ERIC ESSIX is celebrating three milestones on December 29, 2018 in Birmingham, AL; his 59th birthday, the 30th anniversary of his very first concert as a solo recording artist AND the release of his 25th album.
Over the past three decades, there have been many incredible artists that have either played in Eric's touring ensembles, recorded with him in the studio or hired him for the guitar spot in their own bands. This concert will bring to the stage a few of those artists for one night to perform music from his extensive catalog, reunite band members from years past and celebrate the life and career of one of Birmingham's favorite sons on his home turf at the fabulous Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.
Here's a list of the artists currently confirmed to appear:
Alex Bugnon has been one of the most popular pianists on the contemporary jazz scene for the past three decades. In addition to his stellar career as a renowned jazz musician, composer and bandleader, Alex has also performed with Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson, Patti Austin, James Ingram and Glenn Jones to name a few.
Papa J aka Joey Sommerville’s musical essence lies in the Baptist church. “When I was a teenager, I would judge the caliber of my playing by the number of people in the congregation who ‘got happy.’ If you aren’t touching the listener’s soul, then you aren’t playing real music. Soul communication is the key.” Fast forward to today, when as the band leader of Papa J Sez, he crafts a unique mélange of new millennium jazz with funk, gospel and blues influences with infectious pop sensibilities. It’s this intoxicating brew coupled with his humor, warmth and showmanship that drives crowds crazy, creating a flourishing, almost cult-like following. And rightly so.
In addition to a prolific touring and recording career, Tracy Hamlin has performed alongside numerous music legends including Carlos Santana, Marcus Miller, Jonathan Butler, Esperanza Spalding and Chaka Khan, to name
a few. She toured internationally as the lead vocalist with Jazz recording group, Pieces of a Dream and was lead background vocalist for Disco Queen, Gloria Gaynor. Tracy was also credited as vocal arranger on Gloria’s last recording project.
She is currently a Trustee of the Baltimore Grammy Chapter and founder/producer of the SWEET Jazz Festival!
SEAN MICHAEL RAY
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Sean was born with music running through his veins. His mother is a holiness church organist and his father was a renowned bass guitarist.
Inspired by Earth, Wind and Fire's bassist, Verdine White, Sean has traveled the world performing with such artists as Maxwell, John Waite, Gerald Albright, Alex Bugnon, Dionne Farris, Norman Brown, Joey Sommerville, Bob Baldwin and Sheila E.
Also check out Sean's work on First Wives Club, Ghost of Mississippi, B5 (Hanna Montana Soundtrack - "Shining Star"), Dionne Farris - "Truth About Cats and Dogs", Jonathan Butler and Juanita Bynum - "Gospel Goes Classical", and John Waite - The Hard Way - "Downtown Journey of a Heart".