Last month I had the pleasure of meeting Marcus and Jean Baylor. The Suite Soul Spot Concert Series, in association with VanitaApplebum Entertainment Services, brought Frank McComb to St. Louis along with Marcus on drums and Jean as a vocalist. And oh what a show it was! It was the first time the Baylors worked with Frank and it’s a tour that really needs to be traveling to all cities *nudges your local music promoter*.
You may remember St. Louis native Marcus Baylor as the drummer for the American jazz/fusion group, Yellowjackets. He played and produced for the Yellowjackets close to a decade while also working with other artists like Anita Baker and Cassandra Wilson. And Jean Baylor, you know as one-half of the 90’s R&B group, Zhane’. She has also written and produced for SWV, Mary J. Blige, and others.
Together the couple started Be a Light, the imprint record label with the purpose of doing exactly what the name says, “to be a light”. The couple shared that, “In mainstream media where there’s a lot of darkness, our mission is to be that light. It’s the business umbrella that we produce and distribute all our musical recordings through.” Jean and Marcus want to portray an encouraging image in the music business. “We need more of a balance of companies and artists who can just be themselves, but be a positive influence,” said Marcus.
In addition to Be a Light, Marcus and Jean have a production unit, The Baylors. “We were functioning in that way since starting Jean’s first solo project,” stated Marcus. “We do our own stuff but are branching out to other artists like Philly native Carol Riddick [it’ll be her second solo project]. And we’re starting to work with the legendary group The Three Degrees – the one girl group who stood the test of time and has been around fifty years,” added Jean. You may remember their song from the original Soul Train theme. The group had hits years ago and they still travel. Jean and Marcus are working on The Three Degrees 50th anniversary project.
After the couple shared the multiple, ongoing projects in their lives, including Jean’s upcoming holiday album Light Up the World and performances by their band, Free Day, I had to ask, WHEN DO Y’ALL SLEEP?!?! “We have to know how to balance it all. Being a creative mind, creative people can do so many different things but you have to know when focus on those things and when to release it,” says Marcus. Jean chimed in, “It’s not easy!” They’re also working on Marcus’ album set to release next year.
The chemistry between Marcus and Jean was undeniable and I know any future project collaborated on by this couple will be gold! It’s real music at it’s finest!