GRAMMY-Award-winning Nicholas Payton is widely considered one of the greatest artists of our time. Hailed as a virtuoso before he was even out of high school, his maturation and talent has earned him praise and accolades, as well as insured his place in musical history.
When he was barely in his 20s, Nicholas Payton made his major-label recording debut as a leader with From This Moment (Verve). Since then, Payton has consistently committed himself to developing his distinct voice.
He appears in the final episode of HBO’s Treme as an actor and musician performing his composition, “The Backward Step.”
Nicholas is a Distinguished Artist and Visiting Lecturer at Tulane University. He has taught master classes, clinics and workshops at over 40 institutions, including Berklee College of Music, The Connecticut Forum (with Beverly Sills, Bobby Weir and Trey Anastasio), Cornell University, Institute of Superior Arts (Havana, Cuba), Loyola University, Northwestern University, Oberlin College & Conservatory, Skidmore College, Stanford University, Thelonious Monk Institute, et. al.
A highly sought-after drummer, John “Lil’ John” Roberts thrives in the industry as the ultimate heartbeat.
John, native of Philadelphia, quickly became noted as a child prodigy playing alongside Christian McBride and Joey Defranceso at the age 16. The trio was part of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, a project created and directed by Wynton Marsalis, comprised of the country’s 22 best young jazz musicians. In 2020 the trio had a Reunion Residency including Kirk Rosenwinkel at the Blue Note.
Under full scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in 1991, Lil’ John studied for 2 years and started his touring career with Hip Hop Artists DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith). From there, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he started recording and touring with Dionne Farris, Xscape, Monica, The Goodie MOB, and Joi. At the request to fill in for Jonathan Moffet, John began touring with Janet Jackson at the age of 23 and continued to tour with her for two decades.
His television credits include: houseband drummer for the Monique Show, Queen Latifah Show, Ray Charles Tribute (Live at the Staples Center), Tribute to Quincy Jones, American Idol, American Music Awards, Black Music Honors Show, MTV Music Awards, Billboard Awards, Image Awards, Trumpet Awards, VH1 Fashion Awards, BET Soultrain Awards, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Chris Rock Show, Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, Good Morning America, Good Day Atlanta, Jimmy Kimmel, Arsenio Hall, The View, Saturday Night Live, Pre Grammy Show, several seasons of BET’s Sundays Best, Apollo Live, BET Comicview, Stevie Wonder’s “A House Full of Toys” Tribute and more.
These two musical greats will be accompanied by The Senators, including Phil Davis and Tres Gilbert.