It was inevitable for Tia Fuller to become a musical prodigy. Having been reared by two jazz performers, it was only natural for the Colorado native to ultimately pursue a career in music. But while jazz influenced her musical upbringing, she aspired to craft the genre into something of her own.

According to Fuller, seeing her parents rehearse at their home with their band was the driving force that motivated her to start playing music.

“At age 3, I started playing the piano and at age 9, I started playing the flute,” Fuller said. “At 13, I decided I wanted to play the saxophone.”

After picking up the saxophone, Fuller realized she had found her true musical calling. Following high school, Fuller attended Spelman College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music. After receiving a master’s degree from the University of Colorado, Fuller relocated to New York where she became widely recognized in the jazz community. Crafting an all-female jazz band, Fuller and her quartet released two albums. Now, she and her band are celebrating the release of their current album, Decisive Steps.

“The growth that’s happened has really been a continuation and evolution of my life,” Fuller said, speaking on the growth from her first album. “To sum it up, I’m definitely more in a place to be comfortable with my strengths and also to recognize my weaknesses. And I’m learning to trust myself…The growth is definitely evident.”

Fuller also got the opportunity to tour with pop-superstar Beyoncé on her “I AM…Sasha Fierce” and “Beyoncé Experience” world tours.

“It’s been really amazing touring with Beyoncé,” Fuller said. I’ve learned a huge amount about the music business and how to function as a leader and I’ve learned also how to function as a band member. I’ve also learned the high work ethic that you have to have as an artist in order to get things done.”

With female jazz players coming few and far between, Fuller spoke of the challenges she initially faced as a female saxophonist.

“Early on , there were challenges,” Fuller said. “People automatically think that you can’t play and they base the way you look on what comes out your horn.”

Fuller added that on the business end, it was quite a challenge to get her point across without being perceived as a flirt to clients. But those issues are in the past.

“Now, I’m able to celebrate really being a woman and incorporating that into every aspect of my life, including playing music.”

While she has already accomplished many things since she began her musical career, Fuller still has a large amount of goals she would like to achieve.

“One of my goals is to be Grammy nominated,” Fuller said. “Another one of my goals is to start up a school to give back to the community and to give music back. More importantly, I want to take on the position of merging the pop and hip-hop industry with the jazz industry and making jazz more appreciated and known among the urban world. But for the most part, I want to continue to make great music.”


Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor