2023 Artists

Althea René

Born on December 25th in Detroit, Michigan, Althea René began her musical journey at the tender age of four (4) years old. She studied classical music while attending Howard University. For more that ten (10) years she worked as a Wayne County Deputy Sheriff (in Detroit, MI) during the day and performed in jazz clubs at night.  Today, she endorses renowned hand-sculpted Altus Flutes as a full-time performing and recording artist.

Althea René gained musical inspiration from her father Dezie McCullers (one of Motown’s original Funk Brothers). She has since developed her creative style. Some regard her as a “master of her craft” and one of the world’s most exciting solo improvisational flutists. The multiplatinum and Grammy®-nominated saxophonist Najee playfully refers to her as the “Maceo of the flute”.

In May 2013, she released her hit CD titled “In the Flow”. Collaborating with Grammy® award winning producer Michael Broening, she co-wrote the title track that made history as the first flute featured single to be ranked “number one” on the Billboard and Smooth Jazz charts. This scorching hot single topped the charts for several weeks.

With a passionate mission to mentor women in the entertainment industry, Althea René authored an autobiography titled “Becoming Chocolate Barbie - a guide for professional women in the music business” in June 2018. The book was written in an interview format so that readers may easily use it as a reference resource. Everyone who aspires for a life in business can appreciate the insights that she shares.

Her plans for 2022 are substantial. Among her many performances scheduled throughout the year, Althea René is hosting her Second Annual South Central Jazz Fest on Saturday, October 15TH. Althea René, saxophonist Marcus Anderson, and vocalist Tracey Hamlin will deliver an amazing evening of music from a historic military airplane hanger in beautiful San Antonio, Texas.

She will release a few recordings this year. “The Best of Soul-Jazz Flutist Althea René” features sixteen (16) of her most popular songs recorded between the years of 2000 and 2013. It reflects her evolution as a writer and performer over thirteen (13) years. Althea René is also releasing a new project titled “Pastel Leather” in the third quarter. The theme of the project is a particular duality of human personalities and behaviors. Sometimes we are forced to exhibit a soft, polite, and forgiving demeanor while maintaining our mental and physical toughness from within. It features a powerful lineup of guest artist live vibe master Warren Wolf, trumpeter Lin Rountree, producer/writer Demetrius “Krayon” Nabors and jazz fusion icon Jeff Lorber.

Althea René is the proud recipient of the 2021 Presidential Volunteer Service Award which honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities and encourages those around them to take action. She conducts flute masterclasses and workshops with various universities and music-based organizations. She is the co-founder of the non-profit arts organization Colors & Song. With a passion to educate, entertain, and inspire people with music and art. Colors & Song promotes academic excellence and social justice via a wide range of activities. The organization’s focus is to promote goodwill, civic, and social awareness in the community.

Jeanette Harris

Jeanette Harris was born and raised in California’s post-Gold Rush town of Fresno in the center of the San Joaquin Valley. Reared by her mother, Annette, and her church organist father Floyd Harris – both of deep spiritual faith and intense believers in the art of music – Jeanette and her older brother, Michael, received their love of God and family genetically. “When I was five (5), my father put a guitar in my hands,” Jeanette begins. “A year later, he switched me to piano with a private teacher. I didn’t like it. Reading treble and bass clefs was so overwhelming that I would cry, but it gave me a great jumpstart. One day while driving me to 4TH grade, Mom was playing a cassette by Grover Washington, Jr. I remember looking at the picture of his alto sax. It was beautiful and Grover made it look so hip. I felt it would be the perfect instrument for me.

Jeanette played saxophone and piano from grade school to high school where band teach Steve Alcala also had her play in the Fresno City College jazz band even before she graduate high school. She won numerous awards and accolades, which led to a scholarship to attend Berklee in Boston where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance. Back in Fresno, Jeanette recorded her first self-released CD, Here and There, grabbing brother Michael to play drums with Patrick Olvera on bass, and began building a following by regularly packing Mike’s Pub & Pizzeria. She recorded her official debut album Reflections followed by Smooth Holiday Greetings on her family’s J&M Records (Jeanette & Michael’s initials, Mom and Dad’s funds).

Citing her influences, Jeanette continues, “(Saxophonist) Richard Elliot brought some serious R&B groove at the time when smooth jazz really needed more of that funk vibe, especially his song ‘Corner Pocket.’ I just loved his production! As a composer, Stevie Wonder’s music touches the hearts of people with lyrics that have strong meanings, and beautiful chords and melodies. And (guitarist) Norman Brown is the one that inspired me to want to be a performer when my parents took me to see him for my very first concert at The Bastille in Hanford, CA. “He gave me chills!” After crossing paths with Brown on the road, Jeanette co-wrote a song with him that became the title track of her fourth CD, Saxified. Brown recorded the song on his Grammy® nominated CD, 2417, with a different title, “The Best is Yet to Come” featuring Gerald Albright. “To have Gerald playing a melody that I wrote is so amazing,” Jeanette shares.

