DEREK MCKEITH

Head Of West Coast Operations,


From his auspicious recording debut at the age of 14 singing on Quincy Jones' seven-time Grammy Award winning Back On The Block CD which was named the 1990 Album of the Year, to his critically acclaimed solo career and performing around the world as a musical ambassador for the TGF, Derek McKeith has distinguished himself as a unique talent encompassing rock, blues, R&B, hip-hop and pop music into his own distinctive style.

Self taught on guitar, bass, piano and drums, McKeith’s two solo CDs, Something Strange and The Signature on his own Electric Life Records label have garnered radio airplay from Los Angeles to Australia. "Can't Get Enough" from The Signature became a number one song on BET. His music was also featured on the Showtime TV series "Soul Food" and the soundtrack of the "Son of the Mask" along with songs by Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Paul Anka, and Chubby Checker.

His enthralling stage performances draw comparisons to Michael Jackson, Prince, and Lenny Kravitz, and as the New York Amsterdam News wrote, "His sizzling guitar playing conjured up memories of a young Jimi Hendrix."

McKeith has been acclaimed for performances at some of America’s most popular concert venues including the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and B.B. King Blues Club in New York City. He's also performed on television on "The Today Show." As a last minute replacement for Usher on "Steve Harvey's Big Time" TV show, McKeith wowed music aficionado Harvey who lavished him with praise following his performance of "Headlines" from The Signature. In 2006 he captured the attention of entertainment industry elite when a VIP audience including Prince, Dr. Dre, and Magic Johnson was thoroughly impressed with hischarismatic opening set at The Knitting Factory in LA.

In addition to his solo Work, McKeith took pride in serving as the Director of West Coast Programs of the TGF, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to supporting and encouraging music education programs for young people across the country. Through the foundation he has conducted music workshops with guests including Grammy Award winner Swizz Beatz and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels from Run-D.M.C., and donated hundreds of instruments in Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta and other cities. On a USO tour in Germany in May 2013, McKeith entertained military students and American troops. It was an unforgettable experience as a 23 year-old serviceman gave him a life changing compliment. "He was missing limbs from a bombing in Afghanistan, and he thanked me,” remembers McKeith. “I was the one who was thankful. Hearing his words, it changed my perspective. I know now I don’t just play music for myself. I appreciate the power of music.”

Bringing joy to wounded soldiers and presenting the gift of music to youth has empowered McKeith. “I love being able to donate instruments to kids and watch their faces light up. You can see their hunger for music. They are so grateful." 

McKeith is extremely grateful to have launched his career recording with Quincy Jones. He sang background and appeared in the video for Tevin Campbell's single "Tomorrow" produced by Jones on Back On The Block. The classic CD featured legendary artists Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick, George Benson and Barry White. "It was an amazing experience working with Quincy Jones," says McKeith, "and it molded me into being a professional."

Following his dramatic introduction into the music business, McKeith worked with several R&B artists including Sisqo from Dru Hill, Avant, Jon B., and Tamar Braxton. He developed his ability to mesmerize audiences early in his career, performing on "The Tonight Show," "The Soul Train Music Awards," and "The Arsenio Hall Show.” "Being on the Soul Train Music Awards as a background singer was amazing and I was inspired to do my own music."

Growing up as the child of actress Sheila Frazier (star of the classic "Super Fly") and William Morris talent agent Sam McKeith (whose clients included Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, The Jackson Five, and Ray Charles), McKeith was immediately immersed into the entertainment world. He fell in love with drums, and it was mother's friend Bill Cosby who taught him how to play.

McKeith's extended family also includes two more giants of entertainment, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. "Through my father I met Stevie and Michael," he says. "I would hang out with Stevie at his Wonderland recording studios in LA. I also went to pool parties at the Jacksons' house. I was regularly around Michael during the Thriller days. People compare me to Prince but I feel I am musically more like Michael because his music involved every genre. Pop encompasses everything."

McKeith has recorded dozens of new songs and more recently released an EP in the fall of 2014 entitled 'The Introduction @Derek McKeith', due to be followed by a full CD entitled Woman in the fall of 2015. "I want to show that my music is more expansive than just rock," he comments. "I get typecast as a rocker but I move from hip-hop, to R&B, to pop, to rock, and jazz and blues and I do it effortlessly, authentic and genuine. It is a musical kaleidoscope."

