Nashville-based group Oracle Blue blends elements of Neo-Soul, electronic music and #BAM (Black American Music) to create a newfangled soundscape with a sullen danceability. The group is fronted by producer Liz Kelley on guitar and effected vocals, supported by playback engineer Zach Douglas on trumpet and electronic sampling, and rounded out by a rotating cast in the rhythm section. Influences include artists ranging from Hiatus Kaiyote to Sylvan Esso, while creating a sonic culture that is uniquely their own.
The group began as a student jazz combo that met for class credit at Coastal Carolina University. During their time as students, the group received a DownBeat Student Music Award, shared the stage with artists Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), Jeff Coffin (The Dave Matthews Band), and often worked with Steve Bailey (Bass Department Chair, Berklee School of Music). In the summer of 2016 this group performed at Montreux, Umbria and Vienne jazz festivals in Europe.
Now performing and creating full-time, the group has released their debut album Gilded Kingdoms, which included several original tracks, as well as reimaginings of jazz standards “Don’t Explain” (Billie Holiday) and “On Green Dolphin Street” (Kaper). Bandleaders Douglas and Kelley self-manage and produce the band’s music, hiring various members for the rhythm section. Since 2018, they have held a residency and Nashville jazz club Rudy’s, and have toured between 26-48 weeks out of the year. Between the group’s improvisational jazz background and a varying talent pool behind them, this creates a unique experience for every performance.
Occasions of note include multiple opening performances for five-time GRAMMY Award winning artist Lalah Hathaway, endorsements from Traveler Guitar and Aston Microphones, a performance at NAMM, and a recent listing on DownBeat's "What to Stream This Week". The group has spent recent months collaborating on music with producer Justin Trout and bassist MonoNeon (Prince, Mac Miller, Ne-Yo), which is set to release in early 2021.
Vocalist, guitarist, producer and music technologist, Liz Kelley is often found wearing many hats. Most of her time is spent managing and touring as the front-person with Oracle Blue, but she has further expanded her horizons upon moving to Nashville, TN. Her recent work includes remote recording in her home studio, volunteer composition for a neuroscience firm, and sound design in generative music technology. She has released five albums between her projects, and has appeared as a guest with a countless number of other artists. Though most guest appearances are recorded with her personal recording setup, she has been hired for sessions in Brooklyn, NY, and at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, TN. Notable performances include Montreux, Vienne, and Umbria Jazz Festivals, multiple opening performances for Lalah Hathaway, and a performance on a NAMM Artist Stage. Ms. Kelley has also supported artists such as Victor Wooten, Becca Stevens, and Steve Bailey.
Her work in music technology recently expanded from producing to freelance work with companies on the forefront of emerging media. Notable collaborations include an endorsement from cutting-edge microphone design company Aston, sound design for a generative music technology firm specializing in artificial intelligence composition, and work as a composer for Neuroscape, a neuroscience firm which specializes in FDA-approved prescription video games.
As a performer, teacher, producer or technologist, Ms. Kelley creates with the hope that her work will one day help others.
Zach Douglas is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer/arranger, and playback engineer in Nashville, TN. Douglas began his career in the classical world as Third/Associate Principal Trumpet with the Hendersonville Symphony and the Brevard Philharmonic, but has recently expanded his work to include sound design, generative music technology, and live production. Somewhere between real-time trumpet harmonization and processing via Ableton Live, tracking as a session musician, or providing captivating live playback engineering for various artists, he finds his home.
Accolades include a DownBeat SMA, an award-winning performance with The International Trumpet Guild, an endorsement from Aston Microphones, multiple opening performances for Lalah Hathaway, and sharing the stage with artists such as Victor Wooten, Howard Levy, Becca Stevens, MonoNeon, Hootie and the Blowfish, The Drifters, Chairmen of the Board, and countless others. A founding member of Oracle Blue, he can most often be found on the road combining a sensibility for #BAM with the ever-evolving world of electronic music.
Ian Strobino has been playing drums since he was around 5 years old. By middle school, he was playing shows in the Greater Boston area, and regional and national music festivals by high school. He attended UMASS Amherst for two years before moving to Nashville in 2017, where he won a Downbeat student award as a part of their Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Since his move to Nashville, he has worked with nationally touring artists including the Broomestix, the Willies, Cosmic Collective, and countless others. When not playing drums, he enjoys playing chess, basketball, and eating Little Caesars.
JP Taylor began studying music in the 4th grade. (Fun fact, JP and Zach have been playing together since around then!) He attended UNC Greensboro and Coastal Carolina University where he graduated with a music performance degree. He plays piano, flute, trumpet, has a smooth ole singing voice that he sometimes spits through the talkbox, and (best of all) plays the flumpet. JP’s favorite genres of music are Jazz, R&B, and Hip Hop.
Most days you will likely find JP wearing flip-flops as he believes vehemently that closed-toed shoes are “foot prisons.”
Mckinley Devilbiss has been playing bass for around 15 years. He recently graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a Masters in Music Technology. Though his primary instrument in Oracle Blue is bass, McKinley will sometimes hop over to electric guitar to play/sing one of his original compositions with the band. His favorite styles to play are Reggae, Rock, Funk, and Jazz.
McKinley probably watches Spongebob a little bit too much, which may or may not fuel his jokes that slip out between songs at concerts.
Wade has been playing percussion since the age of 12 and continued his education at Coastal Carolina University. He has been a professional touring drummer for the past three years, performing anything from country music to hybrid electro-soul. Wade enjoys practicing, surfing, cooking, and playing music with friends.
Literally and figuratively speaking, Wade McMillan is a man who wears many hats. In his younger years ("younger" in this case meaning "much, much younger") he enjoyed the art of shag dancing, occasionally entering competitions. He is also a master at table tennis.