Bio…bio…daylight come and me wan’ go ohm.
Venita has immersed herself in the arts since she was a child. If she wasn’t drawing, she was writing or plucking out tunes on her guitar. Being a portrait artist for many years, she discovered that in order to draw people she also had to have the training and expertise of a cosmetic surgeon which prompted her to switch to pet portraits.
She designed the Original Santa Clarita postal seal and is the published author of five novels, Initials For Murder, Dead on the Money, In Mysterious Ways, Mixed Nuts and In The Rough.
She fondly remembers backyard gatherings in the warm summer evenings. Her father and his brothers would sit on the patio and sing old songs and harmonize like a barbershop quartet. One uncle even played guitar for a well-known swing band, so music has always been a big part of her life. She and her sister, Lynda, would join in and they would often hear the neighbors cheer and applaud their approval.
She was the Production Control Manager at a well-known musical instrument manufacturer for many years. Being surrounded by musicians every day kept her inspired. Venita has been writing original songs for thirty years and has recorded for small plays and web sites. She has been the lead vocalist for Meridian for fifteen years and loves singing classic rock the way people remember it.
Ever since she has teamed up with the genius of BJ on the keyboards, they have written many songs together and have released two CD’s to date, Proper Introductions and Past The Beginning, and working on more under their original band, White Smoke.
Venita now owns her own business, Venita’s Gourmet Sweets. She develops unique recipes for toffee, nuts and brittles and is proud to say, with the help of BJ, she ships nationwide.
Russ Stacey plays bass, acoustic guitar & backing vocals. He started his musical journey playing the trombone in the 5th grade. After watching the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, guitars would be added to Russ’s instruments. This inspiration led to joining several bands as both a guitarist and bass player while growing up in Southern Oregon.
Russ moved from the Pacific Northwest down to LA pursuing a broadcasting career that turned out to be 40 years of work at NBC. While there, he joined a band of coworkers as their bassist to play Christmas parties and other special events. This band competed in the Fortune “Battle of the Corporate Bands” and progressed to the finals held at the “Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Museum” in Cleveland.
Russ’s passion for Beatle music led him to a Pilgrimage Tour that covered both London and Liverpool locations of Fab Four interest. He was able to visit Abbey Road Studios and play the actual piano that Paul used for “Lady Madonna”! The bass guitar (pictured above) is a 67’ Hofner (Beatle) bass that was just recently restored and Russ’s fave!
Russ says that playing with Meridian is truly the best as their wide range of classic rock songs are fun, challenging and everyone says, “nobody plays that!”. He also enjoys contributing to the great vocal harmonies between all the band members.
When Russ is not playing music, he is busy taking his son to Special Olympics & SNAP (Special Needs Athletes & Peers) Sports events. Russ also serves on the Advisory Board for the Rock Club, which is an organization that helps veterans with PTSD through the power of music. See musicistheremedy.org for further info.
Music has always been a huge part of Shanna’s life. Being surrounded by nearly every type of music from Renaissance to contemporary, it was inevitable that she would end up involved in its creation at some point.
Attending a performing arts institute, she began studying voice in high school, with heavy interest in musical theater. In her spare time she listened to a massive range of artists, and emulated her biggest vocal influences which include Linda Ronstadt, Cass Elliot, Sarah Brightman, Lea Salonga, Michael Ball, and the more modern influences of Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion. Being influenced by her grandmother who encouraged her to listen to classical and opera also had quite an impact on her musical journey.
Life’s journey took her to the Pacific Northwest where she lived happily under rainy skies for fifteen years, finding her career in the healing arts as a massage therapist and teacher. She spent a large amount of time attending concerts and traveling.
On her return to California she continued her career in massage as a therapist and teacher, and accepted a position with a massage related Non-Profit. Entering semi-retirement as a massage therapist, Shanna has found more time to explore her interests which include, making jewelry, gardening, writing and music.
Shanna happily made Bj’s acquaintance through mutual friends and after singing for a group of friends at a party was urged by them to contact him in response to his search for a back up singer. She joined fellow Meridian members and another backup singer for an Elton John Showcase which segued into joining Meridian as the fourth voice and resident stratosphere surfer. And she couldn’t be happier about it.
She now lives with her sweetheart and too many cats in the sunny mountains of Southern California.
“As far back as I can remember, there was always a piano in our home” says BJ. “My mother was always practicing classical pieces; Bach, Beethoven, Mozart etc… so all that ‘mental programming’ began early for me.” BJ’s love of music grew quickly. By the age of 12 he had written his first song with the tutelage from his mother.
By 19, he got his first synthesizer (Roland-Jupiter 8) and joined a Top 40 band. Experience and equipment accumulated over the years as well as his songwriting skills. He continued to play in different bands over the years. In 1990 a body of work labeled the “Jacaranda” project was written with a long-time friend and guitarist, Stephen Peters. “Our publisher got one of our songs used for the soap opera ‘Santa Barbara.”
A short break from music was taken to pursue some work in the film’s post-production world. “That was an extremely valuable experience. I wouldn’t trade those 11 years of my life for anything.”
By 2008 he resurrected his love for music and joined another band. “The band had a lot of talent, but most of them had other priorities. That’s where I met Venita. We soon became great friends and splintered off to start our own band.”
Meridian has welcomed a new member to the band. "Shanna's voice is a perfect fit and naturally blends so well with Venita's voice." “We have the sound of a seven-piece band.” BJ has integrated his computer programming skills with the band’s music bringing a powerful sonic punch to their show!