ellen's bio

Ellen comes in many sizes. In addition to her solo and duo gigs, she also rocks it in the following flavors.

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Ellen Whyte

Ellen Whyte has just released her fourth album, appropriately titled: Four Way Stop, a soaring achievement from an accomplished singer songwriter. Long time Portland, Oregon KINK FM 102 Blues Show radio personality, Bob Ancheta raved that it gave him “goose bumps!”

Ellen has fronted bands continuously now for more than 30 years, as she has seven critically acclaimed albums. She was captivated by music since she was a child growing up in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Leaving the humidity and the taffeta dresses of her accordion marching band behind, Ellen branched out to blue grass, gospel, rock, blues and jazz. Her eclectic tastes in music include heroes such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, and Bonnie Raitt.

Ellen is known for her astonishing vocals, as she gracefully moves among genres from blues to jazz to funk and ballads. Her percussive rhythm guitar work is well suited to her voice, and she plays solo, in duos and trios, up to a full nine piece band complete with a horn section. She’s won numerous awards for her work, including consideration for two Grammy Award nominations in 1999 and most recently in 2009 for “Four Way Stop.”

Speaking of such, Grammy award producer Dennis Walker had this to say after working on the third CD, Standing at the Sunrise: “She not only sings like an angel, but brings her own styling and phrasing to every song that is completely individual. Thank God for Ellen Whyte who is one of the last few who can still sing blues and pop and jazz, and still stand up on a stage and sing big band standards with the best of them.”

Ellen, guitarist Garry Meziere, and her husband John Mullin, have collaborated with veteran musicians—“The ‘A’ List Commandos,” as Ellen likes to refer to them-- to produce a sophisticated, yet accessible sound that synchs up well with thoughtful and emotionally infused lyrics.

In addition to the Northwest, Ellen tours in the Mid West and on the East Coast, West Coast, and was a featured artist in the International Blues festival in Montreal. Get ready for some “Heart Rockin’ Music” with Ellen Whyte!

AWARDS

2015 Oregon Music Hall of Fame Inductee

2009 “Four Way Stop” CD: "Best Self Produced CD in the Pacific Northwest" awarded by the Cascade Blues Association

2009 “Four Way Stop” CD nominated into the 1st round entry list for the Grammy Awards in 2009 for “Best Contemporary Blues Recording”

2002 Inducted into the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame for “Best Contemporary Blues Band”

2002 “Standing At The Sunrise” CD: “Best Regional Northwest Recording” awarded by the Cascade Blues Association

2002 “Best Performance Of The Year at The Waterfront Blues Festival"

2000 “Best Female Vocalist” awarded by the Cascade Blues Association

1999 “Here and Gone” CD nominated into the first round entry list for the Grammy Awards in 2 categories: “Best New Artist,” and “Best Contemporary Blues Album”

1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 “Best Contemporary Blues Band” awarded by the Cascade Blues Association of Oregon

1996 “Best Regional Northwest Recording” for “Different Point Of Blue” CD awarded by the Cascade Blues Association of Oregon

Ellen Whyte Trio

Ellen Whyte Trio

In addition to Ellen, the Trio consists of:

Jean Pierre Garau:
Keyboards, Lead and Background Vocals

Jean-Pierre has been making music all his life. He grew up in Laguna Beach, California, lived on the Island of Maui for several years and relocated to Portland in October 1990. Jean-Pierre sings and plays piano and other keyboards, performing in more live and studio dates than he can possibly recall. He also composes, adapts/arranges, charts and teaches music as a second language. In short, music is his art and his vocation for which he is indeed grateful. His skills are in high demand in the region as he is among the "first call" keyboardists for session work. He lends his inspired lead vocals to many songs with the "Plus Size Band."

Gene Houck:
Bass Guitar, Lead and Background Vocals

Gene has been a professional bass guitarist for over 30 years (even though he claims he is still 29 years old). He has been the bass guitarist for national touring artists such as Maria Muldaur, the great blues guitarist Roy Rogers and the late Norton Buffalo. In addition, he has played with numerous bands at the local level. Gene has also performed with some of the NW best including Dan Balmer, The Ray Charles Tribute Orchestra and 10 years with the Patrick Lamb Band. Gene has performed on national commercial spots for Budweiser and Taco Bell. Gene adds his powerful lead vocals to many of the song selections.

“Ellen sings like an angel and brings her own styling and phrasing to every song. Thank God for Ellen Whyte who can sing blues, pop and jazz and stand up on stage and sing big band standards with the best of them.”

--Dennis Walker, Grammy award winning producer

Ellen Whyte
and the Plus Sized Band

Ellen Whyte and the Plus Sized Band

One thing about multi-Grammy nominated vocalist Ellen Whyte you can count on is that you can never categorize her as a one trick pony. This native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida who has fronted bands for over 30 years melds her rich influences of jazz, blues, rock, gospel and Americana into every performance. Whether it is a trio, her 6 piece combo or her 10 piece big band, traces of all of these influences can be masterfully heard. Never is it more on display, however, then with the blistering hot 10 piece, “Ellen Whyte and the Plus Sized Band. " Armed with a powerhouse 4 piece horn section and one of the tightest rhythm sections in Portland, a night with “Ellen Whyte and the Plus Sized Band” is an experience not to be missed (nor forgotten).

"This band is like family,” Ellen continues. We just go out and have a blast. Audiences see and hear it in our performances and really get involved! Our repertoire is truly unique with this band, explains Ellen. You won’t hear the typical ‘horn dance band’ song list. There are several songs of mine that you will only hear with the Plus Sized Band. We also take covers (some recognized, others undiscovered gems) and put our own original stamp to them. The result is truly amazing.”

