Benson, Dave Koz, Lalah Hathaway, Roy Hargrove, Al Jarreau, Les McCann, Rahsaan Patterson, Poogie Bell, Dean Brown, Snarky Puppy, Kirk Whalum, David Sanborn, Nicolas Payton, St. Vincent and the late Wayman Tisdale….. In the Gospel World He has worked with Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, Bishop Paul Morton, CeCe Winans, Donnie McKurklin, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, Joe Pace, Shirley Caesar, and V. Michael McKay among many other well-known Gospel musical personalities.
Bobby has also had the distinguished honor of playing with the Dallas-based Emerald City Band as they entertained the President and our country’s leaders at a Christmas Party that was held in the East Room of the White House.
Bobby provides music for radio and television commercials, including Tyra Banks` Top Model reality television show. He also assisted Kirk Franklin in producing the sound track for the movie, Kingdom Come as well as worked on the soundtrack for the The Prince of Egypt, He is a gifted producer with many projects to his credit including the “NuNation” project by Kirk Franklin for which he received a Grammy certificate as co-producer and another one for the “Hello Fear” record, Also a Grammy for Fred Hammond’s “Free To Worship”record…
When Bobby is not touring he is steadily making music, producing projects and performing locally. On Sundays, he serves as organist for Pathway of Life Church, pastored by Pastor Danny Wegman in Dallas TX. He also plays around DFW Metroplex at upscale clubs and he plays for private parties and exclusive events.
In 2003, Bobby was invited back to Eastfield to present a concert. It was at Eastfield that his jazz improvisational skills improved greatly. Proud of his achievements and major accomplishments, Bobby was given the Key To The City of Corsicana during a `Giving Back` concert held in Corsicana. Even more recently, Bobby had the opportunity to return again to his hometown of Corsicana, Texas and present a concert at the Palace Theatre. The concert received rave reviews for the fine quality of musicianship.
Brannen Temple, specialist in drumset, is one of the most sought after drummers in Texas. He has performed with numerous artists including Mitch Watkins, Kevin Paige, Ron Brown, Carmen Bradford, Sheena Easton, Alejandro Escovedo, Kenny Wheeler, James Cotton, Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson, Chris Duarte, Robben Ford, Ted Nugent, Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, Me’Shell NdegeOcello, Paul Jackson JR., Ernie Watts, Roy Hargrove, Adam Levy, Big John Patton and Leni Stern. His discography is vast, including appearances on ” Anything But Money” by Patrice Rushen, “Peace Beyond Passion” by Me’Shell NdegeOcello and “G3 Live” by Eric Johnson. He has appeared on The Tonight Show, MTV Spring Break, Austin City Limits and Soultrain. Brannen Temple endorses Fibes drums, Sabian Cymbals, Aquarian dumsticks and Rhythm Tech percussion.
Dallas drummer Jamil Byrom was crowned best “undiscovered drummer” at the finals of Guitar Center’s 2005 Drum-Off.
He has held down the drum throne at Friendship West Baptist Church for 14 years. Jamil Byrom was nicknamed Carmel Ice because of his smooth style on the drums never breaking a sweat. Jamil performed his first professional gig with the Youth Workshop Choir of Dallas under the direction of Kirk Franklin.
Rhythm was born in Jamil Byrom. Constantly feeling & hearing rhythms, Jamil was coached by William Richardson, who helped him to develop a high sense of technique and coordination through the appreciation of different cultures and styles. Gospel, jazz, and R&B seem to command Jamils attention even though he has studied all genres receiving a degree in Music Performance from Alcorn State University.
Jamil Byrom has shared the stage with artists such as Roy Hargrove, Kirk Frankln, Kim Burrell, Erykah Badu, Joe McBride, Dave Hollister, LaShawn Pace, Vickie Winnans, Tower of Power, Pieces of Dream, David “Fathead” Newman, Wessell Anderson, Alvin Battiste, Onzy Mathews, N’Damby, Tonya Blunt, The Turtle Creek Choral, and many others.
