This is the first of a periodic feature showcasing local musicians who are rising, and may be headed for bigger and better things. They perform locally on a regular basis in Buffalo, and are some of our best cultural assets. These are our “must see” musicians… catch them while you can. – Elías Damián Benavídes
The Dutchess of Bass, as she’s come to be affectionately known, Zuri Apppleby has followed a musical path from the earliest days. Verse is about to hit the stage at DBGB in Buffalo’s historic Allentown neighborhood. Zuri on the bass, and her bandmates on their respective instruments. The Neo Soul Tuesdays show has been running for 2 ½ years, and the crowd this evening is a reflection of that. An eclectic mix of musicians, music lovers, neighborhood staples, the usual bar patrons, and not a seat available. You’ll have to find a spot.
This is Zuri’s first night as a lead vocalist, sharing the leads with band founder Mike DiSanto. Usually, there is a featured vocalist, but tonight is for the musicians, and Zuri does not disappoint.
Zuri first ventured into playing music in the third grade as a vocalist in her church. “I wanted to be like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston”, Zuri says, while we hung out at the corner of the patio in an unusually chilly July evening. Her parents are well respected musicians in the community, Rodney Appleby, one of the most professional musicians to come from Buffalo, and Linda Appleby, a music teacher who is best known as a musical mentor and the unofficial fairy godmother of the Buffalo Music scene. They were incredibly instrumental in introducing her to something she would end up loving. After stints with piano, vocals, French horn, guitar, the bass fell on her lap, as she was asked to fill in on bass with her dad’s youth Jazz ensemble, and it took off from there.
Zuri’s path took her to Performing Arts High School, then to the Marines, where she continued playing the bass. With the Marines field band, Zuri got a taste of the touring lifestyle, where she played in over a dozen states, and spent 3 years in New Orleans. There, she got to meet several well known local musicians and participate in Mardi Gras events. After her enlistment, she returned to her church gig, attended college, and never gave up the love of playing the bass.
The life of a musician has taken the 26 year old Zuri on a road that leads to other great musicians. She has performed with local acts such as Nikki Hicks, Laura Aiisha, WaZuri, Forealists, Preach Freedom, but tonight, it’s Verse. After a bit of a timid start, I think she has the audience hooked, with confidence growing after each verse. By the time it was over, they ran through some seriously deep cuts by Amy Winehouse and Prince, then they bring the house down with the Stevie Wonder hidden gem, ‘Do I Do’. The star shines quite brightly this night.
Recently, Zuri participated in a Bass/Nature camp featuring instructors Steve Bailey, Chuck Rainey, and Anthony Wellington. It taught her about music and its relationship with energy, life skills, awareness, musicianship, humility, and her specific role as a professional bass player. One of the things that stuck with her was a quote by Chuck Rainey, “If you want to be a better musician, be a better person”.
Zuri has an endorsement with Warwick & Framus. She can be seen performing weekly at DBGB on Tuesdays, Habibi Sheesha Lounge (Elmwood) on Wednesdays, and various other places on the weekends. She has the look, the talent and the attitude that make the local music scene better. She also has the drive to take it to the next level, it’s just a matter of time.
You can follow Zuri and her pursuits on her website – click here.