The PLUS SIZED BAND consists of:

Garry Meziere:
Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals

Garry has had a guitar in his hands since he was ten years old. One of the most sought after blues and rock guitarists in the Northwest, you can hear his blistering solo and tasty guitar rhythms on all of Ellen Whyte’s recordings. He has been a key songwriting collaborator along with Ellen Whyte and John Mullin (President of Amallegory Productions, Inc.) on all of Ellen’s CDs. The Plus Size Band gets to really show off Garry’s amazing style and finesse whether doing Blues, Funk, Jazz, Rock or a Big Band Standard. Garry has also played with Ty Curtis, Kal David, and local luminaries, Lloyd Jones and Terry Robb. Along with Ellen, he has opened for Little Feat, the Neville Brothers, Ronnie Earl, and Leon Russell.

Jean Pierre Garau:
Keyboards, Lead and Background Vocals

Jean-Pierre has been making music all his life. He grew up in Laguna Beach, California, lived on the Island of Maui for several years and relocated to Portland in October 1990. Jean-Pierre sings and plays piano and other keyboards, performing in more live and studio dates than he can possibly recall. He also composes, adapts/arranges, charts and teaches music as a second language. In short, music is his art and his vocation for which he is indeed grateful. His skills are in high demand in the region as he is among the "first call" keyboardists for session work. He lends his inspired lead vocals to many songs with the "Plus Size Band."

Gene Houck:
Bass Guitar, Lead and Background Vocals

Gene has been a professional bass guitarist for over 30 years (even though he claims he is still 29 years old). He has been the bass guitarist for national touring artists such as Maria Muldaur, the great blues guitarist Roy Rogers and the late Norton Buffalo. In addition, he has played with numerous bands at the local level. Gene has also performed with some of the NW best including Dan Balmer, The Ray Charles Tribute Orchestra and 10 years with the Patrick Lamb Band. Gene has performed on national commercial spots for Budweiser and Taco Bell. Gene adds his powerful lead vocals to many of the song selections.

THE ESP HORNS

One of the signatures of the Plus Sized Band is the impressive horn arrangements. Ellen has the astute ability of tapping the best Northwest horn arrangers including Glenn Holstrom, Renato Caranto and Pete Petersen to come up with stunning one of a kind arrangements. All played played wonderfully by:

Pete Petersen:
Tenor and Alto Saxophone and Clarinet

Pete has worked steadily in horn sections for many local and regional notables, and has also worked as a sideman for a veritable who’s-who of touring “name” acts that run the full spectrum of diversity from the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra to southern rock supergroup Lynyrd Skynyrd. Also a bandleader in his own right, his critically-acclaimed new CD “Keep Your Hat On” is now available from Pony Boy Records.

Greg Garrett:
Trumpet

Greg started out in the Ann Arbor Brass Quintet and also played with David Swaim, playing jazz standards and other oddities. He later played Motown in Ohio before returning to the Northwest. He’s also played with Dave Brubeck, Lynard Skynard, The Temptations, Diane Reeves, The O’Jays, Diane Shure, The Moody Blues, and Mannheim Steamroller. Greg sits in a number of local bands as his trumpet skills are in high demand.

Renato Caranto:
Tenor Sax

Renato can bop hard, lay out a swinging groove, and play a ballad so sweet it will send shivers up your spine.

He burst onto the Portland, Oregon music scene in 1992 and has not stopped since. The early years were spent playing the Blues with many notable local groups which led to several yearly awards for “Best Blues Horn” from the Cascade Blues Association. But his greatest desire was to play Jazz.

Renato is now a firm fixture in the music community throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. He has recorded and/or performed with many notable nationally known talents: Esperanza Spalding, Bernard Purdie, Arturo Sandoval, Curtis Fuller, Javon Jackson, James Carter, Clarence Clemons, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Grant Green, Rob Paparozzi of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Bruce Conte and Mic Gillette of Tower of Power and the late great Merle Haggard.

He has performed in all of the major festivals in the area and was the featured artist and poster-musician for the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival in 2006.

John Moak:
Trombone

Trombonist John Moak has performed with many notable artists including Dave Brubeck, Clark Terry, Louie Bellson, Pete Christlieb, Nat Adderley, Randy Brecker, Diane Schuur, Branford Marsalis, Slide Hampton, Doc Severinsen, Jack Sheldon, Herbie Mann, Rosemary Clooney, James Moody, John Faddis, Byron Stripling and Ken Peplowski . He has performed as a member of the Louie Bellson Big Band and Octet, the Clark Terry Quintet, the Portland Jazz Orchestra and with pop acts, Frankie Valli, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, the Temptations, and the Four Tops. John appears on many recordings, most recently with Gino Vannelli. He has performed at the New Orleans, Newport, Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals.

“Ellen sings like an angel and brings her own styling and phrasing to every song. Thank God for Ellen Whyte who can sing blues, pop and jazz and stand up on stage and sing big band standards with the best of them.”

--Dennis Walker, Grammy award winning producer

Ellen Whyte is a consummate performer who is never better than in front of this tremendously talented assortment of musicians the Northwest has to offer. Take the ride that is “Ellen Whyte and the Plus Sized Band.” You won’t want it to end.

PHOTO CREDITS

Many of the images on this site were taken by fans, but some were taken by professionals. To give them credit, here they are listed and you can check them out at their web sites.

Frank DeSantis
Karylee Harrison
Susan Thorsen
Greg Johnson
Bobby Pallotta (for the Bacon Song)
Charles Ryan II Photography