After 24 years in music and acting, McKeith is committed to utilizing his talent to continue a legacy of unity. "The great music festivals like Woodstock and Monterey Pop featured all music genres, and there were no issues of race," he says. "As I travel I see people are often separated by music. Like those festivals, I want my music to bring people together."

http://www.derekmckeith.com

Stereo H aka Hashim BING VP Of Hip Hop Events & Programming Hashim Bing, professionally known as Stereo H, was born and raised in the Bronx. At the age of 14, he moved to New Jersey and it was during this time that he was exposed to the art of making music by a DJ friend.  Determined to rock the mic himself; (H.) would sneak into the DJ’s studio (when he wasn’t there) to use the equipment. Taking that risk paid off, because now years later he no longer has to sneak into studios.   His debut album "Revenge & $$$$$" came out after a series of appearances on the underground jewel 2010_AD from his partner Alias DUNDEE & later from his group project with DUNDEE, BDS: BoonDox Saints. Bing is passionate about his vocals. He loves to write lyrics, and even dabbles in making beats. However, he believes in the power of “feeding off of others energy” and doesn’t mind taking advice and direction.  With this attitude, it is not hard to understand why (H.) says he has been inspired by everyone, whether he thought they were great artists or not.  One experience that stands out in particular is working with Rawkus Records & in particular Shabbam Sahdeeq (an underground rapper) out of Brooklyn, who helped launch the careers of Eminem & Pharoah Monch (solo) with his classic underground banger "5 Star Generals".  Touring & traveling with emcees of such high caliber inspired H.BING to take control of his career. In 2001, he was introduced to NJ REY (CEO of DIOS Music / BulLion Ent.) by Alias DUNDEE, who later released the BDS: BoonDox Saints project under the DIOS Music / Sumthing distribution label. His working relationship with REY lead to the underground success of his "Revenge & $$$$$" album and eventually the commercial releases of the BDS "Saints Row" album, "Saints Row II (The Remixes)" & most recently his 1st commercial solo release "Newtie Ross' Grandson" (an album dedicated to his recently deceased grandmother).   "Hashim aka Stereo H is not afraid to be creative or vulnerable. I've witnessed his growth and have seen him expand his range. He has truly developed into a competitive solo artist & writer. I honestly believe that we have only seen a fraction of what he's capable of doing and that there's much more to come," says NJ REY.  By going solo, (H.) feels he holds his future in his own hands and that this was the best decision he has ever made regarding his career. (H.) has blossomed into an effortlessly creative emcee and lyricist. He describes his style as just “Stereo H,” which prevents him from falling into any category.  He appeals to a large audience, having performed worldwide, including places such as Amsterdam, London, and Germany. In addition, to his charitable work with the popular organization Traveling Guitar in which he performs for kids in underprivileged schools and helps to keep their music programs intact.   After getting the nod from such greats as Ralph McDaniels & Red Alert (who appears on his single "Yeeeeeah!"), (H.) prides himself on his great range and is excited to share it with his fans. From hardcore beats that you might want on your iPod when you’re at the gym to R&B and Hip Hop ballads that you’ll pump in your whip... Stereo H definitely has something that will keep you nodding your head and hitting repeat.   One of his favorites is “Thank GOD” a song featuring Multi-Grammy Nominated Neo-Soul Giant Maysa Leak.  You can find it on his new album: “Uncrowned KING” (available only on itunes and stereoh.squarespace.com).  

Stereo H aka Hashim BING

VP Of Hip Hop Events & Programming

Hashim Bing, professionally known as Stereo H, was born and raised in the Bronx. At the age of 14, he moved to New Jersey and it was during this time that he was exposed to the art of making music by a DJ friend. 

Determined to rock the mic himself; (H.) would sneak into the DJ’s studio (when he wasn’t there) to use the equipment. Taking that risk paid off, because now years later he no longer has to sneak into studios.  

His debut album "Revenge & $$$$$" came out after a series of appearances on the underground jewel 2010_AD from his partner Alias DUNDEE & later from his group project with DUNDEE, BDS: BoonDox Saints.

