Get in the Spirit as Elisha “Atlas” Parris Headlines the Jacksonville Jazz Festival

Elisha “Atlas” Parris, a four-time veteran of The Jacksonville Jazz Festival, headlines it for the second time this year. He is a perfect fit for the festival’s stage. “I was born into music. My mother played piano, and my father played trombone, and I grew up in the church,” says Parris. He relates that both his father and mother encouraged him to pursue music, although the road to performing jazz wound through lots of gospel.

“The group for me that made me feel like jazz was the right choice was the Yellow Jackets. They are my favorite jazz band of all time. If you listen to their music you can hear a gospel undertone.  That is how most jazz musicians started out, playing gospel music,” says Parris. Jazz and gospel are similar because they both come from the same place. They both come from the soul. But, the difference with jazz is there are no boundaries–jazz is freedom.

Parris wasn’t always a solo artist with a fourth jazz album in the works. He started out in a band called Segue with four other artists in the 1990s. All of the artists parted on good terms and went on to solo careers. His first solo jazz album was At Last, released in 2010, followed by a sophomore album Live at PEinc Underground released in 2013. Along the way he collaborated with Victor Wotton and the group Allen and Allen. He has performed his particular style of urban jazz for audiences (including the famed Allen Green and Yolanda Adams) in venues all around the world. Some of those venues include the Florida Theatre, Sunfest and his favorite place to play, The Historic B Sharp Café in Tallahassee, Florida. “The next place I would love to play is Bill’s Place in Harlem, New York. It has the same vibe as The Historic B Sharp Café,” says Parris.

In addition to cultivating a burgeoning performance career, Parris is founder and CEO of Parriscope Entertainment, Inc., which he runs with his three business partners, Robin Williams, Erika White and Adrian Plummer. Not only is Parriscope Entertainment, Inc. a recording label but a music business where artists can rehearse, find management, record and perform on a live stage. They also host events.

However, there is more to this man than music and the business of it. When it comes to his motivation and the most important people in his life, he says with ease, his kids and grandkids, even though he doesn’t look old enough to be a grandfather.

“I want the audience to take away from my performance something spiritual, something that touches them in a deeper place,” says Parris. He will take center stage on May 22 at 9pm.



About Britney Broussard