Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Ellis, Sydney

Ellis, Sydney, singer, songwriter; b. Red Jacket, West Virginia, 22 October 1947. Her family moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1955 where Sydney and her 3 brothers and 1 sister grew up.

Sydney began singing in the church in the youth choir. That is where her passion for singing began. Sydney married in 1966 and had 5 children from 1967 to 1973. Her first husband refused to let her pursue a career in singing. In 1985 Sydney divorced her first husband and in 1986 met her second husband. In 1989 Sydney mentioned to her second husband that she always wanted to be a singer and why she had not worked towards that. Her second husband (Kevin) told her, "No one can tell you what you can or cannot do." With that, Sydney fixed in her mind to become a professional singer.

In 1991, after moving to Southern California, Sydney participated in her first jam session. At the end of 1991 Sydney received money for singing for the very first time in her life. In 1992 Sydney began fronting blues bands all over Southern California. In 1993 Sydney formed her own band called Sydney Ellis and her "Yes Mama Band". Also in 1993 Sydney and her second husband formed "Black Wallet Publishing" and "Black Wallet Records" as a trademark for her song writing and music publishing. In 1993 Sydney released her first published recordings in the form of an experimental product to see if she could actually sell at her gigs. The 2 song cassette sold well enough for Sydney and Kevin to begin rehearsals and development of a full length CD. In 1994 after encountering blatant racism at clubs and radio stations in Southern California, Sydney and Kevin left the United States and moved to Europe.

Sydney has been based in Europe ever since enjoying a successful career, performing in 14 countries so far, at over a thousand international music festivals and venues from the Arctic Circle in Norway to the gateway to Asia in Kiev. From Ireland to the Swiss and Austrian Alps. Sydney currently offers music programs and band formats ranging from a duo with piano to an 8 piece orchestra performing, "music from my cultural heritage," Blues, Classic Jazz, Traditional Gospel and Spirituals. Sydney is now the Grandmother of 6, has been married to her second husband for 17 years, and hopes to sing every day for the rest of her life.

Other than a vocal breathing class Sydney attended at a local community college in Southern California, Sydney has no formal training.

Goin' Home (1994); Amazing Grace (1995); Ask A Woman Who Knows (1998); Tug River (2003)

Appeared on numerous local TV shows in Europe. Performed live on national TV in Kiev, Ukraine; Klapida, Lithuania; Nancy, France. In 2002 Sydney authored and presented an essay on "The Cultural Origins Of Jazz" at the University in Strasbourg, France.

Contact information:
Phone ++49-932-192-0061

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