Sometimes you just have to cut the line.
That’s what saxophonist Tia Fuller (MMus’00) was thinking outside a 2006 audition for Beyoncé’s all-female touring band.
Fuller was then rehearsing her own album also; time was precious. The odds were long and the audition line wrapped around the corner.
“I’m not waiting eight hours,” she thought.
Talking with someone she knew, Fuller, then 30, politely finagled her way into the line without a ripple.
Good thing, too: She was called back for another performance and eventually got a ring from Beyoncé’s music director.
“Beyoncé specifically asked for you,” she told Fuller.
Narrowed to 150 candidates from 5,000, Fuller was among 10 musicians who made the final cut.
As an active member of Beyonce’s band from 2006-2010, she toured the world for eight months of the year and rehearsed for three months.
“We went to every continent except Antarctica!” said Fuller, who grew up in Aurora, Colo., and began playing classical piano at age 3, adding flute and saxophone before she was a teenager.
While touring with Beyoncé, Fuller founded the Tia Fuller Quartet in New York.
“Nothing lasts forever, so I wanted to remain visible on the jazz scene with my quartet,” she said.
When Beyoncé’s band went on break in late 2010, Fuller took her own act on the road. In time, she also planted a foot in the academy, accepting a full-time professorship teaching in Boston.
In one 24-hour period in January 2013, she received a teaching offer from Berklee College of Music — and a call from Beyoncé to rejoin the band.
“After lots of prayer, I said ‘Yes’ to Berklee and ‘No’ to Beyoncé,” said Fuller, who teaches in the ensemble department. “At Berklee, it’s flexible so I can tour, play, stay visible and direct eight different ensembles.”
By now, she’s got four albums of her own, most recently Angelic Warrior.
“I merged what I’d learned from Beyoncé about marketing and sequencing a show into creating my own story,” she said. “I now have an idea about how to integrate R&B into the jazz world, constantly tailor-making set lists for different audiences.”
Her biggest challenge is balancing her teaching and touring schedule while starting a business, a booking agency called Elthopia Productions.
“I need to maintain a balance in everything and not feel guilty if I am taking time for leisure activities,” she said.
That includes sitting down occasionally on her couch.
Photo courtesy Tia Fuller