The Alpha Theory
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The Alpha Theory

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | SELF

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Band Rock Soul


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Don't try to define The Alpha Theory. Just listen."

BY CRAIG D. LINDSEY - Staff Writer

DURHAM -- It seems all too fitting that members of The Alpha Theory would have lunch one Friday afternoon at a restaurant called Cuban Revolution. After all, Jocelyn Ellis, the "The Tao of War"-reading lead singer, calls herself a "revolutionary," while burly guitarist Jeff Taylor describes what they're doing as "a music revolution."

"We're trying to put music back in the music industry," Taylor says.

The four members of the Theory - Ellis, Taylor, bassist Nathan Woolard and drummer Jesse Seibold - are winding down after performing a set on the WUNC program "The State of Things." As they nosh on chips and pressed Cuban sandwiches, they explain how their funky, guitar-riff-heavy union came to be.

It all started in 2007 when Seibold contacted Taylor and Woolard, musicians he had performed with in other bands, about putting a group together. "We were talking about making a project with no boundaries, kind of wide open as far as the kind of music we were going to make," says Hickory native Taylor, 33.

While they were composing and practicing at various spots (including a computer repair shop), Seibold met up with Ellis at a managerial economics class at UNC Charlotte. Ellis, who was establishing herself as a professional singer, soon found herself hooking up with this trio.

"The initial time I met them, the vibe was, you know, very effortless, as far as the music," says the Durham-born Ellis, 23, now living in Charlotte. "We're all on the same page as far as just making music that you can feel, no matter what genre. No matter, you know, what type of style it is. We just want to create. We just want to express."

"From the time she walked in and started singing, it was straight-up magic," agrees Taylor. "Like, goose bumps, the whole nine."

They started performing together in late 2008, originally as Jocelyn Ellis and the Alpha Theory. They've performed around North Carolina and South Carolina, and along the East Coast, priding themselves on being a musically eclectic, lyrically erudite collective. It's this combination of sophisticated, cerebral consciousness and down-and-dirty rhythmic chemistry that has led to them opening for a fascinating cross-section of artists: Everclear, Citizen Cope, even renowned poet Nikki Giovanni.

Mostly described as a rock/soul/hip-hop outfit, the band hasn't exactly pinned down its sound. "I don't know if we've totally decided yet," says Taylor.

Seibold, 29, a St. Louis native who lives in Charlotte, chimes in. "We just kind of get together and jam, and whatever comes out is kind of what comes out."

"We don't want to be stuck to a certain genre," continues the Gastonia-born, Belmont-based Woolard, 29. "So we decided to create a band where we could play whatever we wanted and we didn't care what anybody thought."

And while the Theory may be seen as a curiosity by some, with Ellis as the cocoa-colored frontwoman of this mostly alabaster unit, the bandmates assert that their racial makeup does not define who they are as a band. And the fan base that attends the shows, which has been known to include buppies, old hippies, and even whole families, get that.

Says Ellis, "When they hear the music, they can hear it in the music that everything is so integrated, as far as all of our energies, that no one has said, 'Oh, there's a black girl with three white guys!' So I think people just perceive it as what it is: It's good music."

With one EP under its belt (2009's "In the Beginning"), the Theory hopes to get a full-length release out soon. But until then, fans can listen to their live EP, "The Alpha Theory - RAW," available for free download on the band's website.

For the time being, Ellis and her Alpha Theory brethren continue their mission of shaking things up, expressing themselves in whatever style of music that comes to them. "It's just about being free," Ellis says. "I think people put themselves in boxes. And, as far as our message, just express how you want to express, you know. Speak on the things that you want to speak on. And bring something that's meaningful, to have substance, to have some type of meaning."

Says Ellis, "Don't make any bread, you know, that has no type of nutrition." or 919-829-4760

- News & Observer

"Jocelyn Ellis & The Alpha Theory"

Click Link for PDF - CharlotteStyle Magazine

"Making It"

(Visit to read live article.)