Bing is passionate about his vocals. He loves to write lyrics, and even dabbles in making beats. However, he believes in the power of “feeding off of others energy” and doesn’t mind taking advice and direction.  With this attitude, it is not hard to understand why (H.) says he has been inspired by everyone, whether he thought they were great artists or not. 

One experience that stands out in particular is working with Rawkus Records & in particular Shabbam Sahdeeq (an underground rapper) out of Brooklyn, who helped launch the careers of Eminem & Pharoah Monch (solo) with his classic underground banger "5 Star Generals".  Touring & traveling with emcees of such high caliber inspired H.BING to take control of his career.

In 2001, he was introduced to NJ REY (CEO of DIOS Music / BulLion Ent.) by Alias DUNDEE, who later released the BDS: BoonDox Saints project under the DIOS Music / Sumthing distribution label. His working relationship with REY lead to the underground success of his "Revenge & $$$$$" album and eventually the commercial releases of the BDS "Saints Row" album, "Saints Row II (The Remixes)" & most recently his 1st commercial solo release "Newtie Ross' Grandson" (an album dedicated to his recently deceased grandmother).  

"Hashim aka Stereo H is not afraid to be creative or vulnerable. I've witnessed his growth and have seen him expand his range. He has truly developed into a competitive solo artist & writer. I honestly believe that we have only seen a fraction of what he's capable of doing and that there's much more to come," says NJ REY. 

By going solo, (H.) feels he holds his future in his own hands and that this was the best decision he has ever made regarding his career.

(H.) has blossomed into an effortlessly creative emcee and lyricist. He describes his style as just “Stereo H,” which prevents him from falling into any category. 

He appeals to a large audience, having performed worldwide, including places such as Amsterdam, London, and Germany. In addition, to his charitable work with the popular organization Traveling Guitar in which he performs for kids in underprivileged schools and helps to keep their music programs intact.

 

After getting the nod from such greats as Ralph McDaniels & Red Alert (who appears on his single "Yeeeeeah!"), (H.) prides himself on his great range and is excited to share it with his fans. From hardcore beats that you might want on your iPod when you’re at the gym to R&B and Hip Hop ballads that you’ll pump in your whip...

Stereo H definitely has something that will keep you nodding your head and hitting repeat.

 

One of his favorites is “Thank GOD” a song featuring Multi-Grammy Nominated Neo-Soul Giant Maysa Leak.  You can find it on his new album: “Uncrowned KING” (available only on itunes and stereoh.squarespace.com).  

Kirsten Thein TBF Contributor / Performer When blues diva Ida Cox sang “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues” in 1924, she defiantly stated the obvious while providing the template for the hellions who followed, from Memphis Minnie and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Janis Joplin. Now, fiery blues and R&B singer/guitarist Kirsten Thien blazes on the scene and stakes her claim as a contemporary wild woman while putting a decidedly modern spin on the description. Thien was born on an Army base in Berlin, Germany, moving with her family to Maine soon after. Kirsten developed her talent from a young age with the music of Linda Ronstadt and singing in church in the “Northern Baptist” style. But her music was transformed with the discovery of Aretha Franklin, traditional New Orleans jazz and the classic women blues singers of the 1920s while attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The thrill of performing in public compelled her to abandon the pursuit of a lucrative career in banking and investment for a creative one in singing and songwriting. Settling in New York City and releasing her debut She Really Is, Kirsten embarked on extensive touring in the US and Ireland.  Working solo or with her amazingly tight and talented longtime band, honed by grueling one-nighters on the road and serious woodshedding at her Harlem home, Kirsten has become a formidable performer and songwriter.  On the merits of her sophomore release You’ve Got Me on Screen Door Records, Thien won the Abe Olman Award for Excellence in Songwriting in 2009 (previous winners include John Legend and Edie Carey). Delicious (Screen Door), her latest release, finds Thien alternately ripping and seducing her way through an eleven-song set. Producer Erik Boyd (bass) masterfully blends the foundation of the core road band consisting of David Patterson (guitar), Johnny Pisano (bass) and Dylan Wissing (drums), together with NYC session cats Steve Holley (drums), Tommy Mandel (keyboard and Hammond organ), Kent Smith (trumpet), Andy Snitzer (saxophone) and Mike Freeman (vibraphone). Adding to the mix are veteran blues heavyweights Arthur Neilson (guitar), Billy Gibson (harmonica) and Hubert Sumlin (guitar). The return of Grammy-nominated recording and mixing engineer Dan Myers rounds out the team.

