Born: San Francisco, CA – September 2, 1948
Linda Tillery is a Grammy© nominated vocalist, producer, percussionist, arranger and cultural historian. Since she first appeared on stage at the tender age of 19, she has been considered as one of the Bay Area’s most soulful and dynamic singers. During these early years, Linda and The Loading Zone shared bills with some of the biggest names in rock music; Cream, Iron Butterfly, Vanilla Fudge, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Albert King, B.B. King, Santana, Taj Mahal, Mother Earth, Jeff Beck and a long list of Rock and Roll luminaries.
During the 1980s, Tillery branched out in many directions, recording three albums under her own name while becoming a central figure in the Oakland’s R&B and “funk“ scene and the emerging genre of Women’s Music.“ 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.
During the 1980’s, Linda began a long association with the Escovedo family, one of Oakland, California’s percussion dynasties. It was during this time that her interest in percussion became more than a passing fancy. As lead singer for the Coke Escovedo Band, Linda was exposed to the brilliant playing of bandleader Coke Escovedo and his brillianty talented niece, Sheila Escovedo. Under the tuteledge of Coke and Sheila, Tillery began her studies in Afro-Cuban percussion.
In the 90’s Ms. Tillery became a founding member of Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra. where she began serious study of improvisation and vocal performance. She toured with Voicestra for over five years while in the Bay Area she sang regularly with such club bands as Rhythmus 21 (with Ray Obiedo), the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra and the Solid Senders.
In addition to her performing credits Tillery has appeared on over 70 recordings by such artists as Carlos Santana, Boz Scaggs, Pete and Sheila Escovedo, Taj Mahal, Vicki Randle, Eric Bibb, Mickey Hart, Bobby McFerrin, Linda Ronstadt, Huey Lewis & The News, The Whispers, Holly Near, Turtle Island String Quartet and Keith Terry’s percussion ensemble, Crosspulse.
In 1992, Tillery formed the 6 member Cultural Heritage Choir – a percussion driven, vocal ensemble. In the Cultural Heritage Choir, Ms. Tillery plays Djembe and Cajon, which are driven by the dynamic conga playing of Afro-Venezuelan percussionist, Simon Monserrat. Always striving for authenticity in their performances, the Cultural Heritage Choir studied Afro-Cuban folkloric music with pianist/composer Rebeca Mauleon and Linda’s childhood friend, percussionist John Santos.
An articulate and provocative speaker, Linda has presented master classes and residencies at Stanford University, Williams College, Utah State University, MIT Concert Choir (Boston, MA), University of Cincinnati, Santa Clara University (CA), Spelman College (Atlanta, GA), Christian Studies Spirituality Conference (Toronto), The New Spirituals Projects (Oakland, CA and Cincinnati, OH), Universal Gospel Choir (Vancouver, B.C.), The Spirituals Project (Denver, CO), St. Mary’s College (Moraga, CA), Oakland Symphony Chorus, City Soul Choir (Vancouver, B.C.), Pour Pre Noir Gospel Choir (Gap France),
She has metamorphosed into an authority on the African Diaspora in song. Her current mission is to help preserve and share the rich musical traditions of African American roots music.
In 2014 and 2015 respectively, Ms. Tillery received a Community Leadership Award from the San Francisco Foundation and was honored by the Women’s Cancer Research Center as a Compassionate Healer.