The Gritz Band is more of an eclectic super-group than your average hip-hop band. Known by some as Erykah Badu’s band. Founded by Band Leader RC WIlliams in 2004, the group is made up of a diverse mix of musicians from across Texas and whose repertoire includes, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Soul Music. : RC “Rceeezy” Williams, keyboards/Vocals; Cleon Edwards, Drums; TaRon Lockett, percussion; Braylon “Brother B” Lacy, bass; Claudia Melton, vocals; and Jah Born, MPC (drum machine).
RC Williams is a maestro. He has a natural talent for making music and a work ethic that is second to none. He understands all the intricate pieces of the narrative and is able to weave them together seamlessly. He does so regardless of the genre of music. And he gives a powerful performance if the crowds consist of thousands or a circle of close friends.
Raised by a family of professional musicians in Dallas TX RC attended the prestigious Booker T. Washington High School. A school world renowned for producing extraordinary talent, he focused on Jazz and synthesizer combinations. Over time his dedication and effort led to an opportunity to tour with internationally celebrated gospel group, God’s Property.
That experience opened the doors for Williams to tour and perform alongside such great artist as Erykah Badu, Snoop Lion, Prince, Jill Scott, Queen Latifah, The Roots, Bootsy Collins, Pharell Williams, Mos Def, and Common, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Dwele, Raheem Devaughn, Bilal, Roy Ayers, Roy Hargrove, just to name a few. As well as being a touring musician Williams has also received multiple GRAMMY® nominations for producing and writing.
Currently he is working with his group Tha GRITZ. They have recently completed their first album and it features Snoop, Raheem DeVaughn, AD.d + and Ms. Erykah Badu. He is also a core member of Erykah Badu’s electronic production group, the Cannabinoids. With these duties he also tours with Ms. Badu as the musical director for her legendary live show.
Claudia M. Melton
Singer/Musician Claudia Melton is riding on the crest of her international acclaim for One Hour, a track with an exclusive 2009 release in Japan track that pairs her unique vocal melodies with the style of Dallas hip-hop sensation Big J of Clever Monkeys and the production of hip-hop producer G Frequency of Ireland. Furthering her worldwide reputation, Claudia performed with international artist, Knagui, in Europe, a critically acclaimed production of Quiet Place. She was lead musician for The Kennedy Center “Imagination Celebration Tour” Harlem. She is currently the vocalist/keyboardist for the Dallas dance band Motion Band.
Born in Corpus Christi, Texas to a family of vital influencers of South Texas music, Claudia began playing violin at the age of four, piano at eight, and saxophone at 11. Heavily influenced by jazz, her father, Claude Melton, was a former President of the Texas Jazz Festival. Claudia perfected her interests and musical talents with advanced jazz studies at the University of North Texas, one of the nation’s finest comprehensive music schools, where she earned a B.M.J.S. Degree in Vocal Performance.
Claudia has sung alongside a plethora of talented artists, including Grammy Award-winner Norah Jones, Boyz II Men, Erykah Badu, Raheem Devaughn, Dwele, Emily King, Dave Hollister, RL of Next, Anthony David, N’Dambi, Case, Choklate, Wayna, Jaguar Wright, Carl Thomas, Rahsaan Patterson, Liv Warfield, and more. In the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area, where she currently resides, Claudia is one of the most popular performers & back-up singers in the state.
In addition to her widely respected career as an emerging new vocal talent, Claudia is a music educator. In 2008, Claudia was selected by the International House of Blues Foundation as a master teacher and narrator to implement the Blues School House curriculum for 5th-12th grade students in Dallas public schools. She is also a private instructor for piano/voice at The Music Shop at Rockwall.
“Insane, genius, mathematical, scientific” are only several words that illustrate the musical intellect that is Jah Born, world-known producer and “sample surgeon.” The Dallas bred producer is not only responsible for stamping Dallas onto the map of musical hierarchy, he also planted the seed of “Neo Soul” into the music industry; therefore allowing Dallas to gain the respect of the industry’s A-list creative minds.
At the age of 13, Jah Born started to construct beats learning from the the creative wisdom of Dallas legend DJ Baby G. After years of perfecting his talent, history was finally made in 1997 when the beat maker produced the track “On and On” for a local artist named Erykah Badu. The single would soon ignite the careers of the two close friends and label Badu “The Queen of Neo Soul.” In 1998, “On and On” earned the producer a Grammy Award and went on to claim triple platinum status. In the song, Badu would spit the line, “Mad props to the god Jah Born,” which gained the D-Town producer household familiarity around the world.
The success of the single was only the beginning for the DJ. Jah Born would go on to produce multiple tracks with Badu including 2000’s “And On” (Mama’s Gun) and 2010’s “Jump up in the Air” (New Amerykah Pt. 2.)