Kirsten Thein

TBF Contributor / Performer

When blues diva Ida Cox sang “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues” in 1924, she defiantly stated the obvious while providing the template for the hellions who followed, from Memphis Minnie and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Janis Joplin. Now, fiery blues and R&B singer/guitarist Kirsten Thien blazes on the scene and stakes her claim as a contemporary wild woman while putting a decidedly modern spin on the description.

Thien was born on an Army base in Berlin, Germany, moving with her family to Maine soon after. Kirsten developed her talent from a young age with the music of Linda Ronstadt and singing in church in the “Northern Baptist” style. But her music was transformed with the discovery of Aretha Franklin, traditional New Orleans jazz and the classic women blues singers of the 1920s while attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The thrill of performing in public compelled her to abandon the pursuit of a lucrative career in banking and investment for a creative one in singing and songwriting.

Settling in New York City and releasing her debut She Really Is, Kirsten embarked on extensive touring in the US and Ireland.  Working solo or with her amazingly tight and talented longtime band, honed by grueling one-nighters on the road and serious woodshedding at her Harlem home, Kirsten has become a formidable performer and songwriter.  On the merits of her sophomore release You’ve Got Me on Screen Door Records, Thien won the Abe Olman Award for Excellence in Songwriting in 2009 (previous winners include John Legend and Edie Carey).

Delicious (Screen Door), her latest release, finds Thien alternately ripping and seducing her way through an eleven-song set. Producer Erik Boyd (bass) masterfully blends the foundation of the core road band consisting of David Patterson (guitar), Johnny Pisano (bass) and Dylan Wissing (drums), together with NYC session cats Steve Holley (drums), Tommy Mandel (keyboard and Hammond organ), Kent Smith (trumpet), Andy Snitzer (saxophone) and Mike Freeman (vibraphone). Adding to the mix are veteran blues heavyweights Arthur Neilson (guitar), Billy Gibson (harmonica) and Hubert Sumlin (guitar). The return of Grammy-nominated recording and mixing engineer Dan Myers rounds out the team.

Van Taylor Executive Director Van Taylor has entertained all over the world at various Resorts and Embassies for over 30 years. He is a songwriter, and owner of Van Taylor Production music publishing company, and TM International an Internet music distributor company. Van is an artist developer, concert promoter and event coordinator. Van is the bandleader of the internationally known R&B/Jazz band “Taylor Made Jazz”. They have three CDs on the market produced by Van Taylor. Van also owns the group VTP, “Van Taylor Project”, a Jazz-fusion presentation— using Funk, Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Blues and Reggae. In 2008 Van Taylor and the band celebrated it 21st anniversary by donating proceeds to National inner city youth opportunies and student against violence education. In 2009 Van Taylor organized and produced “Concert From The Heart” the 1st cross genre concert bringing together classical, jazz rhythm and blues musicians to benefit the Food bank of Western New York, and the Buffalo City Mission. The feature the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Taylor Made Jazz Concert Band, The Legendary Singer Lance Diamond, the Old School B Boys, The Mark Mazur Big little Band. Over the course of 30 years Van has helped educate hundreds of musicians, and thousands of children with musical workshops, and has provided shows for over a hundred thousand members of our U.S. troops, their families and our allies by lifting their spirits and morale with musical performances. Van has produced several successful artists, and many of his music students have opened their own businesses with their own bands, creating hundreds of jobs and providing uplifting entertainment for our service men and women.

Van Taylor

Executive Director

Van Taylor has entertained all over the world at various Resorts and Embassies for over 30 years. He is a songwriter, and owner of Van Taylor Production music publishing company, and TM International an Internet music distributor company. Van is an artist developer, concert promoter and event coordinator. Van is the bandleader of the internationally known R&B/Jazz band “Taylor Made Jazz”. They have three CDs on the market produced by Van Taylor. Van also owns the group VTP, “Van Taylor Project”, a Jazz-fusion presentation— using Funk, Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Blues and Reggae. In 2008 Van Taylor and the band celebrated it 21st anniversary by donating proceeds to National inner city youth opportunies and student against violence education. In 2009 Van Taylor organized and produced “Concert From The Heart” the 1st cross genre concert bringing together classical, jazz rhythm and blues musicians to benefit the Food bank of Western New York, and the Buffalo City Mission. The feature the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Taylor Made Jazz Concert Band, The Legendary Singer Lance Diamond, the Old School B Boys, The Mark Mazur Big little Band. Over the course of 30 years Van has helped educate hundreds of musicians, and thousands of children with musical workshops, and has provided shows for over a hundred thousand members of our U.S. troops, their families and our allies by lifting their spirits and morale with musical performances. Van has produced several successful artists, and many of his music students have opened their own businesses with their own bands, creating hundreds of jobs and providing uplifting entertainment for our service men and women.

