URBAN BLU consists of 8 members, 3 very talented and gifted female vocalist and 5 professionally seasoned players. Urban Blu is one of the newest and hottest jazz / funk bands around the Atlanta area as well as nationally. With heart throbbing bass rhythms, foot tapping drumbeats, melodic keyboard riffs, guitar strumming licks, sax-o-matic notes and vocals that will surely touch the soul, Urban Blu is now an emerging musical force that is taking the jazz/funk music scene by storm.
The sound of the band is the signature sound envisioned by their founder and leader, Dez' Billingslea. Urban Blu combines funk with a neo-smooth jazz flavor that will not only get you attention, but will put you in a hypnotic trance that will captivate your soul.
Producer/Jazz Drummer: Dez Billingslea's Biography
URBAN BLU INC. is the brainchild of Jazz Drummer/Producer Fernandez Billingslea, commonly known by most of his musical associates as "Dez". Dez' is a native Georgian and comes from one of the most music rich southern cities, Macon Georgia. From the early to mid 1950's to the current day, Macon, Georgia has produced several known musical artist. Macon can boast the likes of James Brown, The Allman Brothers Band, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Sea Level, and Wet Willie to name a few.
Dez' is the second oldest son of the late Mr. & Mrs. Frank Billingslea. From the early age of 3 years old Dez' began to demonstrate his musical spirit and God given talent. As early as the third grade Dez's mother began to notice his musical interest and insisted that he join the elementary school band to take lessons. Not by his choice, his first instrument was the Clarinet. Then from the 4th grade to the 6th, Dez' was taught to play the Saxophone. The Saxophone proved to be more of a challenge and his improvisation skills began to develope. Even though the Sax allowed him more creativity, it still did not quench his musical thirst to grow and expand to the next level. It was only when he discovered the Drums that he finally accepted his fate of becoming a Drummer. Dez' quickly learn to play not only the High School Marching Band drums but also self taught himself to play a full trap set. By the time Dez' entered the 12th grade he turned professional. This quickly catapulted Dez' to play with several local bands and with older more experienced musicians where he learned valuable knowledge and experience.
After graduating High School, Dez' chose not to attend college like his older brother, instead he decided to get a job which allowed him to pursue his dream of becoming a full time professional musician and being discovered. In later years Dez finally did attend college and obtained a BSCS in Computer Science as a backup profession.
Today Dez' is the President / CEO of Urban Blu Recordings Inc. and is the leader and founder of the Jazz / Funk Band "Urban Blu". His inovative production skills combined with a funk R&B'ish jazz feel separates him from most musicians and demonstrates a uniqueness untolded. His arsenal of instruments now includes Drums, Alto & Tenor Sax, Congas / bongos, Bass Guitar, Flute and a never ending list of percussion extras.
Dez's drumming technique was shaped by such personal teachers and known artist like Jaimo, drummer for the "Allman Brothers Band", Joe English former drummer for "Jam Factory" and Paul McCartney, Tyrone former drummer for the "SOS R&B Band." However his most beloved teacher was John Morgan, former drummer for the God Father of Soul, James Brown. Keeping this type of musical company vaulted Dez' again to another level of his musical ability. Networking and interacting with other musicians, Dez' was introduced to Zelma Redding, the wife of the late Otis Redding. They met at a Record Shop she owned called "Big O Records". This was around the late 70's and early 80's which led to his introduction to her sons Dexter and Otis Redding Jr. This band later became known as "Father Pride" and then eventually "The Redding's". They performed locally and nation wide.
After the Redding's, a much known Jazz/Funk Band called "Shabazz" recruited Dez'. This experience provided Dez' with the jazz music theory knowledge he hungered for. Now with over 27 years of musical experience, Dez' is living his dream and satisfying his passion for music, by owning and managing his own recording company and leading his own Jazz Band.
LEAD VOCALIST/Lyricists: VIVA SNOWDEN - This dynamic lead vocalist is originally from Savannah, Georgia bringing 25 years of musical experience. Viva began singing at local talent shows, church choirs and weddings. Viva also brings extensive Recording Studio experience as well as style and grace. Viva's sultry sexy vocal deliverance singing style really anchors the group "Urban Blu" and puts the group in the forefront of Jazz performances.
BASS GUITARIST/Writer: BASS GUITARIST/Writer: JOSHUA KNIGHT is originally from Pensacola, Florida and began playing, writing and arranging at the age of 14. He brings years of recording and performing experience to "Urban Blu". Josh has played bass guitar and toured nationally with different bands, including the band "Rio Negro". He has also written and produced music for several gospel and R&B artist over the years and has developed a unique playing style. Josh is well known in the gospel world as one of Atlanta's premiere bass guitar players.
Independent Artist KEYBOARDIST: ARTHUR TURNER - Originally from Pittsburgh, PA. Arthur earned a music degree from Carnegie Mellon University and the New England Conservatory. His 25-year professional experience is vast, having worked in Dixieland bands, classical voice recitals (Ron Gattis of Boston). His first love, surprisingly enough, is Music Theater and in the 80s to the early 90s has worked extensively with Onstage Atlanta. Since relocating to Atlanta, he has accompanied singers and instrumentalists on stage at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Music Midtown, Montreux Music and the Sweet Auburn Festival to name a few. He is one of the groups Musical contributors and has extensive recording studio experience. Arthur's funk jazz/fusion style of playing adds texture and substance to the inner music.
VOCALIST/Lyricist: CRYSTAL M. HEARD - This dynamic vocalist is originally from Lithonia, Georgia bringing 12 years of musical experience. Known for her gospel roots has performed with "The Bible Way Mass Choir", "Dekalb Motivational Choir", "Joy Chorale Recording Choir", "C.O.O.L. J.C. Choir" and backgrounds vocals for "Milan". Crystal brings a soulful/sexy vocal deliverance that is compared to Aretha Franklin and urban vocalist Alisha Keys.
GUITARIST/Writer: SEAN SHUFFLER - Sean has played with the such artists as Deacon Blues, Little Richard's proteges - Jaye Swift and Company, Willie Hill and Zafar. Sean has also toured the east coast with ASCAP & BMI. He brings 20 years experience and coming from Trinidad, brings a very special island jazz flavor to the group.
VOCALIST/Background: BRITTANY MATTHEWS - Originally from Brooksville, Florida brings an Anita Baker type vibe and soothing mellow vocal harmony. Brittany is the latest addition to this emerging jazz music force. She made her debut solo performance at age 6 in a school exhibition performance. She is mostly known for her lead and background vocals in Church choirs, weddings and beauty pageants. She is one of the original members of the gospel group "Redeemed".
SAXOPHONIST: DWAN BOSMAN - Dwan is originally from Fort Myers, Florida. He has been performing since age 10. Being taught by his father got the best hands on classical and Jazz improvisional training and music cultivation needed. Dwan has performed with various National and Local Jazz and Gospel artist. Dwan is one of Atlanta's most talented emerging Jazz Saxophonist. He has been rated with such artist as Najee, Joshua Redman, Kenny G and Richard Elliot to name a few. His unique playing style adds smoothe melodies that will charm the angels.