Bio…bio…daylight come and me wan’ go ohm.
Besides being a teacher of meditation and a professional artist, Venita Louise is also a published author. She has dabbled in the arts since she was a child. If she wasn’t drawing, she was writing or plucking out tunes on her guitar.
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 would join in and they would often hear the neighbors cheer and applaud their approval.
She has been the Production Control Manager at a well-known musical instrument manufacturer for the past 15 years. Being surrounded by musicians every day keeps her inspired. Venita has been writing original songs for 20 years and has recorded for small plays and web sites. She has been the lead vocalist for several bands for the last five 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 several songs together and plan to release their own CD in the late fall of 2010. Watch for it under the band name of White Smoke. One of their songs, The Eyes of a Traveler, will be featured at Vintage Romance Publishing.
Russ Stacey plays bass guitar & provides backing vocals. Russ has played a little of everything since he was 11 years old (trombone, guitar, keyboards & ukulele) with various bands in Oregon & California.
Now mostly a bassist, Russ has had the opportunity to play at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Museum two years in a row with his NBC company's band - "High Definition" for the "Battle of the Corporate Bands" Finals competition in Cleveland. Russ enjoys playing in Meridian with their diverse selection of songs & great vocal harmonies between the band members.
When Russ is not playing music, he is very busy with the Special Olympics & LETMESAIL (a boys & girls club for the differently-abled). Having a son who attends both groups, Russ is also the current President of the Board for the LETMESAIL organization.
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!