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Teacher, Jazz Artist Draws Inspiration From Family

Tia Fuller
Tia Fuller

Tia Fuller's students know her as a dedicated teacher, but to her fans, she's a soulful composer known for sultry performances on the jazz saxophone.

When she isn't traveling the country teaching masterclasses and lecturing, Fuller records her own compositions and performs with jazz luminaries such as the T.S. Monk Septet, the Don Byron Big Band and the Duke Ellington Big Band.

Fuller calls her sophomore album, Healing Space, a manifestation of her spirituality. It's also a testament to the bonds of a musical family.

Both of Fuller's parents are professional musicians. She began her musical education at age 3, studying piano and flute. She picked up the saxophone later, when she joined the family's band, called Fuller Sound.

The family affair continues with Healing Space, which features three songs composed by her older sister, Shamie Fuller-Royston.

In addition to her own recording and lecture circuit, Fuller has a glamorous gig touring in Europe this spring with Beyonce Knowles in her all-female R&B band.

Fuller's own quartet is all women, and she frequently performs with female groups. She finds it empowering.

"We are women in a male-dominated profession, and so we have that common thread that we are able to link to," says Fuller. "Other times, I think it's more metaphysical.... Whatever it is, it's special."

Fuller speaks with Liane Hansen about the inspiration for her new album, her musical influences and the experience of being a female jazz musician.

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