Behind the Scenes
In the 1960s, Chicago disc jockey Pervis Spann dubbed legendary singer Aretha Franklin the “Queen of Soul.” Yet Franklin isn’t the only artist who has generously contributed to the legacy of soul and R&B music; many women have earned honorific nicknames for their participation in the evolution of these genres. Tina Turner became widely known as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Patti Labelle as the “Godmother of Soul,” and Whitney Houston’s titles include the “Queen of R&B,” “Queen of Pop,” and “Queen of Ballads.” These women laid the foundation that inspired a whole new generation of female music royalty, like Alicia Keys (Queen of R&B) and Adele (Queen of Hearts), who are quick to credit their success to their predecessors.
The creative team from Schirmer Theatrical and Greenberg Artists sought to develop a symphonic experience fusing the powerful female soul singers of the past with the current reigning divas: a production meant to inspire, excite, and comfort. Queens of Soul premiered in February 2019 with the Rochester Philharmonic, featuring solo vocalists Brie Cassil, Melissa McMillan, and Kamilah Marshall.
Since its debut, Queens of Soul has been performed with orchestras throughout the US and Canada, including concerts in Toronto, Virginia, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Dayton, Dallas, Hartford, and Fort Worth.
- Proud Mary
written by John Cameron Fogerty, recorded by Tina Turner
- At Last
written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, recorded by Etta James
- New Attitude
written by Jonathan Gilutin, Bunny Hull, and Sharon Robinson, recorded by Patti LaBelle
- Midnight Train to Georgia
written by James Weatherly, recorded by Aretha Franklin
- Don’t Leave Me This Way
written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert, recorded by Thelma Houston
- Rolling in the Deep
written by Adele Laurie Blue Adkins and Paul Richard Epworth, recorded by Adele
- The Best
written by Holly Knight and Mike Chapman, recorded by Tina Turner
written and recorded by Alicia Keys
- I’m Every Woman
written by Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford, recorded by Whitney Houston
- What’s Love Got to Do With It
written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, recorded by Tina Turner
- I Wanna Dance With Somebody
written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, recorded by Whitney Houston
- Touch Me in the Morning
written by Michael Masser and Ronald Norman Miller, recorded by Diana Ross
- You Know I’m No Good
written and recorded by Amy Winehouse
written by Adele Laurie Blue Adkins and Gregory Allen Kurstin, recorded by Adele
written by Otis Redding, recorded by Aretha Franklin
- I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
written by Ronny Shannon, recorded by Aretha Franklin
- Freeway of Love
written by Narada Michael Walden and Jeffrey Cohen, recorded by Aretha Franklin
- (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman
written by Carole King, Gerald Goffin and Gerald Wexler, recorded by Carole King
ALL ARRANGEMENTS LICENSED BY SCHIRMER THEATRICAL, LLC
Queens of Soul is a co-production of Schirmer Theatrical and Greenberg Artists, part of their joint Symphonic Experience catalogue. Set list subject to change.
There’s no need to sugar coat it since her impressive credits speak for themselves. Shayna Steele’s colleagues praise her ability, her dedication and drive to perfecting her craft as a professional singer and knockout performer. With a voice that the London Jazz News says “unleashes enough voltage to light up the West End”, Shayna Steele has made her mark as an in-demand vocalist in the studio and on the stage.
At the age of 15, Broadway (Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Hairspray) and international vocalist Shayna Steele’s appearance on Ed McMahon’s Star Search was her first experience performing in front of a nationally televised audience. After losing by a 1/2 star, Steele returned to her hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi to finish high school and pursue a music degree before exposing herself to the cutthroat “reality” of the business. “I was embarrassed and defeated. I wanted nothing more than to go home and crawl in a hole.”
A completely unexpected call in 2005 would drop her squarely in the middle of a genre she had absolutely no experience with: Electronica. Hearing that Moby “needed a screamer” for a track off his new album Hotel, a mutual friend recommended Steele, resulting in the disc’s second single “Raining Again.” Two years later, she was back, laying down vocals for “Extreme Ways (2007)” – Moby’s theme song to The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy and Jason Bourne films – and in early 2008, “Disco Lies“, the first single off of Moby’s 2008 release Last Night. The song reached #1 on the US Billboard Dance charts and went on to be featured in J.J. Abram’s summer blockbuster Cloverfield and the movie The Backup Plan starring Jennifer Lopez. Her voice has remained highly in demand with vocals on the Hairspray film soundtrack, Sex and the City 2 soundtrack, NBC’s Smash, 2008 Summer Olympic highlights on BBC and the 2021 release of In the Heights (Motion Picture Soundtrack). Steele has made television guest appearances on HBO’s The Sopranos and she reprised her Broadway role with the “Dynamites” in NBC’s Hairspray Live.
