Beetroot was founded by Fiona Wilkes, Jason Mills, and Marivaldo Dos Santos, who met as members of the globally acclaimed percussion performance group STOMP. Wilkes has been with STOMP since its original inception in Brighton, England, while Mills and Dos Santos joined the cast a few years later when the show relocated to NYC. Through STOMP's success, the three have toured in over 25 countries on 6 continents, worked on Quincy Jones' grammy nominated album Q's Juke Joint, and appeared in the Oscar-nominated short film Brooms.
The unique rhythmic sensibilities these three honed after years of banging out stripped-down beats together around the world is what prompted Beetroot. Mills, from rural Virginia, and Dos Santos, from Bahia, Brazil, combine Stax-era southern soul drums and Afro-Brazilian percussion to create their own backbeat vocabulary. Their dirty, driving tempo contrasts sharply with Wilkes' sweet, smoky vocals, which are steeped in a lifetime of steel bands, soca, and Lover's Rock reggae ballads in the massive West Indian community of Leeds, England. This juxtaposition of musical ingredients from different genres and continents is the foundation of Beetroot’s sound.
The recipe is completed by Wynne Bennet (keys), Brian Satz (bass), and Dave Guy (trumpet). Wynne, a Jersey girl, is a classically trained composition major who, among other things, has recently penned orchestral arrangements for Cassandra Wilson and worked alongside Phillip Glass. Brian, originally from the Bay Area, recently relocated to NYC. His experience as a songwriter, as well as his comfort with both the electric and upright bass, has made him an invaluable part of the Beetroot rhythm section. Recently Dave Guy has also been touring with the JB's-era Funk & Soul outfit The Dap-Kings (feat. Sharon Jones).
Although the ingredients used to create the Beetroot sound may be familiar, the result is anything but. Their debut full-length album “13” , currently available at CDBaby.com, contains songs ranging from Futuristic Soul to Afro-Brazilian Dub, Two-Step Ska to New Orleans Dancehall, all laced with Wilkes' infectious melodies and rich harmonies. “13” has already started making waves in the underground and above, having recently been named one of five finalists for Album of The Year (2005) by the Independant Music Awards. In addition, the albums’ second single “Peel” was among five finalists for Blues/R&B Song of The Year (2005). “13” is currently slated for an August 2006 release on Trident Style Records in Japan.