Over a span of 17 years, Jah has worked with numerous artists including Will Smith, Lil Wayne, Snoop Lion, Raheem DeVaughn, Ice Cube, Scarface, Bilal, Paul Wall, Tela, MC Ren, D.O.C., Chino XL, Bug Hud and Jill Sobule. The list goes on to include many producers such as the late J Dilla, RC Williams, Symbolic One, Shaun Martin, Picnic, Tony Draper, Mr. Lee and the list goes on.
In 2006, Jah Born joined Dallas based eclectic band RC & The Gritz. Along with other members RC Williams, Braylon Lacy, Cleon Edwards and vocalist Claudia Melton, the band have been rocking the jam session at The Prophet Bar Dallas and have completed their first album, with features from Snoop Lion, Raheem Devaughn, Erykah Badu, AD.d, and Big Hud to name a few. RC & The Gritz have also been the official band of the Dallas Mavericks, playing at pre-game at home games in the 2011 championship season.
That same year (2006), Badu would construct an electro experimental hip hop band called The Cannabinoids comprised of laptops, turntables, keyboards and drum machines. The live onstage production and jam sessions of the group (made up of RC Williams, Symbolic One, DJ Big Texas, DJ A One, Picnic and Rob Free) come together with Jah Born on the Akai MPC drum machine. The group has toured all over the country with the fellow Dallas native Badu and has performed at Yo Gabba Gabba LIVE, House of Blues, SXSW, Hollywood Palladium, Nokia Theater LA, Afro Punk Fest, ThWarfield San Francisco, The UIC Pavilion Chicago, Best Buy Theater NYC, and the Red Bull Soundclash-Threestyle, just to name a few.
Currently, Jah Born is producing tracks for numerous projects and several albums including more with Erykah Badu, The Gritz debut album and songs with more world reknown artists.
Reach inside mind and world of Jah Born by visiting beatbeastblog.blogspot.com.
Another native Dallasite, Braylon Lacy is the band’s bassist. He has collaborated with such musical talents as Marcus Miller, Waymond Tisdale, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin, and Lalah Hathaway just to name a few.
Drummer of The Gritz Band is Cleon Edwards. A small-town guy, Cleon was born and raised in Ferris, Texas. At age two, he began playing drums alongside his father at their church. With the heavy positive influence and support of his parents, siblings and hometown, Cleon grew and thrived with his drumming abilities and was soon given opportunities to play with influential musicians such as Bobby Sparks, Elbert Taylor, Jr., Bernard Wright, Rc Williams, Robert Searight, Shaun Martin, Daniel Jones, and many others. Over the years, Cleon has performed with numerous artists, including Erykah Badu (current), Talib Kweli, Bilal, Dwele, Raheem Devaughn, Big Time Rush/Snoop Dogg, Snarky Puppy, N’Dambi, Candy West, Jaguar Wright, and Rahsaan PattersonDeonis “Puma” Cook, Aaron Camper, Geno Young, Myron Butler and Levi, Kim Burrell, The Clark Sisters, Terrence Mackey and Nu Restoration, Tim Clifton w/Purpose, Freddie Jones, . He is currently “keeping the pocket strong” for RC and The Gritz Band.
God has given blessings to everyone… some of us are lucky enough to have caretakers who nurture these blessings or talents in a positive manner. With time and these blessed individuals become craftsmen. When performing they are digital in their precision as they channel soul from a source we mere mortals cannot comprehend. An example of one of these individuals is the one and only TaRon Lockett. TaRon was raised in Garland, TX under the supervisor of his Mother and Grandparents. His mother and grandmother played in the church choirs. They both encouraged his early development as well as allowing him to use anything as a drum set. As a small child he was given a gift of a baby sized Rolls Royce. As legend has it he spent more time playing drums on the toy that actually riding in it. His first paying gig was with the church choir. He was paid $2.00 by the pastor and has been a drummer since that day. As TaRon explains it that $2 turned into $15 and over time it turned into $50. I knew I wanted to play drums for the rest of my life.
At age eleven his step father came into his life. Norman Williams a touring musician taught a young Mr. Lockett about professionalism and the finer aspect of handing affairs on the road. While playing at a jam session in Dallas TaRon became friends with RC Williams. The Grammy nominated musician called TaRon one afternoon and asked him “Hey do you have a passport?” TaRon replied “no, but I will by tomorrow.” After that phone conversation his life changed forever. Since that faithful day TaRon Lockett has gone on to work with Snoop Lion, Bootsy Collins, The Cannabinoids, and Willie Nelson.
He is currently touring with the Legendary Erykah Badu, as well as producing Inspirational Soul Artist Reuben Lael. He also plays in several bands including a new artist Johnny Stimson. Mr. Lockett’s musical influences read like a list of his extended family. They include his dad Norman Williams, Bobby Sparks, Bernard Wright, Jason Thomas, Robert “Sput” Searight, Shaun Martin, Nate Werth, and of course RC Williams.