Lou Volpe Performer / Contributor

Lou Volpe

Performer / Contributor

Accomplished guitarist, Lou Volpe, has released his first Standard album of his career “Remembering Ol’ Blue Eyes”, (songs of Sinatra). Receiving rave reviews, it combines influences of jazz, bossa nova, blues and swing into his legendary unique sound.

A native New Yorker, Lou Volpe is a standard not only on the New York music scene, but also recognized internationally as a master of the guitar. His artistry is combined with elegance, fire and soul coupled with a seductive, lyrical sound. Volpe’s empathetic virtuosity has allowed him to work in a wide variety of musical contexts while developing a unique approach to the guitar – a warm and lyric romanticism that illuminates the worlds of Jazz, R&B and Adult Contemporary. Having a past resume of performance and recording credits with diverse artists such as Peggy Lee, Chaka Khan, Bo Diddley, David “Fathead” Newman, Chet Baker, Liza Minnelli, Lionel Hampton, Roberta Flack, Phoebe Snow, The Manhattan Transfer and numerous others; touring extensively with Bette Midler, Judy Collins and the legendary Herbie Mann (for whom he composed, arranged and co-produced) has recognized his talent as a sought-after performer either solo or with his group. Interesting mentions: A performance with Herbie Hancock at Lincoln Center; A solo performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival; Televised concerts in NYC at the John Birks Gillespie Theater (for Jazz), as well as a presentation by The Apollo Theater, NYC, for recognition of his performances in Harlem, “The Jazz Capital” of NYC. His tours have included the U.S, Europe, Africa and Japan.

Respected by his peers and fans, Lou Volpe’s previous CDs “Can You Hear That?”, “Lou Volpe Undercovers”, and “Hear and Now” have been well received throughout the world.

Melissa Kate Miller Dir., Art & Education  Melissa Kate is the owner of Melissa Kate Productions, a music and theater production & publishing company. She works as a voice and stage actress, teaching artist, and vocalist in the Buffalo/Niagara region of New York State, leading on vocals with the 18 piece George Scott Big Band, Taylor Made Jazz, and her own band, The Melissa Kate Project, and traveling overseas in support of our Armed Forces in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Pacific and European territories. Melissa is a respected advocate for the arts as necessary part of children’s well being and educational growth. Currently Melissa is a teaching artist with Young Audience of Western New York , Director of Volunteer services for Summit Central and Summit Academy, Senior Vice President Arts and Education with Van Taylor Productions Inc and Music on The FrontLines

Melissa Kate Miller

Dir., Art & Education 

Melissa Kate is the owner of Melissa Kate Productions, a music and theater production & publishing company. She works as a voice and stage actress, teaching artist, and vocalist in the Buffalo/Niagara region of New York State, leading on vocals with the 18 piece George Scott Big Band, Taylor Made Jazz, and her own band, The Melissa Kate Project, and traveling overseas in support of our Armed Forces in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Pacific and European territories. Melissa is a respected advocate for the arts as necessary part of children’s well being and educational growth. Currently Melissa is a teaching artist with Young Audience of Western New York , Director of Volunteer services for Summit Central and Summit Academy, Senior Vice President Arts and Education with Van Taylor Productions Inc and Music on The FrontLines

