Marcus Anthony Shelby

Marcus Anthony Shelby is a bandleader, composer, arranger, bassist, educator, and
activist who currently lives in San Francisco, California. Over the past 25 years he has
built a diverse biography as a composer. His work and music has focused on sharing
the history, present, and future of African American lives, on social movements in the
United States of America, and on early childhood music education. In 1990, Marcus
Shelby received the Charles Mingus Scholarship to attend Cal Arts and study
composition with James Newton and bass with Charlie Haden. From 1990-1996, Shelby
was bandleader of Columbia Records and GRP Impulse! Recording Artists Black/Note.
Currently, Shelby is an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and
the Artistic Director of the Marcus Shelby Orchestra. In 2013, Shelby received a
commission from the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival to compose “Beyond the Blues: A
Prison Oratorio”
an original composition for big band orchestra about the “Prison
Industrial Complex,” which will premier September 2015. Shelby was awarded a 2009
Black Metropolis Research Consortium Fellowship in Chicago for Summer 2009 to
conduct research for his commission to compose “Soul of the Movement”—a musical
suite on MLK and the Civil Rights Movement. Shelby was also a 2006 Fellow in the
Resident Dialogues Program of the Committee for Black Performing Arts at Stanford
University to conduct research for his commission to compose “Harriet Tubman” —a
musical suite based on the life of freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman. Shelby has also
worked extensively in Bay Area Theater, Film, and Dance on a range of productions,
such as composing scores for Anna Deveare Smith’s new play “School to Prison Pipeline”
(2014), choreographer Joanna Haigood’s dance theater work “Dying While Black and
(2014), Margo Hall’s plays “Bebop Baby” (2013) and “Sonny’s Blues” (2008), the
Oakland Ballet’s “Ella” (2004), Robert Moses Kin’ Dance Company (2000), The Pacific
Boy Choir (2009), The San Francisco Girls Choir (2013), The Oakland Youth Chorus
(2014), and many other productions over the past 19 years in the San Francisco Bay
Area. Since 2002, Shelby has worked with the Equal Justice Society and is currently
commissioned to create a musical theater work with choreographer Joanna Haigood
and director Stephen Anthony Jones about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Shelby also
has arranged for, toured, and conducted the Count Basie Orchestra featuring Ledisi,
performed and recorded with Tom Waits, and received the City Flight Magazine 2005
award as one of the “Top Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area”.
Shelby is active in music education and currently teaches at The Community Music
Center, Old Adobe Elementary School, St. Paul’s Middle School, and the Stanford Jazz
Workshop. Shelby has also led many of the San Francisco Jazz Festival Family Matinee
Concerts, often with children’s book author Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket). In March
2013, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee appointed Shelby to the San Francisco Arts
Commission where he serves on the Community Arts Grants and Education Committee
and the Street Artists Committee.

Bio Download (PDF)

/Current _____/
*Artist in Residence at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
*Artist in Residence at the Adobe School
*Arts Commissioner for the City of San Francisco
*Artistic Director of the Marcus Shelby Orchestra
*Original Stage Score for “Isfahan Blues” (premiers May 2015); African American Cultural Center
*Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio (premieres September 2015); Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

2014-Present- Old Adobe School; Petaluma, CA Elementary; K-6;
2014-Present- Juvenile Justice Center; SF, CA
2013-Present- Community Music Center; SF, CA
2001-Present- Stanford University; Stanford Jazz Workshop
2003-Present- Jazz Camp West Faculty
2007-2013- Rooftop Elementary; K-8; SF, CA;
2003-2007- Young Musicians Program; Berkeley, CA;
1999-2004- San Francisco State, CA

/Workshops and Lectures/
“Beyond the Blues: Ending the Prison Industrial Complex”; “Harriet Tubman and the Blues”; “Women and the Blues”, “Green and Blues”, “MLK and the Blues”, “The Legacy of
Duke Ellington”; “The Legacy of Louis Armstrong”, “Port Chicago Blues”

/Awards and Honors/
2008–Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award for Best Original Music Score, “Sonny’s Blues”; 2005–City Flight Magazine-Top 10 Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area for Arts and Culture; 2005-Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Best Music, Savage Jazz Dance Company; 2000-Dean Goodman Choice Awards for Excellence in Bay Area Theatre for Theatrical Score for “Trail of Her Inner Thigh”; 1999-Theater Circle Critics Award for Best Musical Score for “Hellhound on my Trail”; 1999-California Music Award Nomination for /Best Jazz Artist 1998/1999-Bay Guardian Award for /Best Jazz Band/; 1999-S.F. Weekly Wammie Award /Best Jazz Musician/1998 ASCAP Popular Award for Songwriters and Composers;1991-Charles Mingus Scholarship; Cal Arts; 1991-John Coltrane Young Artists Competition (with Black/Note)

