Mixing the heartfelt grooves of funk and hip hop into a foundation of alternative rock, Southern California band Monroe creates a sound uniquely their own, one that defies an easy pigeonhole. Recently, the group beat out nearly 100 other musical competitors to win the 2012 Artist of the Year Award from California State University, Northridge (CSUN), not only offering them radio play but also the opportunity to record their second EP, titled “Monroe”.

The original quartet joined forces in 2009, generating a melting pot of style that yielded a sound comparable to established bands such as Incubus, Radiohead, N.E.R.D. and the Police. Their E.P., Outer Space, was finished that fall, featuring seven songs with impeccable technique, passionate vocals and irresistibly catchy hooks. Since then, they have steadily penetrated the music scene on both west and east coasts, earning a loyal fan base with their well-crafted sound and well-honed stage chemistry. The band’s name also channels a cheeky spirit, referring to their Hollywood digs across from Paramount Pictures which formerly served as a makeup studio for Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe is a four-member band consisting of:

Kelton Blackshear is a 21-year-old Texas native whose soulful voice truly defines Monroe’s sound. In 2008 he made it to the Top 50 of “American Idol” before deciding to leave, and has performed in music competitions around the country. KB attended Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full scholarship, and it is there that the band was born. His distinct vocals have entertained audiences from all around the Boston area to the world-renowned clubs of Hollywood.

Lawrence IV (Lawrence the fourth) began playing guitar at the age of eleven. Completely self-taught, he performed in and around Los Angeles consistently throughout his teens, taking style tips from iconic players of all genres. Minarik Guitars sponsored him in 2004, dubbing him their “little Jimi.” Upon completing his high school music program, Lawrence went on to study guitar performance at Berklee College of Music, where he met the members of Monroe. Today, at age 21, his diverse sound ranges from complex jazz to rock, and everything in between.

Trevor James, the little brother of the band at 19, is a Los Angeles native who has been playing bass professionally for five years. Having studied with upright bassist Frederick Tinsley of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Trevor’s music is informed by his knowledge of a wide range of styles, as well as electric, upright and key bass. He has played with the renowned Victor Wooten and Chaka Khan’s saxophonist, Donald Hayes. As the newest member of Monroe, Trevor’s laidback, groovy style continues to elevate the band’s sound.

Gabriel Baker, age 22, has been playing drums professionally since his young teens growing up in Los Angeles. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston for jazz drumming, and has studied with such distinguished teachers as Greg Bissonette, Jerry Kalaf, and David Elitch of The Mars Volta. Gabe’s percussion features an amalgamation of styles, and his passion for drums makes him as comfortable playing rock as he is playing reggae. As the backbeat of Monroe, his facile fusion of funk, hip-hop and rock styles complete the bands unique sound.

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