DUKE JONES Performer, contributor Trumpeter Albert Jones is affectionately known to all friends and followers as “Duke”. A nickname is acquired from his favorite aunt, because of his love of music at an early age. A native of New York City via White Plains. Duke began playing trumpet at the age of nine. In elementary school and through White Plains High School, Duke played and formed a band with The Lewis Brothers and Sharon Bryant. The group, which ultimately became the popular R&B / Pop success “Atlantic Starr”, recorded their first two albums, “Radiant”(1980) and “Brillance” (1982), both featuring Duke. This led to the recording of Duke’s debut solo album for CTI Records entitled “Thunder Island”....  read more Trumpeter Albert Jones is affectionately known to all friends and followers as “Duke”. A nickname is acquired from his favorite aunt, because of his love of music at an early age. A native of New York City via White Plains. Duke began playing trumpet at the age of nine. In elementary school and through White Plains High School, Duke played and formed a band with The Lewis Brothers and Sharon Bryant. The group, which ultimately became the popular R&B / Pop success “Atlantic Starr”, recorded their first two albums, “Radiant”(1980) and “Brillance” (1982), both featuring Duke. This led to the recording of Duke’s debut solo album for CTI Records entitled “Thunder Island”. Duke attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, studying music and film. Like most artists; prior to his commercial success, he worked the New York club circuit; i.e., Fat Tuesday’s, Metropolis, Birdland, etc. In the late 70’s, Duke had the privileged opportunity to study traditional Island Rhythms, Calypso and Soca at the University of Virgin Islands with then Professor Larry McCleallan who went on to serve as Dean at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston. With influences such as Kenny Dorham, Woody Shaw, Lee Morgan, Benny Bailey and of course, Miles Davis, all of whom helped shape Duke’s trumpet voice. Duke went on to tour Japan, Europe and Africa, working with established musicians such as The Temptations, Angela Bofill, Larry Coryell and Marion Meadows. He began collaborating and recording with such artists as August Darnell of Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and drummer, producer Norman Connors, serving as an original member of his Starship Orchestra and spin-off group Aquarian Dream on Buddah Records. In 1992, Duke served as Vice President of Creole Records, a label started with then band mate August Darnell (Kid Creole). The label, distributed by Nippon Columbia, released seven CD’s in Japan and the U.S. with one CD, “The KC2 Meets KC3”, becoming the fifth largest selling English speaking record in Japan. In 2005, he formed Café Soul All-Stars and recorded their debut CD “Love Pages” which featured George Benson, Roy Ayers and Kenny Garrett among other great musicians.

DUKE JONES

Performer, contributor

Trumpeter Albert Jones is affectionately known to all friends and followers as “Duke”. A nickname is acquired from his favorite aunt, because of his love of music at an early age. A native of New York City via White Plains. Duke began playing trumpet at the age of nine. In elementary school and through White Plains High School, Duke played and formed a band with The Lewis Brothers and Sharon Bryant. The group, which ultimately became the popular R&B / Pop success “Atlantic Starr”, recorded their first two albums, “Radiant”(1980) and “Brillance” (1982), both featuring Duke. This led to the recording of Duke’s debut solo album for CTI Records entitled “Thunder Island”.... 
read more

Trumpeter Albert Jones is affectionately known to all friends and followers as “Duke”. A nickname is acquired from his favorite aunt, because of his love of music at an early age. A native of New York City via White Plains. Duke began playing trumpet at the age of nine. In elementary school and through White Plains High School, Duke played and formed a band with The Lewis Brothers and Sharon Bryant. The group, which ultimately became the popular R&B / Pop success “Atlantic Starr”, recorded their first two albums, “Radiant”(1980) and “Brillance” (1982), both featuring Duke. This led to the recording of Duke’s debut solo album for CTI Records entitled “Thunder Island”.

Duke attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, studying music and film. Like most artists; prior to his commercial success, he worked the New York club circuit; i.e., Fat Tuesday’s, Metropolis, Birdland, etc. In the late 70’s, Duke had the privileged opportunity to study traditional Island Rhythms, Calypso and Soca at the University of Virgin Islands with then Professor Larry McCleallan who went on to serve as Dean at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.

With influences such as Kenny Dorham, Woody Shaw, Lee Morgan, Benny Bailey and of course, Miles Davis, all of whom helped shape Duke’s trumpet voice. Duke went on to tour Japan, Europe and Africa, working with established musicians such as The Temptations, Angela Bofill, Larry Coryell and Marion Meadows. He began collaborating and recording with such artists as August Darnell of Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and drummer, producer Norman Connors, serving as an original member of his Starship Orchestra and spin-off group Aquarian Dream on Buddah Records.