Jocelyn Ellis is working it. A singer, songwriter, composer, and producer who describes her sound as urban folk, Ellis' musical influences are Prince, Chaka Khan, U2, The Police, and Sade. The twenty-two-year-old Durham native and UNC Charlotte senior has a growing following, and with her band, The Alpha Theory, she released a seven-song EP in May titled In the Beginning. Performing in front of packed crowds at recent shows at the Evening Muse and Neighborhood Theatre has helped foster her belief that Charlotte will support local artists.

Find out what Ellis thinks about the Charlotte music scene and how she wants to use her business degree to start a company that helps emerging musicians.

If you're going to be a big-time musician, do you really need college?

Knowing business in general, I hope, will help me be savvy as far as the industry goes. And that was my whole mentality for studying business, like let me do something that I can apply to music. Business, music—music business—you know.

How did you get started with music?

My first performance was at four years old, during my preschool graduation. When I turned twelve I started taking piano lessons. And off and on I was involved in school choirs and church choirs. I've just always had a passion for music. When I came to UNC Charlotte, it gave me an opportunity to get involved in talent shows and showcases. I just really loved it and developed it, then I started doing gigs off campus and it just grew from there. I'm working with a band now, The Alpha Theory, and we're trying to push this musical movement through true expression.

What do you think about Charlotte's music scene?

I definitely think it's grown since I've been here, which is exciting. The biggest thing I think about the underground and underground artists is unifying and coming together. So I've seen that. We've had the opportunity to grow and now we're at a point where we're going hard. And Charlotte is starting to support the arts more. You have the new venues that just went up at the Music Factory and even the EpiCentre has an art gallery, so you see this whole revitalization of the arts. As underground artists, it's not as easy for us to get onto the radio or to put an ad on TV for our new CD. So being recognized by our community—I'm so happy to see that and it's such a blessing.

You've been doing a lot of live shows lately.

We have to get out there. There are so many people who live in Charlotte, and the whole area like Kannapolis and Matthews, so to go to events like FemmeFest and perform gives people the live element and a true vibe. You can listen to a CD, but when you go to a live show you can feel the energy. I think when you see us on stage you can tell how passionate we are about what we create. And it gets the next person on board with spreading the word about our music.

At your show at the Evening Muse there were a lot of UNCC students there. What kind of support do you get from them?

I think a lot of them have seen my growth. They saw me at the talent shows and showcases and then when I started doing gigs off campus, they followed. It's great to see them out in the crowd.

How did the EP come together?

I write all the songs, and I'm proud to say that because some artists don't write their own material. I compose as well, like for “If Cupid Had A Girlfriend," I actually composed the piano piece for that. Then with the tracks with live instrumentation, The Alpha Theory created the music. And we had a couple of producers on the project as well.

How did you link up with The Alpha Theory?

I met the drummer in one of my classes. He'd done a gig with me and he said, ‘I have a band. You should come check us out.' And we just hit it off and started working together. They're just phenomenal musicians. A lot of times they'll put the music together, like for “Wake Up" and “Sugar Rose" they put the music together and then I wrote to it. Honestly, our process just flows. We'll go into a room and express and create. We just click.

Your sound seems like it can fit into several different categories, depending on what song of yours we're listening to.

My sound is very diverse because I'm diverse. I can write to anything and I love to play with my voice and I love to experiment. I would describe my sound as urban folk/indie rock. I say urban folk because when you think of folk you think of being on the porch telling stories and that's what I do—I try to tell stories, tell my life, and just be real with people. I throw urban in there because we're using contemporary instrumentation to convey what we want to say.

Where do you want to go with music?

My short-term goal is to start a music production and publishing company and that would house what we do. Inevitably, I would like to start a company—I don't want to call it a record label because, in my opinion, we don't make records anymore and I don't want to label anybody. But it would help other artists get their music out. There's just so much talent in North Carolina. And since I do have a business background, I want to take that and my understanding of the artistry and create a community where they can freely express, but also have somebody looking out for their best interest from a business standpoint. Then, I have a lot of ideas. I want to get out there with the band and have people hear our music and in the next two years be on a national level and going on tour.
- Charlotte Magazine, August 2009 Edition

"Jocelyn Ellis, sets her mind on her degree, music"

She's an international business student at UNC Charlotte. She's also an award-winning musician trying to break into the industry as a black girl fronting a rock band with the help of elite producers such as Grammy Award winner 9th Wonder. Though, no matter what happens, Jocelyn Ellis is going to graduate from college next year to make her daddy happy.

