Linda Tillery - Vocalist, Percussionist, Producer, Lecturer, Cultural Historian
Linda Tillery is a veteran vocalist, percussionist, Grammy © nominated producer and cultural historian whose career has spanned 43 years. Her powerful, shimmering alto voice has been showcased in many of the Bay Area’s most popular bands and venues and she has had a profound influence on younger, Bay Area singers.Brought up in post World War II San Francisco, Linda was exposed to a diverse mix of music and cultures. At a very young age, she began listening to jazz, pop, r & b, rock and roll, latin jazz and European classical music. In middle school, she began her musical studies as a classical bassist and continued through the end of high school. At the age of 19, she exchanged her classical training as a bassist for the role of lead singer in the rock and soul band Loading Zone, that defined itself with a classical Southern soul sound inspired by the Stax Records rhythm section and Memphis horns. After departing the Loading Zone, Linda became a founding mother of the women's music movement during the seventies. During this time she developed her skills as both drummer and producer, lending her talents to recordings by such artists as Meg Christian, Holly Near, Teresa Trull and Chris Williamson.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Tillery branched out in many directions, recording three albums under her own name while becoming a central figure in the emerging genre of women’s music as staff producer, vocalist and drummer for Olivia Records. Her second solo recording Linda Tillery, won a Bammy (Bay Area Music Award) for Best Independently Produced Album‚and Tillery was twice named‚Outstanding Female Vocalist‚at the Bay Area Jazz Awards. Linda also began a long association with the multi-talented Escovedo family, Oakland’s reigning, percussion dynasty. It was during this time that her interest in percussion became more than a passing fancy. As lead singer of the Coke Escovedo Band, Linda was exposed to the brilliant playing of bandleader Coke and his awesomely talented niece, Sheila E. She became a member of two seminal, soul/jazz ensembles – “Kick” and “Rhythmus 21.” Led by Oakland guitarist Ray Obiedo, both bands boasted all star lineups - members included Mark Soskin, Bonnie Hayes, Sheila E, Andy Narrell, Ron Stallings, Marc van Wageningen, Paul van Wageningen and many others. On Monday nights, Linda shared lead vocals with younger brother Calvin Tillery, in the house band at “Slim’s” nightclub.
In the nineties, Tillery met vocal wonder kind Bobby McFerrin, and studied vocal improvisation with Mcferrin for two years. She later became a founding member of Bobby McFerrin’s vocal ensemble, Vociestra. This began a deeper commitment to the study of the voice and a cappella performance. With Voicestra she toured Brazil, Japan and the USA, often sharing the stage with musical giants like Chick Corea, Lyle Mays, Jack de Johnette and YoYo Ma.
In 1992, Linda formed the Cultural Heritage Choir in order to perform the unique and vital musical forms of African American roots music.. Linda has studied the historic beginnings of Black music through Work Songs, Spirituals, Field Hollers, Children’s Play Songs, Moans and Ring Shouts. Since its inception, the “CHC” has brought their musical mix to audiences in 22 different countries.Tillery has appeared on over 90 recordings by such artists as Santana, Boz Scaggs, Holly Near, Huey Lewis & The News, Vicki Randle, Pete Escovedo, The Whispers, John Santos, Maria Muldaur, Taj Mahal, Eric Bibb and many more. She has taught classes and residencies at Stanford University, Williams College, The University of Utah, The Pacific School of Religion. The University of Maryland and Spelman College in Atlanta. She has conducted workshops for the The Muse Choir of Cincinnati, The Oakland Symphony Chorus, The Concert Choir at Univ. of Cincinnati and the MIT Concert Choir. Ms. Tillery was a resident artist at Stanford University for the winter quarter of 2007 and a three day residency at Williams College in Massachsettes that same year. In 2010 she taught a six week course at the California Institute of Integrl Studies and will be teaching this Spring at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.