Chances are, you’ve heard the sound of Tia Fuller before.
If you saw the blockbuster Pixar film, Soul, Fuller served as the sound behind the music of animated character “Dorothea Williams,” the sassy saxophonist (voiced by Angela Bassett).
If you’ve caught any of Beyonce’s tours, Tia was part of an all-star All-Female Band, that also appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Ellen Show, The Grammy’s, World Music Awards and many others.
Fuller is a Grammy-nominated Mack Avenue recording artist, composer, educator and bandleader who is currently balancing the worlds of performance
and education, fulfilling a demanding schedule as both a busy touring, recording artist and a full-time professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
She has recorded five full-length projects with her own quartet and her most recent album, Diamond Cut, received a Grammy nomination in the Best Instrumental Jazz category.
The album was produced by three-time Grammy Award winner Terri Lyne Carrington, legendary bassist, Dave Holland and drummer, Jack Dejohnette.
Additionally, she can been seen playing regularly with Terri Lyne Carrington, Ralph Peterson Jr., Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Rufus Reid and many more.
Fuller has also expanded her presence as a model and essayist being featured in J.Jill’s “Rhythm and Blues” campaign, Vanity Fair’s “Women in Jazz” issue, and wrote an opinion piece for NBCNEWS.com on “Sexism in Jazz.”
Fuller has also graced the cover of Downbeat Magazine, Jazztimes, Saxophone Today, The Jazz Education Journal, and recently Japan’s, The Sax Magazine.
Her newest project, The Sax Loft, is an online teaching collaboration with sax legends, Kirk Whalum and Jeff Coffin.
Fuller has received numerous awards and marks of distinction including, winning Jazztimes Jazz Critics Poll for best alto saxophonist (2018), and Downbeat Critic’s Poll-‘Rising Star’ two years in a row for Soprano Sax (2014), Alto Sax and Flute (2013).
In 2018, she has also received the Benny Golson Award from Howard University, the Distinguished Alumnae Award and commencement speaker from the University of Colorado at Boulder and appointed as 2018’s Artist-in-Residence at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
As a Professor at Berklee College of Music, she also shares her expertise directing the Rainbow big band and All Stars, the Esperanza Ensemble, repertoire class, jazz improvisation, two jazz combos and the Christian Mcbride Ensemble.
In addition, she produces and directs large production ground-breaking ensembles such as, the Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Ariana Grande Ensembles.
These groups focus on cross-collaboration throughout the college and is reflective of an “A-list” tour/production incorporating musicians, choreography, strings, dancers, video and lighting.
As an artist, performer, and teacher, Fuller feels that she is fulfilling her purpose here on this earth, which is to “serve as a light for others.”
In this episode, we talked about:
- The importance of singing as a saxophone player
- Her newest project, with Kirk Whalum and Jeff Coffin, The Sax Loft
- How she adapted as a musician during the pandemic
- Auditioning for Beyonce
- Her thought process when performing
- How she got the job for Pixar’s ‘Soul’ movie
- Her approach to improvisation today and back then
- One tool that really helped her playing
Tia Fuller’s Links:
The Sax Loft: www.thesaxloft.com
You can watch the video of this interview here:
This episode was sponsored by 10mFan Mouthpieces