"She doesn't try to be over the top," says Raleigh's 9th Wonder, a.k.a. Patrick Douthit. "She's an around-the-way girl, very unassuming. You wouldn't think the sound that comes out of her would come out of that box."

Ellis' music is difficult to define, and she likes it that way. In one show, she will swing between R&B ("Made for two") and rock ("Sugar Rose") then over to the blues ("Seasons of Change") right before belting out a free-form song off the top of her head, which is how "Sell me a Cloud," the song 9th Wonder produced, was created. If pressed, she categorizes her music as urban-folk hip-hop.

"Her music isn't boxed in," says Power 98 morning DJ Church Boy, "It's in its own lane. Everybody can listen to her music, not just one spectrum of people."

Ellis got her professional start performing around the campus to anyone who would listen. Thanks to her family's eclectic musical tastes, though, music has always had a big place in her life.

Her mother, Pamela Kelly, says she enrolled Ellis in music lessons after a family gathering at a hotel. "She drifted to a piano and played something so melodic our jaws just dropped," Kelly says.

Farrah Morgan, a former Bad Boy/ Arista executive (who also happens to be Ellis' cousin), says people are attracted to Ellis because they are trying to reconnect with music. "The best way," she says, "is to have a song that speaks to that for you. You can feel that in her music. I can feel who I am through some of her songs."

Ellis is trying to create a musical revolution where freedom reigns and music -- not just a look or a package or the price of a ticket -- is the most important thing. She calls it the "Jynesis Movement."

Morgan, who is no longer in the music industry, says, "Now it's almost like a cattle call." Meaning, producers find something they like and package it to look just like something else that is already popular.

She says artists, eager to make it big, conform then realize they're not happy, that they're not making the music they intended to make. She's encouraging Ellis to "come out with the passionate extreme" and avoid the business product.

"I want this movement to become something more than me," Ellis says. "I don't want to be hindered by profit margins."

To her, the industry seems adversarial. Instead of embracing talent, barriers are constructed. But, she says, "The industry is abstract. The music industry is driven by art, and we can be free in that.

"It's time for a new voice," she adds. "Our generation doesn't know how powerful we really are. Forget the system. If you take your chances and run with them, the possibilities are endless."

She talks about the music underground, social media and musicians making their tunes available online. "You don't need a million dollar marketing budget," she says. "The underground helps level the playing field."

"We're putting the music back in the music industry," said Jeff Taylor, guitarist for Alpha Theory, the band that wrote the music for "Sugar Rose."

Taylor says when you're in a band, you're also in the band with your bandmates' significant others, jobs and other problems. But, Ellis isn't like that. She's an unpretentious, amazing talent, he says. "That's what we like about her."

Her humility is almost as impressive as her talent. Still a year away from graduation, she has shared the stage with performers like multi-platinum Wyclef Jean, Grammy Award-winner Chrisette Michele and Cassidy.

Everyone around Ellis is convinced she's going to be huge, that she's going to carve out a new genre of music then lift other musicians to her level only to encourage them to do their own thing.

Of course, in the end, Ellis realizes it's still a business and she has to make a living. That's why she's following her father's advice and finishing her degree. That's also why, in addition to working on her music, she's working on her business plan. She's says there are too many stories about how the music industry has taken advantage of artists. She wants to minimize that, so she plans to be prepared.

According to those in the know, though, there's no reason for her to worry.

"It's time for her to shine," says 9th Wonder, who is performing with Ellis at an April 12 show in Raleigh. "This is her show." - Creative Loafing - April 2009

"No borders, no boundaries"

No borders, no boundaries

Husky-voiced Charlotte singer 'just wants to be free' to make all kinds of music

By Mark Kemp
Special to the Observer
Posted: Friday, Aug. 14, 2009

The last thing a pragmatic father wants to hear from his bright, inquisitive little girl is, “Hey, daddy, I'm going to be a rock star.”

Jocelyn Ellis knew better than to tell that to her dad before packing up and heading to UNCC four years ago with common-sense plans to study international business.