Jeanette has played major events from The Coombs River Bend Ranch Festival to festivals in Japan and London. She has performed as a side musician with Howard Hewett and Deniece Williams and has opened shows for greats ranging from smooth Jazz stars Kirk Whalum, Najee and The Rippingtons to R&B stars Babyface, Phil Perry and KEM. “I got a standing ovation opening for KEM,” Jeanette beams. “He came out to meet me and get my CD. His people said he never does that! That let me know my music does crossover.” The most special person to come along in the course of Ms. Harris’ career thus far was singer/songwriter Teena Marie, who hired her unheard/unseen in a destiny-streaked leap of faith totally befitting Jeanette’s life and beliefs. “Her trumpet player saw me at the 2010 NAMM Show and asked me if I wanted to play with Teena for a concert… in London! I couldn’t believe it. I got four (4) hours of sleep that night studying her music then drove to LA for the audition. I had to pull off the freeway when Teena called me personally to get my passport information. The band tested my improvising skills on a funk song and a ballad – then I was in! Teena finally arrived, gave me a big hug and away we went. She featured me in her last concerts playing sax on ‘I’m a Sucker for Your Love’ and ‘Portuguese Love,’ and flute on ‘Deja Vu.’ She was truly a blessing in my life. Teena taught me how to be a strong female leader. I will miss her always.” Now with her fourth and finest CD Summer Rain bowing with her signature Summer Rain perfume to match, Jeanette Harris is unquestionable the next “Starchild of the Saxophone” touching hearts with every breath she takes.

Lin Rountree

Lin Rountree aka The Soul-Trumpeter, is an accomplished recording artist, producer and live performer and is the next artist in line for the LEX Smooth Jazz Concert Series. With seven (7) solo projects, seventeen (17) Chart Topping Billboard singles [including three (3) #1 Hits] and numerous collaborations with some the industry’s top R&B/Contemporary Jazz artists to his credit he is fast becoming one (1) of the most renowned artists of his generation.

Lin began playing the trumpet in Alexandria, VA when he was just 11 years old and frequently attended music development programs at The Duke Ellington School for performing arts in Washington, D.C. Upon his graduation from High School, Lin was recruited into the Music program at Florida State University (FAMU) where he performed with the famed Marching 100 under the direction of William P. Foster and Dr. Julian White.

Shortly thereafter, Lin entered into the lifelong Brotherhood of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Lin credits his abilities to practice, prepare and perform to the training that he received at FAMU). Likewise, the school is also where he started to develop a deep appreciation for Jazz music and began studying some its mates and cites trumpeters: Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, and Tom Browne as huge influences on both his playing and writing styles. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from FAMU, he found his home in Detroit, MI where he formed a band and performed extensively throughout the region.

2004 saw the release of Lin’s debut album Groovetree on independent label BDK Records, which was met with international acclaim.  After releasing one (1) more album under BDK: Sumthin’ Good and another Soul-Tree, The Soul-Jazz Experience (self-released)… all to rave reviews, he was sought after and signed to major label, Trippin’ N Rhythm Records, where he subsequently wrote and co-produced four (4) more projects: Serendipitous, SoulFunky, Stronger Still, and his current album, Fluid featuring two (2) #1 Billboard Hit Singles “Fluid” and “Release.”

“His hip vibe and soulful sound find a perfect fit here and is sure to assist in bringing the cool factor back to this genre… the future looks bright for contemporary jazz as we continue to attract fresh young artists of this caliber and Lin’s star will surely help light the way.”

– Trippin/ N Rhythm Records.

Lin has been sought after to both perform and record with top Artists in various genres including: KEM, Dwele, Conya Doss, Tony Terry, Amp Fiddler, Deitrick Haddon, George Duke, Julian Vaughn, Mike Phillips, Tim Bowman, Nils, Darren Rahn, Nate Harasim, and U-Nam to name a few.  In 2012, Line appeared in the hit film ‘Sparkle’ starring Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Mike Epps, Celo Green and Derek Luke boosting his international profile.

All in all, Soul-Jazz Trumpeter Lin Rountree and his music represent a new direction in instrumental soul. A polished songwriter, producer and recording artist, an outstanding live performer, a consummate professional, and a thankful musician, Rountree is a leader amongst a new generation of Soul-Jazz artists.

Visit http://www.linrountreemusic.com for more information.

Jessy J.

Jessy J. is delighted to be the kick-off artist for the LEX Smooth Jazz Concert Series, which is designed to be an intimate evening of food, fellowship, and fantasy… wrapped around music.

Born Jessica Arellano in 1982 in Portland, OR and raised in southern California of Hispanic heritage, Jessy is grateful that her fans (specifically her Hispanic fans) have been inspired by her love of these musical roots. A jazz studies graduate from the University of Southern California, Jessy paved the way for her success with Michael Bublé and touring with Jessica Simpson, The Temptations and Michael Bolton.

Starting with the immediate #1 Billboard chart success of the title track from her debut album Tequila Moon, the powerhouse saxophonist cemented her rising stardom touring with contemporary jazz greats like Jeff Lorber, Gerald Albright, Euge Groove and Peter White. She can be seen regularly performing on the hit television competition shows “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “Dancing with the Stars,” and in more recent years has toured with Anita Baker, recorded with Robin Thicke and contributed as composer/performer to the album of two members of Chance the Rapper’s band – the GRAMMY® nominated Intellexual album and the Juju Exchange’s Exchange.

In conjunction with the release of BLUE, Jessy has embarked on a U.S. tour throughout the spring and summer and couldn’t be more excited that LEX is one (1) of the stops on her tour. She will also be releasing California Christmas Vol. 2 for the 2022 holiday season.

Visit https://www.jessyj.com for more information.

Stay tuned as we will be releasing the dates for the next season of the LEX Smooth Jazz Concert Series in early May 2023.

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