Joey Carter is active as a jazz vibraphonist, drum set artist, percussionist, jazz pianist, organist, and arranger. He performs regularly as a piano soloist, with his own trio or quintet, Johnny Reno and the Bitchin’ Camaros, The Arts on 5th Avenue Jazz Collective, the Fort Worth Symphony Big Band, and as a recording session musician. Joey Carter teaches music theory, ear training, jazz history, jazz ensemble, jazz improvisation, and private lessons in percussion and jazz piano at Texas Christian University. Mr. Carter received his Master of Music degree in Percussion Performance at Texas Christian University in May of 2000 and a B.M.E. from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1991.
Myles Tate, III is a pianist hailing from the windy city herself; Chicago, IL. With roots in Gospel, Blues, and Soul music, his approach to the craft is simple: Play from the soul and touch all the souls who are listening. Having studied jazz piano at Roosevelt University (Chicago) and Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI) he has been carrying out his plan to affect as many listeners as possible. Myles began his musical journey at 6 years old picking up drumsticks and beginning to play drums at his church. At the age of 12 he moved on to piano and Hammond B-3 organ which was fueled by his desire to play jazz and his desire began to become satisfied when he joined his Jr. high school band. It was as this point that Myles would find himself playing more piano than any of the other instruments he was learning to play. He began to win awards for improvisation throughout Jr. high and his high school career. In 1996 he took first chair piano for jazz at the Illinois Music Educators Association Conference, South Inter-Conference Association Conference, and he took third chair for the Music Educator’s National Conference while winning second place for improvisation at the MENC. He repeated his performance in his senior year in high school except he took first chair piano for jazz at the MENC and got second place for original composition. Moving on to college Myles had the pleasure of studying with Eddie Baker (Roosevelt) and Rick Roe(MSU) and has had the opportunity to play with greats such as: Rodney Whitaker,Wycliffe Gordon, Orbert Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Nicole Mitchell, Corey Wilkes, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Lemmie Battles, Tiaybe, Baritone, Harvey Mason, Monifah, Al Haig, Slum Village, Dwele, Big Daddy Kane and others who have tremendously affected the music industry. And now Myles has stepped out and formed his own group named Myles Tate and The Alliance. Myles has since relocated to Dallas as of 2012 and has been touching his new listeners just as he touched his Chicago listeners. Enjoy the experience of Myles Tate. Myles is also an educator in music committed to sharing the information he has been taught with any student or colleague who is willing to listen.His teaching career has spanned over 15 years having taught from pre-k all the way through college level music. Myles currently teaches band for Music Learning Band of Forney, TX and elementary music for Holy Trinity Catholic School in Dallas Tx. Musicianship is very important in this craft and Myles stresses that in his teaching. His educational philosophy is: ‘It’s not enough to know how to do something; but why you are doing it and being able to explain how you do it.’ ‘Education mixed with raw talent creates excellence in the craft.’-
Grammy-nominated composer Richard DeRosa is currently the Director of Jazz Composition and Arranging at the University of North Texas and the Artistic Director for American Jazz Venues (AJV). Since 2012 he has conducted and arranged for the prestigious WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, and served as the band’s chief conductor from 2014-2016. Since 2001 he was arranged and conducted projects for Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Throughout his career, his compositions and arrangements have encompassed a vast variety of writing styles which have been heard on stages and in venues around the world, on television and in film, on and off Broadway, in videos, audio books and numerous CD recordings. “Neil”, his original work for big band garnered a 2015 Grammy nomination for “Best Instrumental Composition” and is featured on Lab 2015 recorded by the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band. In addition to his commissioned work writing and conducting and his teaching at University of North Texas, DeRosa is a published author and remains active as an adjudicator, clinician, and guest lecturer.
Shaun Martin has performed, created, and collaborated for most of his life, but his own description of his latest release, Seven Summers, is perhaps the best description of his fresh and innovative style: “As I grew over the last seven years, I experienced so much and I wanted to translate that through the music and lyrics.” His natural gift became evident when he started playing drums at the age of four, followed shortly by piano lessons. Despite winning several Grammys® from work with gospel powerhouse Kirk Franklin and jazz fusion phenomenon Snarky Puppy and performing with Yolanda Adams, Timberland, and other well-known artists, Shaun is humble and committed to giving back. He says, “If you give talented people a chance, there’s no stopping them.”