“He's not exactly the artsy type,” the 22-year-old says. “He's like, ‘Music? That's a hobby. Go to school, get your degree, and when you get out, go get that job with that 401(k).'”

She listened, knowing full well that when she got to school, she'd be splitting her time between classes in global marketing and her rock-star dreams.

Ellis just may succeed at both.

If her live performances and recent EP with her band, the Alpha Theory, are any indication, she has the potential to rock the world: charisma; a soaring, soulful voice; piano chops that rival Alicia Keys'; songwriting skills; and something that the most original rock stars – from George Clinton to Erykah Badu – have in common: a boundless sense of adventure.

“I always had this feeling in my heart, and it was way beyond just me: I need to make music,” Ellis says, drawing out the word “need.” She's sitting at a window table at Smelly Cat Coffeehouse in NoDa, in jeans, a tight black shirt and hoop earrings. Bright, colorful art jumps off the cafe's exposed brick walls, punctuating her enthusiasm.

“Music is everything to me,” she continues, “when I sleep, when I eat, when I breathe... everything.”

Born to sing

Growing up in Durham, Ellis showed early signs of talent, performing for the first time at her preschool graduation.

“It made me feel so proud,” says her mother, Pam Kelly. “I often wondered where she got that ability, because I never felt comfortable in front of people like she does. It's a real gift.”

Kelly liked music, though, and she would play U2, Police and Stevie Wonder albums around the house, and listen to the exotic rhythms of world music on public radio. Jocelyn soaked it all in.

Neither of her parents was as obsessed with music. Her mother worked for a chemical company in Research Triangle Park. Her father, Mike Ellis, is a technical networking analyst with an energy company.

“I wasn't allowed to listen to hip-hop or R&B stations because of the language,” she says. “My mom loved Prince, but she wouldn't let me listen to him.”

By 12, Ellis was singing in church, playing piano and writing her own songs. But she craved more, and when she reached her teens at Southern High School in Durham, she got a boom box and would sneak out with her friend Seihdah Jenkins and listen to rap.

“We were at that rebel age, you know. That's when I started getting into Jay-Z, Linkin Park, Bjork, Alicia Keys, Three Doors Down, stuff like that.”

“Jocelyn was always into all kinds of music, from classical to rock to, you know, R&B and hip-hop,” says Jenkins. She and Ellis were tight: Like most teenage girls, they'd hang out at the mall, but the two spent as much time in music stores as they did shopping for clothes.

“I remember one time we got tickets to see Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson and Nelly, and we ended up getting backstage,” says Jenkins.

For Ellis, socializing backstage was no substitute for sitting in her room with music. “I had friends that I would chill with,” she says, “but I was pretty much of a loner.”

She didn't just listen to her CDs – she scrutinized them. “I would write notes on the flow and cadence and rhythm of the voices,” she says, “see where they would transition, where they would add horns or strings, where the music would drop out, what instruments they would use to get a certain feeling. I studied it like you would study for a test.”

Campus life

Ellis got busy when she arrived at UNCC, performing at every talent contest, showcase and poetry reading she could. “I was just this free bird. I wanted to take every opportunity possible and see what happened.”

What happened was that she started making a name for herself on campus as a husky-voiced, piano-playing singer of R&B ballads. At first she performed alone – just her at the piano, soulfully wailing lyrics that were more mature than the scribblings of your average first-semester college student.

“If Cupid had a girlfriend, would he shoot her in the heart?” she sings in one of her earliest songs. “Oh, Cupid, I got a question: Is it all that it's worth?”

Soon she was recording demo tapes, performing off campus at small venues such as SK Net Cafe, warming up for Wyclef Jean, appearing on a track by N.C. hip-hop producer 9th Wonder (Little Brother, Jay-Z), freestyling on public radio, and fronting a jazz group during a trip to Spain.

In the midst of all that, she met a guy in her managerial economics class whose rock band would change her life. Jesse Seibold played drums for the Alpha Theory, a trio that didn't want to be typecast as just another group of white dudes bashing out metal riffs.

He talked to his band – guitarist Jeff Taylor and bassist Nathan Woolard – about bringing Ellis to a rehearsal. “We were ready to try some different musical ideas,” says Seibold, 28.

