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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh music scene has a long and vibrant history. However, there’s a new group quickly rising to fame that’s catching many people off-guard and they’re hitting all the right notes.
They have a rich sound. In fact, they sound like professional musicians who’ve been playing jazz and funk in the city for years.
But, these musicians are actually kids who found their groove at an early age.
“Although we may be kids, we may be young, we’re not a kid band,” saxophone player Winston Bell said.
The band is called Funky Fly Project.
Bass player Eric Dowdell is the elder statesman of the group at age 18. Bell and keyboardist Henry Shultz are both 15. Drummer Brandon Christopher Terry is the youngest of the group at just 12 years old.
Shultz and Terry’s parents discovered their talents barely out of infancy.
“I used to watch shows, cartoons and I would figure out how to play music from the cartoons on the piano,” Schultz said.
“When I would be at my house in the kitchen, my mom would start cooking I would find any pots or pans that would be laying around the house and start banging on them,” Terry said.
Winston picked up a sax for the first time in sixth grade. He started playing with Schutlz and Terry all while they were in elementary school.
That’s when they discovered something about themselves and each other.
“We’ve been playing long enough to find our thing musically , and we play really good together,” Schultz said.
That led to the creation of Funky Fly Project. They already have one album under their belt, which was released this fall.
“Our first CD, ‘Déjà vu,’ is our versions of colors that we changed to our own style the way we want to play it,” Bell said.
“I look at it like a movement, as an influence to kids who really don’t have the privilege of being around good music,” Dowdell said.
So where do they get their guidance and inspiration?
It started with good parenting, including from Bell’s father – nationally-known drummer Poogie Bell – who’s taken the role of teacher and coach.
He’s played music around the world with the likes of Chaka Kahn.
“If you have a lot of experience, you are supposed to pass it on,” Poogie Bell said.
Because of their talent and the fact that they’re all driven, the future is very bright
“They have a real sense of who they are, what they want to be and not only that, they have a little financial security to go along with that,” Poogie Bell said.
“Some of my goals – well, travel the world just like my father, but at the same time surpass him, sorry dad,” Winston said.
“I’ll probably finish Berklee College of Music then I’ll be a professor Dr. Brandon for a little bit,” Terry said.
“My goal is to become one of the best musicians in the world,” Dowdell said.