Marcus Anthony Shelby is a composer, bassist, bandleader, and educator who currently lives in San Francisco, California. His work focuses on the history, present, and future of African American lives social movements and music education.
In 1990, Marcus Shelby received the Charles Mingus Scholarship to attend Cal Arts and study composition with James Newton and bass with Charlie Haden. Currently, Shelby is the Artistic Director of Healdsburg Jazz, an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, and a past resident artist with the San Francisco Jazz Festival and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Shelby has composed several oratorios and suites including “Harriet Tubman”, “Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio”, “Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”, “Black Ball: The Negro Leagues and the Blues”, “Green and Blues”, and a children’s opera “Harriet’s Spirit” produced by Opera Parallel 2018. Shelby also composed the score and performed in Anna Deavere Smith’s Off-Broadway Play and HBO feature film “Notes from the Field” (2019). Shelby is also the voice of Ray Gardener in the 2020 Oscar-Winning Disney Pixar film “SOUL”. Shelby has also worked with a range of artists including Angela Y. Davis’ “Blues Legacies and Black Feminism” (2019), Joanna Haigood’s “Dying While Black and Brown” (2014), Margo Hall’s “Bebop Baby” (2013), and “Sonny’s Blues” (2008), the Oakland Ballet’s “Ella” The SF Girl Choir (2013), The Oakland Youth Chorus (2014), and many other productions over the past 23 years. Shelby has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 2013 and has worked with the Equal Justice Society for over 20 years. The Marcus Shelby Orchestra has released 5 CDs–“The Lights Suite”, “Port Chicago”, “Harriet Tubman”, “Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”, and “Transitions”.