It was perfect: Ellis didn't want to be typecast as just another pretty R&B singer, either. “I knew that wasn't all I wanted to do,” she says. “So I went to the rehearsal and it was just amazing. The vibe was just mind-blowing, phenomenal. We clicked immediately.”

With Ellis, the band blends jammy rock with funk, hip-hop and R&B. During practice sessions, they'll often improvise for up to a half-hour, creating melting mixes of Grateful Dead-like guitar curlicues and Miles Davis-style fusion jazz, Ellis singing over the top like a cross between acid queen Grace Slick and disco dominatrix Grace Jones.

World domination

The Alpha Theory has big dreams. “We're gearing up to take over the world,” says Taylor, 32. “It's been difficult, though, because if you say you're a rock band, the hip-hop and R&B venues look at you weird, and if you say you do hip-hop, it scares the rock venues.”

To Ellis, the Alpha Theory and the spate of multiracial indie bands coming out of New York these days represent something of a musical revolution. “I think people are coming to this realization now that, you know, I want to be free – no borders, no boundaries. You can see signs of it in all the arts. It's a movement.”

But what about her pragmatic dad – has he come around to the music? She smiles.

Throughout her college years, Ellis has kept him abreast of her 3.35 academic standing. “I just say, ‘Dad, look at the GPA. I'm doing well.'” - The Charlotte Observer - Mark Kemp

"Listen Up! "In the Beginning - EP""

I first came to hear about Jocelyn Ellis via former Little Brother member 9th Wonder. When I had a chance to listen to this young lady I was immediately blown away and have been eagerly awaiting new material from her. My wait is officially over, as she has recently released an EP with the musical backing of Nathan Woolard, Jesse Seibold and Jeff Taylor, collectively known as The Alpha Theory. The chemistry of the ensemble is unmistakable, with Ellis laying down her usual stunning, soul searing vocals and the band providing the perfect musical landscapes for her to shine. "Sugar Rose" has to easily be one of my favorite songs of the year thus far. Take a listen to the samples, then head over to iTunes or their website to discover your own. - This Is Real Music - Talib Nelson


"In the Beginning" - EP
Released, May 7th, 2009



The Alpha Theory exploded onto East Coast’s underground music scene in 2008, playing exclusive venues from Georgia to New York City. Since opening for Everclear, Raekwon, Citizen Cope, Grammy-Winner 9th Wonder, SafetySuit, and others, The Alpha Theory has quickly become a recognized name in the SouthEast. With Jesse Seibold on drums, Nathan Woolard strumming bass, Jeff Taylor electrifying riffs on guitar and music award-winning singer Jocelyn Ellis on vocals, The Alpha Theory delivers an unparalleled blend of rock, soul, funk, reggae and hip-hop, collectively defined as the genre urban-folk.

The birth of the bands eclectic sound came when Jocelyn and Jesse met in a business course in college and expressed a shared passion for making music. Soon after, Jesse invited Jocelyn to one of his band practices where other veteran musicians Jeff and Nathan were waiting. Their chemistry was instant as four no-boundary musicians decided to break all the rules and leave nothing out of the mix during their jam sessions. Combined influences from The Police, Led Zeppelin, Les Claypool, Jimmy Hendrix, Etta James and drummer Dave Weckel began shaping a dynamic sound that has given rise to musical revolution The Alpha Theory.

Melding the essence of their styles, The Alpha Theory released their debut EP, In the Beginning (2009), generating an immediate buzz that placed them in rotation at radio stations in the North Carolina region. With 9th Wonder produced hit “Sell Me A Cloud” and several songs from their EP spinning on airwaves, the band hit the road for a 10-city tour playing shows in New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Within just a year-and-a-half, the crazed response from the public has catapulted The Alpha Theory into a musical arena primed for national success.

From writing and producing their own music to delivering an undeniably entertaining on-stage chemistry, this up-and-coming band has what it takes to bring their music to the next level. Currently in the process of writing and recording their first full-length album, The Alpha Theory continues to push boundaries via their dynamic sound and unique cross appeal to lovers of all music genres. Whether traveling on tour, recording new projects or giving magazine and radio interviews, The Alpha Theory is doing everything it takes to break new ground and become a recognized name in the music industry worldwide.

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