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Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell

Born in Tarrytown and raised in Buffalo, New York, Billy Mitchell tinkered with the piano as a child but did not get serious about music until he entered Morehouse College. While pursuing his social science degree, he joined the school jazz band and was soon playing gigs in and around Atlanta. In 1970 Mitchell moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career and was soon backing up such artists as Gloria Lynn, Ester Phillips, Randy Crawford,The Platters and Linda Hopkins, to name a few.

His first solo efforts, Blue City Jam (PAUSA-1984) and Night Theme (PAUSA-1987) captured the funky, urban flavored vibe of the Quiet Storm format just before the advent of smooth jazz, and Faces (Vista/Optimism-1988) and the similarly styled In Focus (Vista/Optimism1991) rose high on Billboard’s contemporary jazz charts and continue to receive international airplay. After a few colorful live excursions into swing and straight-ahead Live All Night Long (USA-1994), Cat’s Pajamas (USA-1996), Passion (USA-1998) Mitchell returns to the smooth jazz fold with his release, Never Give Up On Love (PRC- 2001), a soulful and dynamic session which combines Mitchell’s love for jammin’ R&B funk with a keen sense of romance and grace. 2005 has produced a collaboration of international flavors Minority Report-Classified (Vista) and the 2006 release of The Traveler (Vista) featuring the influences of Afro-Centric music. This year Billy has released a live concert performance CD, featuring some of Las top musicians. Entitled “Circle Of Friends,” it marks his return to the bop market, while featuring tunes from each genre.

The Billy Mitchell Group has appeared at many international festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Heineken World Music Festival, International Jazz Festival, Pori Jazz Festival, Sedona Jazz on the Rocks, and countless club appearances. His solo career has included appearances in film, most notably Clint Eastwood's "Bird." In 1999 America West Airlines awarded Mitchell the Jazz For The Next Generation Award for his continued work with young musicians. His work as a clinician has centered on his book, "The Gigging Musician" (Backbeat Books) based on interviews and his articles as a writer for Gig Magazine.

In 2002 Billy founded The Scholarship Audition Performance Preparatory Academy (SAPPA). This program is designed to increase participation of inner-city students in music and arts scholarship competitions. SAPPA has provided free music instruction for youth in the San Gabriel Valley and the free music workshops at Robinson Park, Victory Park and the Alkebu-lan Community Center continue year-round. In 2010 Mitchell received the KCET-Union Bank Community Heroes Award, as well as a Community Service Award from The Morehouse College Alumni Association.
For additional info on the SAPPA program: