They started out as a group of individuals, then later became a band of gypsies….. Now known as “blackgypsy!"
Meeting in 2003, literally onstage, Shelby J. sat in as guest vocalist and tasted the flavorful soul of future band mates Carter McLean & Derek Layes. They didn’t know it then but their fate was sealed. Between gigs, these fast friends were kicking it and jamming, when they began to notice something special was forming. Adding percussionist David "Deej" DiGiantomasso & keyboardist JonSolo , they decided to make it official, and called themselves, The Providaz.
The Summer of ‘03 The Providaz travelled to Walla Walla, Washington to open for jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis & John Scofield at the NW Jazz & Wine Festival. Audiences were blown away by Shelby J's vocals & their genuine love & joy of playing music together on stage.
The talented band underwent some changes and emerged with a new name, blackgypsy. In July of ‘04, they once again took to the stage, this time in Shelby J's hometown of Greensboro, NC. Fueling the spirit of the Annual Fun Fourth Celebration, blackgypsy’s electrifying stage show ignited the crowd and secured them an invitation to return the following summer. Declining the offer, band members instead continued touring with the hottest acts, and began recording independent projects with many of them.
Shelby J, David & Carter hit the road, with recording artist Martin Luther (Rebel Soul Music) while Derek & Jon Solo toured with the super talented singer/guitarist Jamie McLean (Dirty Dozen Brass Band].
blackgypsy briefly reunited in 2005 to be the backing band for the then unsigned Anthony Hamilton's artist showcase at club S.O.B.'s in NYC, with Shelby J. & Jack "J.K." King (Soultronics) on backing vocals.
In high demand, Shelby J. and these extraordinarily, gifted musicians took a pause to remember the early days they shared. 2009 saw them return to what they know and love. The gypsies were nostalgic for the pure joy they knew on stage, performing their own distinctive, soulful sound. They also discovered that there was an overwhelming demand for the music originally performed in Walla Walla & on the New York City club circuit. They knew what they had to do! The result, banging tracks ready to download as “blackgypsy Vol.1”. The songs originally performed during their “early years” have been perfected, re-mixed and are ready to be heard! Enjoy!
blackgypsy is Shelby J. (vocals/lyricist), Jon Solo (keyboards/composer), Carter McLean (drums), David "Deej" DiGiantomasso (percussion/electronics), Derek Layes (bass)
blackgypsy has a flair for all things funky…download a bit of southern comfort today!
Shelby Johnson aka Shelby J. The a singer/songwriter/ producer from North Carolina, has met and performed with some of the greatest talent in recorded music history. From the dawn of the new millennium to date Shelby J. has grown exponentially as an artist, benefiting from her almost daily exposure to headliner talent. After a decade of providing vocals for such artists as Prince, Santana and Larry Graham, Shelby J. has arrived in a new stratosphere.
In 2000 she became the lone female member of D'Angelo's band, "The Soultronics" performing with him in the highly acclaimed "Voodoo Tour" alongside close friend and now Grammy Award winner and R&B sensation Anthony Hamilton.
In early 2003 Shelby collaborated, performed and toured with jazz trumpeting great, Roy Hargrove (Verve Records) and is the featured vocalist and co-writer of the tune "How I Know," on his Grammy nominated CD "The RH Factor." Simultaneously, her budding friendship with a few musicians became the creative force and foundation behind the sound destined to become blackgypsy.
Next up for the vocal master, a stint with Jamie McLean, performing both live dates & in the studio recording the debut cd "This Time Around." Plus, Shelby J. joined the National tour with Martin Luther (Rebel Soul Music) and re-connected with blackgypsy band member "Deej". They continued touring with Martin Luther & then they both joined Anthony Hamilton's 2006 "Ain't Nobody Worryin' Tour" & on to the "Change Your World Tour" with Santana.
Shelby J. continued on her solo journey and in the fall of 2006 was asked to join the legendary bassist Larry Graham (Sly & the Family Stone, Graham Central Station) for shows at Prince's 3121 Club in Las Vegas. The rest as they say is history! In late ‘06/early ‘07, Shelby began performing as part of Prince's band the NPG in Las Vegas. Featured in mega shows with Prince, Shelby J. took to the field at the 2007 Superbowl Halftime Show & later rocked the European scene in the history making concert series, "21 Nights in London" @ the O2 arena. Shelby J. can be heard singing her heart out on the Prince track, "Chelsea Rodgers" (Planet Earth) & on "Misty Blue" and "Baby Luv"(Indigo Nights/21 Nights book & cd).
