2018 Monterey Jazz Festival Artist-in-Residence
Mack Avenue recording artist Tia Fuller is a touring artist and full-time professor at the Berklee College of Music. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta (Magna Cum Laude) and her Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder (Summa Cum Laude). Tia was selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with R&B star, Beyoncé, as part of the I AM... Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé Experience world tours, and has played in various venues throughout the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
She is a featured soloist on the Beyoncé Experience DVD (Me, Myself and I), I Am... Yours DVD (Wynn Theatre) and also appeared on number of major television shows, such as the Oprah Winfrey Show, Today Show, Good Morning America, BET Awards, American Music Awards and Total Request Live, the 2010 Grammy Awards, and has performed as the featured soloist with Beyoncé for President Obama at the White House.
Tia has recorded four CDs with her quartet. The first, Pillar of Strength (2005/Wambui), received praise as being "an exhilarating work that introduced her as a leader who strives for perfection" (All About Jazz magazine). Her sophomore release, Healing Space (2007/Mack Avenue), is an offering of “melodic medicine” and healing agent. Her third, Decisive Steps, and her second for Mack Avenue, received the #1 JazzWeek rating for two weeks straight, placed #3 in JET magazine’s top jazz CDs, and was nominated for Best Jazz Album by JazzWeek. Her fourth album, Angelic Warrior, received praise from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and numerous jazz publications. Tia’s quartet has performed world-wide, including the Angola, Croatia, South Africa, North Sea, Umbria, and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and New York’s prestigious Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, just to name a few.
Tia can also be seen touring regularly with a number of bands, including: Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning Mosaic Project and Money Jungle “Provocative in Blue.” She is the assistant musical director for Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society tour, and Dianne Reeves’ Beautiful Life tour. She has also performed with luminaries such as the Ralph Peterson Septet, Rufus Reid Quintet, Geri Allen, the Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, Wycliff Gordon Septet, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Chaka Kahn, Ledisi, Kelly Rowland, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, Pattie Labelle, Nona Hendryx, Sheila E., Valerie Simpson, Dionne Warwick, Janelle Monáe, Patrice Rushen, Erykah Badu, and Aretha Franklin.
The dynamic saxophonist has been featured on the March 2014 cover of Saxophone Today, the Jazz Education Journal, and JazzTimes Magazine. In addition, she has received numerous awards and marks of distinction including, winning DownBeat Critic’s Poll "Rising Star" two years in a row for Soprano Sax (2014), Alto Sax and Flute (2013). Tia was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Jazz Institute of New Jersey’s 2003 graduation ceremony, where she presented her “Journey to Success” speech. She also be featured soloist playing the National Anthem in Detroit’s Tiger Stadium in 2009, and interviewed on Fox 5 News and Fox 2 News in Detroit and Washington D.C.
As a devoted educator, Tia is a full-time Professor at Berklee College of Music, where she directs the prestigious Rainbow Big Band and Rainbow All-Stars, in addition to six other ensembles including repertoire and jazz improvisation classes. It is here and beyond, that she believes her passion for teaching and inspiring students is due to her parents being educators/administrators in the Denver Public School District. In addition, she presents lectures, residencies and masterclasses at some of the most respected institutions in the country including Duke University, University of Colorado at Denver, Spelman College, University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, New Mexico State University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, China Residency, and Rimon School of Music in Israel. Tia was also part of a two-day seminar led by Geri Allen at University of Pittsburgh that included Curtis Fuller, Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Esperanza Spalding.
Tia moved to Jersey City, New Jersey two days before the events of September 11, 2001. Despite the fact that the jazz community believed there was not much work in the area during that period, she wasn’t discouraged and used the tragic event as a reason to succeed. She got her first gig playing in a big band at a fish fry in South Jersey. Brad Leali, who was playing in the Count Basie Orchestra at the time, spread the word that Tia was a skillful saxophonist who also played the flute. This brought her to the attention of others in the jazz community, including Gerald Wilson, Jimmy Heath, Don Braden and Don Byron, which led to her performing with a number of luminaries in the world of jazz.
With music in her blood and a song in her heart, Tia was born in Aurora, Colorado to jazz musicians, Fred and Elthopia Fuller. Her father, Fred plays bass and her mother, Elthopia sings. She grew up listening to her parents rehearse in the basement of their home, as well as the music of jazz greats, such as John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker.
Inspired by her older sister, Shamie, Tia began playing classical piano when she was just three years old and continued until she was thirteen. She also began studying the flute when she was nine. Her interest in jazz came into fruition in high school. It was during this time that she began playing the saxophone. The Colorado native, and 14-year New Jersey resident who now resides in Boston, says playing music makes her feel as if she is a vessel for the Spirit to flow through. While listening to her songs, she wants people to be uplifted and experience a sense of restoration, compelling them to move forward not in fear, but in love and faith.