It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you THE SUN KING RISING STUDIO BAND. As you will see, this is an exceptional group of musicians (all but three live in Pittsburgh) who are driving SKR’s second album, “Signs & Wonders,” to great heights!
THE SUN KING RISING STUDIO BAND. This is a superb group of musicians. No boundaries can contain the talented individuals contributing to SKR’s second album, “Signs & Wonders” propelling Sun King Rising to even to greater heights!
Guitar master, Willie Ross, has played with such notables as The O’Jays, Melba Moore, and Eddie & Gerald Levert and is also a member of Cleveland’s Creative Players. Willie is a featured player at jazz festivals in the Cleveland/Youngstown area, having played at last year’s Tri-C JazzFest with Walter Barnes Jr. & Friends. Willie regularly travels from his home in the Cleveland area to add his own special brand of funk to the mix!
Steve Schuffert is a multi-talented self-taught musician, originally from New Castle, PA. Steve, who supplies many of the outstanding guitar solos on Delta Tales, attributes a lot of his musical influence to his cousin, John Blangero. He got his first big break in 1985 when he joined the rock group, The Godz, and has forged a long and impressive musical career. He has been a member of major label recording acts including Left End (who had two regional number one records). He later served as a session player in Nashville for many years, eventually signing with Fortune Records in Europe, for whom he recorded nine CDs. With the Steve Schuffert Band, he played seventeen extensive tours across the continent.
George Elliott, a native of Washington, PA plays bass for the SKR Studio Band. He is the bassist with country band North of Mason-Dixon (NoMaD), playing electric and upright bass at concerts and festivals throughout the U.S. NoMaD is one of the region’s most accomplished ensembles. George has performed with The River City Brass Band, The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh CLO, and Joe Piscopo. He has maintained a teaching studio for over 20 years and currently teaches bass guitar, upright bass, and guitar.
George Perilli, a Hopewell graduate, and “drummer to the stars” supplies the beat for the SKR Studio Band. George was the longtime drummer for Michael McDonald (of Doobie Brothers fame) and Reba McEntire. He has played with such other notables Donna Summer, Peter Cetera, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, and Boz Scaggs. George co-wrote a song with Michael McDonald entitled “Blink of an Eye.” I happened to stumble across a very cool YouTube video from McDonald’s The Blink of An Eye Tour - Stockholm (Rare Footage). Take a look to see George in action! Rounding out his notable accomplishments, George has also had the opportunity to appear in many movies and TV shows as either a musician or an actor.
Stephanie “Stevee” Wellons
Vocalist Stephanie (“Stevee”) Wellons is the Choirmaster for the SKR Studio Band. She has been performing in the tri-state area for the last 25 years and has worked with numerous area bands. Stevee has performed and recorded many styles and genres of music such as blues, R&B, country, rock-a-billy, jazz, soul, funk, rock, and gospel. An experienced recording artist as well, Stevee has recorded lead and background vocals for various artists in Pittsburgh, New York, Chicago, and Baltimore. Stevee Wellons Band won the 2015 Blues Society of Western PA's Blues Challenge and represented Western PA at the 2016 International Blues Challenge. Stevee currently performs as one half of the fabulous duo “Soulful Femme.” In addition to performing, Stevee is a teacher and vocal coach.
Iris "Joy" Brown
Iris “Joy” Brown, was born and raised in Pittsburgh, where she graduated from The Creative and Performing Arts School and Point Park College. She began singing at age 2 and considers her voice a gift from God. As a 5-year old prodigy, she began making a name for herself, winning first place on The Gong Show singing, “Our Love” by Natalie Cole. This earned her place on the Stanley Theater stage in 1979, singing the song live with Natalie Cole herself. As Joy matured she conquered the city, winning the Pittsburgh Gospel Awards Show three years in a row. Joy was the first black female to make The Civic Light Opera Ministars and played lead and supporting roles in numerous Broadway shows at the Benedum. The City of Pittsburgh awarded her the MVP WILLIE STARGELL AWARD PLAQUE along with Franco Harris and Dan Marino. Another impressive fact - Joy was the first vocalist to open up PNC Park singing the National Anthem for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Today, Joys sings in Pittsburgh’s #1 R&B Band, House Of Soul and continues to sing behind major stars like Issac Hayes, Percy Sledge, and Billy Paul,
Bernice Wilkerson is a native of Pittsburgh. She started singing when she was two years old at churches in the Pittsburgh area and her love for the art of singing propelled her to a stellar career. Bernice has performed with and/or opened for great artists throughout the years such as Patty Labelle, Isaac Hays, Evelyn Champagne King, The Whispers, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Melissa Morgan, Thelma Houston and many others. She also frequently performs with the “House of Soul” as the opening band before The Pittsburgh Pirates The Pittsburgh Steelers home games. Bernice says she is grateful to sing for a living and she thanks God for the ability to do so. Bernice sings to soothe the soul.
Ralph Guzzi, Adjunct Professor at Duquesne University, is the arranger for the SKR Band Horn Section. Ralph has been a music director and arranger for the PBS “My Music” series which is internationally broadcast and features artists such as Patti Labelle, Isaac Hayes, the Temptations, Robert Goulet, Wild Cherry, the Platters, and The Commodores to name a few. He has also arranged music for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and symphonies in Wheeling, W. VA, McKeesport, PA, and Washington, PA. Ralph has composed and arranged music on many commercial recording projects, albums, and movie trailers.
Eric DeFade is a musician with over 30 years of professional experience, having played with greats such as Rosemary Clooney and Josh Groban. For the past 10 years, he has been a featured performer for the “My Music” series on PBS. Eric has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show accompanying legendary jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson. Eric’s freelance schedule includes performances with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, the Civic Light Opera, The Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild All-Star Big Band, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, and local favorite Billy Price.
Kevin is a Pittsburgh-based trombonist and holds a degree in music education from Penn State University, a Graduate Performer’s Certificate from SUNY Purchase Conservatory, and a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Kevin has also performed on Broadway in NYC as well as with such artists as Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Josh Grobin, Frankie Vallie, Aretha Franklin, and many more! Mr. McManus is the founder and leader of The Bone Forum, a jazz 10 trombone ensemble with the rhythm section; The Kevin M. McManus Jazz Octet, a swingin’ eight-piece jazz ensemble; and The Pittsburgh Trombone Project, one of America’s premier chamber music ensembles.
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