2010 has more wonderful things in store for Shelby as she continues to grow as an artist & person. She is currently writing and recording songs for her highly anticipated debut solo album, writing songs for blackgypsy's next album "blackgypsy Vol.2" & she continues performing as part of the NPG. Shelby is also writing & arranging songs for many other recording artist & collaborating with writer/producers Darron "Tripp" Thomas (Media1Music), Anton Bass (SeatoSun Records) & writer/producer Butter (Bread-n-Butter Productions). The Sky is the only limit for this bright, rising star.
*Keep up with Shelby J. @
Carter McLean plays some SERIOUS drums. He’s what sports writers call a "multithreat". This gifted musician plays tabla, guitar and piano. In addition, he's a composer, arranger, and synth programmer. "And the guy's only in his twenties!" -Modern Drummer Magazine (2005). Carter born in San Francisco California in 1978, soon after moved to Connecticut where he fell in love with music, and especially the drums. At the impressionable age of 10, he began to follow his hearts desire, to be a musician experimenting with and listening to every genre and style possible.
He has performed with the Big Band at Birdland & with the World renowned orchestra of The Lion King on Broadway. Carter has been busy touring and doing studio work in the city & is currently mixing and mastering his debut solo album scheduled for release in 2010! McLean has shared the stage or toured with Victor Wooten, Anthony Hamilton, Shelby J. (Prince), Bernie Worell (Parliament Funkadelic) Fred Wesley (James Brown), Melvin Sparks, Martin Luther, Leni Stern, Toby Lightman, Dana Fuchs, Ted Lennon, Tony Furtado, Jamie McLean, The Providaz...now "blackgypsy" and many others.
When not touring, Carter McLean lives in New York soaking up the sultry
rhythms of the city collaborating , creating and making great new music.
Carter is endorsed by: DW ,Zildjian,Vater ,Evans, Presonus.
*Keep u with Carter @
Jon Solo’s musical journey began at four years old, in Ellensburg, WA. When most kids simply attend preschool, in 1981, Jon was on the campus of Central Washington University, under the tutelage of Dr. Bonalyn Bricker Smith, the chairman of the university’s piano department. For the next fourteen years he studied classical piano, winning numerous honors at the regional and national levels. Then, known as Jonathan Hansen, the 10-year-old prodigy appeared as a regular on the KING-TV Music Magic series during the1988-89 television season.
During his teen years, he developed as a budding jazz pianist and drummer as well as a rock and roll guitarist. He played oboe in the Morgan Middle School band and piano in its jazz band and later played both piano and drum sets for the Ellensburg High School jazz band. As a freshman, he was instrumental in the formation of a jazz combo that performed to great acclaim while on tour in Japan.
During his high school years he, along with friends Jason Mapes, Andy Rydman and Brendan Schmitt formed a rock and roll band, The Bitter End and later became known as Downshift. They produced two albums with original music and songs written by Solo and performed at local venues in Central and Western Washington.
Upon graduation from high school, he received the President’s Scholarship to Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle as a classical pianist. After one semester he followed his musical muse to the school’s highly regarded jazz program where he studied piano under Dave Peck. He performed with such well-known artists as, Julian Priester and Hadly Calliman around the Northwest. He also formed a trio with drummer Byron Vanoy and Ev Stern known as Rootjooce. The acid jazz combo received stellar reviews for their unique take on jazz standards as well as original compositions. During his years in Seattle they produced two albums, "Rootjooce" and "Rootjooce Fortified."
After graduating in 2000, with honors from Cornish College, Jon Solo moved to New York City and continued to play sets at various jazz venues around town. Expanding into composing and other genres, including hip hop influenced jazz, Jon Solo and partner Probe DMS formed the duo Spymusic. They produced a solo broken beat record entitled "Cloak" that hit the top of the dance charts in Europe and Australia in 2003. Their first record, The Start of Something Big, came out in 2003.
Maintaining a connection with his jazz roots, Jon performed a twice monthly jazz gig with bassist Derek Layes at Louis’-- a small club on the lower east side of New York. He also collaborated with bandmate singer/songwriter Shelby J. from 2003-2006 on songs that would later become part of "blackgypsy Vol.1." During this same period of time Solo was playing keyboards for the soon-to-be Platinum & Grammy award winning recording artist Anthony Hamilton. Solo joined with singer songwriter Jamie McLean on two albums—"This Time Around" and "American Heartache."