In 1992, Duke served as Vice President of Creole Records, a label started with then band mate August Darnell (Kid Creole). The label, distributed by Nippon Columbia, released seven CD’s in Japan and the U.S. with one CD, “The KC2 Meets KC3”, becoming the fifth largest selling English speaking record in Japan.

In 2005, he formed Café Soul All-Stars and recorded their debut CD “Love Pages” which featured George Benson, Roy Ayers and Kenny Garrett among other great musicians.

Diaz Mussalimov Multi-Cultural, Performer / International liaison At four-years old, Diaz Mussalimov had the strong urge to go on stage at the first concert he attended in his hometown, Semey, Kazakhstan. Against his grandmother’s wishes, his great aunt took him to the stage and to his delight he was invited to sing and dance. A week after the concert, his family received a phone call from a Tatar school of arts inviting him to take singing lessons, a pivotal moment as this was the start of his music career. When he was 13, Diaz wrote a song called My Semey that has since become something of an anthem for the people from there. He continues to receive international praise from fans for this upbeat, feel-good tune. He graduated in 2011 from Almaty College of Music named after P.I. Tchaikovsky in Kazakhstan where he studied voice.That same year he moved to New York City to continue to pursue his passion for music. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in media from Norfolk State University with a concentration in voice and he’s currently working on a Master of Music degree at New York University with a focus on classical voice and opera.  A multi-talented artist, Diaz plays piano, sings in seven languages, composes songs and writes most of the lyrics. He has performed at music festivals and events around the world, including La Mortella, the home and gardens of English composer Sir William Walton in Ischia, Italy, and in front of the presidents of Kazakhstan and Tatarstan. He’s also a tenor soloist who sings with the gospel choir at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, New York.  It’s an understatement to say that Diaz is well-rounded, exposed and unique. His singing idols include artists such as Craig David, Brian McKnight, Stevie Wonder and Luciano Pavarotti. Diaz doesn’t put himself in a box, describing his musical styles as classical, opera, gospel, R&B, and pop/soul fusion. Even though he considers Brooklyn his second home now, he still performs in Kazakhstan and has started producing for other artists from there and Russia. 

Diaz Mussalimov

Multi-Cultural, Performer / International liaison

At four-years old, Diaz Mussalimov had the strong urge to go on stage at the first concert he attended in his hometown, Semey, Kazakhstan. Against his grandmother’s wishes, his great aunt took him to the stage and to his delight he was invited to sing and dance. A week after the concert, his family received a phone call from a Tatar school of arts inviting him to take singing lessons, a pivotal moment as this was the start of his music career. When he was 13, Diaz wrote a song called My Semey that has since become something of an anthem for the people from there. He continues to receive international praise from fans for this upbeat, feel-good tune.

He graduated in 2011 from Almaty College of Music named after P.I. Tchaikovsky in Kazakhstan where he studied voice.That same year he moved to New York City to continue to pursue his passion for music. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in media from Norfolk State University with a concentration in voice and he’s currently working on a Master of Music degree at New York University with a focus on classical voice and opera. 

A multi-talented artist, Diaz plays piano, sings in seven languages, composes songs and writes most of the lyrics. He has performed at music festivals and events around the world, including La Mortella, the home and gardens of English composer Sir William Walton in Ischia, Italy, and in front of the presidents of Kazakhstan and Tatarstan. He’s also a tenor soloist who sings with the gospel choir at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, New York. 

It’s an understatement to say that Diaz is well-rounded, exposed and unique. His singing idols include artists such as Craig David, Brian McKnight, Stevie Wonder and Luciano Pavarotti. Diaz doesn’t put himself in a box, describing his musical styles as classical, opera, gospel, R&B, and pop/soul fusion. Even though he considers Brooklyn his second home now, he still performs in Kazakhstan and has started producing for other artists from there and Russia. 

Ed Stokes, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, is a media producer. Having started his own production company, Bk Scholar Productions, shortly after graduating from Long Island University with a B.A. in journalism, Ed has worked with many major media corporations including ESPN, VH1, N.B.A and Major League Baseball. In addition to producing media, Mr. Stokes works with youth throughout New York City’s five boroughs teaching music and media production. Mr. Stokes is an avid baseball fan and brother of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.