Born in Tyler, Texas and raised in Houston, Theresa Grayson began playing piano and sax (among other woodwind instruments) in fourth grade and enjoyed an encouraging stream of accolades for her outstanding musicianship throughout grade school. Building a musical foundation on regular performances at church beginning at age 12, she further honed her musical skills and developed her passion under the tutelage of internationally known instructors/musicians Chuck Nolan, Dr. Woody Witt and Dr. Rod Cannon of Sam Houston State University and North Texas University—where she earned a degree in music performance and jazz studies. Grayson continued her education with two master’s degrees with an emphasis in music education and leadership. She plans to continue her studies to earn her doctorate degree. She has been a renowned music educator since the early 2000s, first as an orchestra director at a middle school and currently teaching music at an elementary school in Ft. Bend County.
After drawing on her extensive church music background to record her inspirational instrumental debut It’s All About You, Grayson –a longtime first call side musician – tapped renowned gospel and jazz pianist and multi-instrumentalist Terence Fisher—a musical mainstay in both Shreveport and Houston—to help her take her urban jazz game to the next level. On her second solo release, Live2Love, which spawned the successfully charting radio singles “Afterthoughts” and a cover of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”, the multi-talented Grayson showcased her versatile skills on soprano and tenor sax and flute along with her soulful lead vocals on several tracks. The album blended everything from gospel, pop and R&B to blues, calypso, Latin and classical music into her unique brand of cutting edge contemporary jazz.
Expanding her palette of world music colors considerably, Grayson draws on her 10 years of teaching elementary school students about music from around the world – and the school’s unique celebration “International Day” – to create a freewheeling, global fusion vibe full of exciting cultural explorations and musical surprises on her latest full-length collection World Blue. Playing soprano and tenor sax and flute and singing – and inviting high profile guests like saxophonist Marion Meadows and violinist Michael Ward to jam along – Grayson fashions excursions to Asia, Africa, India, Latin America and Europe. She also explores multiple facets of jazz, from contemporary urban to straight-ahead trio jazz. Complementing ten originals, she creates powerhouse covers of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (the first single), the Latin pop standard “Sway” and a dramatic, thematically appropriate re-imagining of “We Are The World”, featuring a 40 piece children’s choir and an 80 piece adult church choir.
While embarking on her solo career, the Texas based saxtress has performed in her hometown of Houston and in most of the state’s major cities with her own band and two renowned cover ensembles. She’s since shared the stage and opened for notable contemporary jazz stars like Peter White, Marion Meadows, Mindi Abair and Ronnie Laws as well as vocalists Michael Bolton and Will Downing. Over the years, Grayson has performed at the Third Annual Soul Fest in Austin, Texas, Beaumont Jazz Festival, Red Cat Jazz Festival, Idyllwild Jazz Festival, Zachary Breaux Jazz Festival, Women In Jazz, AFRAM Festival, Baltimore, MD, Jeff Majors Homeless Tour, One Love Cruise, Yolanda Adams Wellness Tour, Lamp Lighters Awards, KHOU Great Day Houston, Channel 26 Fox Rocks Live, Music World’s House of Dereon, Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel Artist Showcase, The House of Blues and Houston International Jazz Festival.
Since the release of Live2Love in 2013, she has also performed at the KTSU Jazz Appreciation concert (Texas Southern University), Red Cat Jazz Festival at Moody Gardens in Galveston (on a bill with Hiroshima, Mike Phillips and Abair), Jokes and Jazz in Dotham, AL and two events for Organo Gold in St. Louis. Grayson has also played at Sweetie Pie’s in St. Louis, which has been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network. In addition, she performed at the wedding of former Miss USA Crystle Stewart and international model Max Sebechts.
From the socially conscious, spoken word intro on the jazzy grooving opening track “Atmosphere” through the multi-cultural fusion of the closer “World Roll Kall” (featuring chanting vocals, Eastern instrumentation, African percussion, Latin guitar, violin and tropical vibes), Theresa Grayson devotes herself to a mission to make World Blue a true global journey celebrating the multi-cultural magic of music. Her exciting and inspiring “world tour” begins with stops in Eastern Asia, with “Crane’s Dance,” an atmospheric piece featuring a synth koto and lead flute melody; France, for “Je t’adore”, a lush, soulful and exotic French language ballad sung beautifully by Grayson; and India, for a sensual swirl of soulful soprano sax, percussive intensity and hypnotic chants. After the funky, in the pocket urban jazz tune “Playing with Jas” and a free-spirited, mystical and muscular twist on “Radioactive”, the saxophonist jets to Africa for the heavily soundscaped, jungle chant driven “Sisi Ni Moja,” which floats her whimsical soprano sax melody over deep native grooves.
Next, she’s out for some tropical fun, splashing into salsa-land for a rousing cover of “Sway” (originally popularized by Dean Martin) and heading down to Jamaica for the soulful reggae-jazz romp “The Sun Still Shines”. The thumping, discofied Euro-tech jazz tune “Tranz4Nations” emerged from the Crystal Stewart wedding, when it was suggested that Grayson play sax over the DJ’s heavy beats. After the graceful and elegant soprano driven jazz quartet ballad “Twenty 5 Seven”, Grayson wraps World Blue with a bang, preceding “World Roll Kall” by taking on the Quincy Jones role (along with producer Terence Fisher) to oversee the choirs and multi-textured instrumentation on “We Are The World.”
“I hereby nominate Theresa Grayson for global music ambassador! With World Blue, the multi-talented composer, saxophonist, singer and flutist expands upon the ambition of her multi-genre breakthrough Live2Love with a powerful, compelling set of songs that redefines the often-overused phrase “musical journey”. While offering just enough jazz and a recent pop/rock cover to remind us of her musical roots, she stamps a passport for a whirlwind of continents and cultures that allow her to embark on fun and inspiring, not to mention wildly unexpected, travel adventures. More than just a lively, eclectic musical sojourn, World Blue is highly spiritual, celebrating our common humanity while accenting our diverse approaches to music based on cultural influences. Speaking her mission statement about practicing more patience, kindness and love for one another at the start, she spends the next hour showing just how important music is in helping us achieve this. With dynamic production and instantly infectious songs throughout, it’s nothing short of a global fusion masterpiece.” – Jonathan Widran
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Theresa plays exclusive with SAX DAKOTA Straight Tenor Sax model: SDTS-1022