Most recently, Solo became the keyboard player for singer songwriter Brett Dennen. He also plays guitar and is backup vocalist for the breakout folk rocker. They have toured the US, Europe & also appeared on several television shows, including Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, Conan O’Brian, Craig Ferguson and Carson Daly. After performing at several large festivals such as Bonaroo, Summerfest and Rothbury--they opened for O.A.R at major venues in the US and Canada. Solo has also played the Lands End Festival in San Francisco, the Bumbershoot in Seattle,The Austin City Limits Festival & The Hollywood Bowl with Jason Mraz. Solo has also produced records for many aspiring singers and musicians, including Dawn Clement, a Seattle based pianist-singer. JonSolo continues to grow and evolve as a singer & songwriter with a musical style all his own.
*Keep up with JonSolo @
David “Deej” DiGiantomasso in one of New York’s most sought-after diverse pop, R&B, Soul, Hip-hop, rock, Latin and Jazz Percussionist. He has recorded, played and toured with Anthony Hamilton- "Ain't Nobody Worryin' & "Change Your World" tour, Santana-"All That I Am" tour, Original Parliament-NC Fun 4th Festival, Martin Luther opening act for Jill Scott- "Big Beautiful" tour, and in NYC with Shelby J., The Providaz..now "blackgypsy" & with bassist Benny Rietveld. His journey as a musician began at the tender age of 7 when he was handed down a trumpet from his older brother. Then at age 15 he started playing percussion. He has studied at Ocean County College, The Boys Harbor Latin Music Conservatory in Harlem, Brooklyn College & at the Drummers Collective in NYC . Deej has also studied privately under such greats as Frank Colon & Doc Gibbs.
David also apprenticed under Morris Lang in Orchestral percussion and drum making. Deej is featured in many music videos in current rotation on VH1 Soul (Martin Luther Unplugged), MTV Europe, AOL Live (Anthony Hamilton) & the BBC live concerts series. David was featured on the TV Show "Livin it up with Patty Labelle" with Shelby J. performing at Melba's Restaurant in Harlem. He also performed on the 2007 Korean Video Music Awards. Deej has recorded, with John Legend's protege' Estelle, producer Fred McFarlane, DJ Darryl James & with writer/producer Butter (Bread-n-Butter Prod.) featuring Roy Hargrove (Verve Records)
Deej contributed a composition to the film John Fine's "Falvio" which received The Best Documentary Award at the Woodstock Film Festival 2005. In 2008 Deej recorded with drummer Swiss Chris (John Legend) on his solo album and played at Madison Square Garden with Korean megastar JY Park. Deej has also been working with Nina Vidal in Japan as well as actor/comedian Craig Robinson's (Pineapple Express, The Office) band "Nasty Delicious". Deej is currently working on his solo album that will be released soon. David serves his community as a Musical Teaching Artist in the NYC Public School System helping to keep the love of music & performing alive for future generations.
*Keep up with "Deej" @
*The Bassist *
Derek Layes comes from Olympia, Washington & is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in Music. He has toured and shared the stage with artist Melvin Sparks, Leni Stern, Anthony Hamilton, Fred Wesley (James Brown, P-Funk), Jamie McLean, Shane Hensley (Ani DiFranco), Shelby J. (Prince, D'Angelo, Anthony Hamilton, Larry Graham) The Providaz...now "blackgypsy" & Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Wayne Krantz) His album credits include 1997's "Blue Planet" & "Finally the Rain Has Come" (Leni Stern 2001).
Derek has contributed his bass talents to the theater in productions of "Planet Banana","Anything Goes", and the highly acclaimed "Chorus Line". Derek's rich musical history has also included playing 3rd chair cello with the Seattle Symphony, cellist with the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble & private instruction in cello with True Sackrison & Walter Gray. Derek has also logged many hours as a seasoned session musician with DMS Productions & Blackgypsy Enterprises.
Another love of Derek's in Urban Farming and The Mobile Food Collective. For more info check out www.archeworks.org/mfc/.
*Keep up with Derek @
**All lead & background vocals performed & arranged by Shelby Johnson for Blackgypsy Music
*"blackgypsy Vol.1" Produced by JonSolo for Jonsolo Music & Shelby Johnson for Blackgypsy Music**
**Special guest appearance by* Anthony Hamilton on track #5, **Gregoire Maret (harmonica) on track #2 &4 .Gregoire exclusively plays the Gregoire Maret signature models G-48 and G-48 W by SUZUKI,**Mike Gohaki (lead guitar) on track #5**
**"blackgypsy Vol.1" recorded, mixed & mastered by Dan Kocen, Probe for DMS Productions, & Darron "Tripp" Thomas for Media1Music & JonSolo for JonSoloMusic**
**Special Thanks to honorary gypsies Antwon Robinson, Mitch Matclock ,Eric Katerle, Bernard Grubman & Mike Gohaki**
*Album notes by Elyse Hansford Anderson for nSightful Media*