/Grant Awards/
2015 Map Fund Grant Award
2011 The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Composer Grant
2009 Black Metropolis Research Consortium Research Fellowship, Chicago
2008 Center for Cultural Innovation, Marketing and Distribution Planning & Implementation Grants
2006 Stanford University, Committee on Black Performing Arts “Resident Dialogue” Artist Fellowship
2005 Haas Foundation, Creative Work Fund, “Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land”
2002 Theater Communications Group Resident Artist Grant
2001-2003 Meet The Composer “New Residency” Program
2000 Haas Foundation, Creative Work Fund for New Work, “The Lights”

/Private Commissions/
2013 “Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio”; Yerba Buena Gardens Festival; (premieres September 2015)
2013 “Civil Rights at 50” commission from the Equal Justice Society; “Civil Rights Act 1964”
2013 APICC Commission for “Gwha Guy: Crossing the Street”; collaboration with artist Flo Oy Wong; ODC
2011 Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Commission for “Green and Blues: A Natural History of San Francisco”
2011 Equal Justice Society Commission for “Dying While Black and Brown” ballet with Joanna Haigood
2009 Cynthia Ross, “Calvin Jones”; tribute to painter Calvin Jones
2009 San Mateo County “Martin Luther King Day” Committee Commission for “MLK”
2007 DeYoung Museum and “Jazz at Intersection” Commission “Peaceable Kingdom”
2002 Equal Justice Society Commission “Port Chicago”

/Theatrical Scoring/
2015/ School to Prison Pipeline/ by Anna Deavere Smith; Berkeley Rep, Berkeley, CA
2015/ Isfahan Blues/ by Torange Yeghiazarian; Golden Thread Theater Company; (premiers May 2015)
2014/ School to Prison Pipeline/ by Anna Deavere Smith; Berkeley Rep, Berkeley, CA
2013/ Bebop Blues, / The Z Space; musical by Margo Hall; San Francisco, CA
2011/ Twelfth Night/dir. Peter Calendar; African American Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA
2008/ Sonny’s Blues/ dir. Margo Hall; Word for Word, San Francisco, CA
2005/ Fear of a Brown Planet /by Paul Flores; Youth Speaks Literary Organization, San Francisco, CA
2003/ Wheel of Fortune/ by John Steppling, Campo Santo Theater Company, San Francisco, CA
2002 /The Lights/, by Howard Korder, dir. Val Hendrickson; Intersection for the Arts,San Francisco, CA
2000 /Hellhound On My Trail/ by Denis Johnson, Campo Santo Theater Company, San Francisco, CA
1999 /Simpatico/, by Sam Shepard, Campo Santo Theater Company, San Francisco, CA
1998 /Trail of Her Inner Thigh/, by Erin Cressida Wilson, Campo Santo Theater, San Francisco, CA
1998 /Suicide in B Flat/, by Sam Shepard, Slim’s, San Francisco, CA
1998 /King Lear/, dir. Val Hendrickson; 450 Geary Studio Theater, San Francisco, CA
1997 /Suicide in B Flat/, by Sam Shepard, dir. Val Hendrickson; Justice League, San Francisco, CA

/Film Scoring/
2011 “Ernest Bean”; archival home video footage commissioned by the Oakland Museum
2003 “Maladaptive,” Adam Chin Director
2002 “Ralph Ellison: An American Hero,” Avon Kirkland Production, PBS
2001 “King of the Bingo Game,” Elise Robertson, adaptation of Ralph Ellison short story, PBS
2000 “Poetic License,” Directed by Dave Yanofsky, Production, PBS
1998 “Park Day,” Directed by Sterling Macer, Jr., Blockbuster Pictures

/Ballet and Dance/
2011 Equal Justice Commission for “Dying While Black and Brown; Zaccho Dance Theater Company
2005 Oakland Ballet, Commission for “Ella,” Donald McKayle
2001 Oakland Ballet, Commission for “Un Faux Pas,” Reginald Savage
2000 Robert Moses’ Kin -“Collaboration 2000” Robert Henry Johnson, Sara Shelton Mann
1998-2004 Musical Director, Savage Jazz Dance Company
1993-2006 Musical Director, Jazz Antiqua Music and Dance Ensemble

Zellerbach Hall UC Berkeley; San Francisco Jazz Festival/ Monterey Jazz Festival/ Montreal Jazz Festival/
Kuumbwa Jazz Center/ Yoshi’s Jazz Club/Half Note-Athens, Greece/Dizzie’s NYC/North Sea Jazz Festival/Vienne
Jazz Festival/Yerba Buena Arts Center/San Francisco Museum of Modern Art/Paramount Theater/Stanford Jazz Festival; Blue Note (NYC and Tokyo);