After spending eight years as a Broadway ensemble member in shows such as Rent and Hairspray and six years in the background supporting artists like Bette Midler, Rihanna, and Kelly Clarkson, Shayna stepped out on her own with the release of her 3rd studio album Watch Me Fly following the huge success of her album Rise (Ropeadope Records) in 2015 which reached #3 on the U.S. iTunes jazz charts. Her self-penned song “Gone Under” from that same album was personally selected by Michael League of Snarky Puppy to be arranged for their Family Dinner, Volume 1 (Ropeadope Records). The song and Shayna’s performance was the first single to be released on the Grammy® Award-winning band’s album, which has now reached over 1.8 million views on YouTube to date.
Steele has appeared as a soloist and guest artist with over 40 symphony orchestras throughout North America. Her most recent solo concert Nothin’ but the Blues, written and conducted by Maestro Jeff Tyzik, is one of many highlights in her symphonic solo career. A Portland Press review of Shayna’s performance with the Portland Symphony Orchestra (Portland, ME) said her “…blues program ranked among the PSO’s best.” – Steve Feeney (May 24, 2021) Shayna recently returned to school 25 years later to finish what she started. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Music Studies at Berklee College of Music where she is currently on the Dean’s List. She continues to tour all over the world with her band playing her original music, is a regular guest artist with GRAMMY® Award winning trumpeter Chris Botti and is recording her 4th studio album set to release in 2023.
Kelly Levesque (pronounced Le-Vek) is a singer-songwriter from New York who began her career in the studio at the age of three with her musician-father recording her first notes. Kelly has had two Top Five Billboard Classical Crossover Albums and has performed as a soloist on leading international stages such as Royal Albert Hall, The Sydney Opera House, The Kennedy Center, Budokan, Staples Center, The White House, and Madison Square Garden. Kelly has also shared the stage with such artists as: Sting, Jamie Foxx, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Josh Groban, Michael Bolton, Smokey Robinson, John Legend, Patti LaBelle, and many more. Levesque has been honored to perform for International Royalty, four US Presidents and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
Born and raised in Portland, OR, Ashley was multitalented and artistic at a very young age, but singing was not a prevalent part of her life until her early teenage years. Ashley began singing solos and leading choir songs in her local church and in other choirs around town. Ashley’s ear began to develop rapidly. She was able to listen to music and not only single out the notes or tunes she would hear, but she was able to retain them and interpret them in her own unique way. This only enhanced her already impeccable ear and ability to translate music. She began to writer her own songs and create and arrange unique harmonies. Her creativity began to grow as she was blossoming and coming into her own. Once she began to be discovered by local artists, many doors soon began to open for her. She started her musical journey singing with artists such as Liv Warfield and Mike Phillips. These ventures led her to the late and great, Prince, who she began touring with, and eventually led to her becoming a member of the New Power Generation. Ashley now sings with Tyrese Gibson, Monica, and Jazmine Sullivan, and is spreading her wings and soaring as she embarks on a journey becoming, Ashley Jayy.
Eric Metzgar is an in-demand drummer and versatile collaborator who offers his musicianship to various jazz/pop artists and symphony orchestras worldwide. He has had the opportunity to play with numerous first-rate performers including Jeff Tyzik, Sutton Foster, Joe Locke, Jimmy Greene, Shayna Steele, Byron Stripling, and Delfeayo Marsalis.
Metzgar is a passionate educator deeply invested in music teaching and learning. Each summer, he teaches at the Cape Ann Jazz Workshop under the direction of saxophonist Alexa Tarantino. He maintains a private studio and serves as a clinician at grade schools and universities.
Metzgar holds a BM in Drum Set Performance and an MM in Music Teaching and Learning from the Eastman School of Music. He lives in New York City and tours frequently around the world.
Producer & Arranger
Producer & Booking Agent
Schirmer Theatrical is a concert production company specializing in the creation of symphonic experiences, film with live orchestra concerts, and theatrical productions.
Greenberg Artists is an artist management and concert production company striving to bring the highest level of talent and musical integrity to audiences around the world.