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Grammy-Nominated Alto Saxophonist Tia Fuller Launches The August Wilson African-American Cultural Center's Uhuru Jazz Series with Her Quintet for Two Shows, 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm on November 12
(Published: November 02, 2022)

Tickets are $28.00 and On Sale Now at www.awaacc.org

PITTSBURGH, PA, October 25, 2022 - Colorado-born, Boston-based alto saxophonist, composer and educator Tia Fuller has been one of the most delightful and distinguished musicians on the jazz scene for two decades. She famously worked and toured with Beyoncé for four years, gigged with a wide range of artists from Aretha Franklin to Esperanza Spalding and provided the saxophone sound and was the model for the character, Dorothea Williams in the Oscar-winning animated Disney film, Soul. On Saturday, November 12, 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm, Fuller brings her towering talents to the August Wilson African-American Cultural Center (AWAACC), 980 Liberty Ave., to inaugurate the new Uhuru Jazz Series.

Named for the Swahili word that translates to "freedom," the Uhuru Jazz Series pays homage to jazz as the embodiment of freedom, improvisation, discovery, liberation, and promise. Supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the series features monthly performances at the AWAACC. The series continues with multi award-winning violinist Regina Carter, who presents her latest project, Gone in a Phrase of Air, on Wednesday, December 14. Other concerts in the series include vocalist Vanisha Gould, who returns to AWAACC on Friday, February 10, 2023 after thrilling fans in two sets at this year's Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, and the multi-instrumentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow throwing down her dynamic blend of jazz, R&B, hip hop, electronica, rock and funk on Thursday, June 22.

To celebrate the Uhuru Jazz Series and its powerful meaning, AWAACC commissioned Pittsburgh visual artist Makeba Rainey to create an original work of art to complement each concert. Rainey says her "art practice centers marginalized voices within the Black community to provide a fuller, more nuanced view of the whole community and empower individuals by giving them autonomy over how their stories are told thus providing alternative potentialities for Black Liberation."

Fuller comes to the AWAACC with her quicksilver quintet featuring: pianist and sister Shamie Fuller-Royston, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Late Show with Stephen Colbert bassist Endea Owens, drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr. and trombonist Lexi Hammer. Fuller and company perform selections from her 2018 CD, Diamond Cut, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Jazz Instrumental Album, and her forthcoming recording, Intersections, a funk/groove-oriented project. "I'm celebrating the intersections as we move through life," Fuller told The Bay State Banner. "Looking, too, for more intersections and greater abundance."

Growing up, Fuller had an abundance of art and love. Born and reared in Aurora, Colorado by musician parents, bassist Fred and Ethiopia, a singer and educator in the Denver Public School District. Fuller grew up listening to Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker, and started playing classical piano at the age of three and studied the instrument for 10 years. She started playing the flute at the age of nine, took up the saxophone, and got interested in jazz in high school. In 1998, she graduated Magna Cum Laude at Spelman College in Atlanta (where she studied with the great saxophonist/educator Joe Jennings), earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Colorado-Boulder with a Master of Music degree, Jazz Pedagogy and Performance in 2000.

Fuller moved to New York in 2001 and gained valuable experience working with a wide variety of jazz stars including the Duke Ellington Big Band, Charli Persip, Don Byron, Ralph Petersen, Jon Faddis, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Heath, Gerald Wilson, Sean Jones, Nancy Wilson and Don Braden. In 2006, Fuller joined Beyoncé's all-female band and worked with her for four years.

"One of the main things I learned from watching her work - as a performing artist and a musician - is that she's very, very meticulous in the studio, and is not afraid to strive for perfection," Fuller told Ebony.com. "She takes the time to do what it is she needs to do to perfect the track. So that really taught me about paying attention to the minutiae in the studio, and not being afraid to really move forward and elevate that level of perfection." Fuller released her first recording, Pillar of Strength in 2005, followed by Healing Space, Decisive Steps and Diamond Cut.

With an extensive background in education, Fuller is Professor at Berklee College of Music and leads eight ensembles; she is artistic director of the Ensemble Department at Berklee College of Music and leads a number of groups including the Esperanza Ensemble and The Berklee Beyoncé Ensemble. Beginning in the fall of 2022, Fuller will participate in an exchange program between Berklee and her alma mater, Spelman College.

Fuller's numerous awards include winning the JazzTimes Jazz Critics Poll for Best Alto Saxophonist in 2018, and Downbeat Critic's Poll-Rising Star two years in a row in the categories of Soprano Sax in 2014 and Alto Sax and Flute in 2013. In 2018, Fuller received the Benny Golson Award from Howard University; the Distinguished Alumnae Award as the commencement speaker at the University of Colorado at Boulder; and was appointed as the 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, CA.

Tickets for each set is $28.00 and are available here. For more information on the Uhuru Jazz Series and all events at AWAACC, please visit www.awaacc.org.

The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a non-profit cultural organization located in Pittsburgh's cultural district that generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora, the non-profit organization welcomes more than 119,000 visitors locally and nationally. Through year-round programming across multiple genres, such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform for established and emerging artists of color whose work reflects the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled, and which still resonate today. www.awaacc.org 
 
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