Sunshine Becker 7/23/2011 @ Mann Center (Philadelphia) with Furthur
|Birth name||Sunshine Flower Garcia|
|Also known as||Sunshine (Garcia) Becker|
July 1, 1972 |
|Genres||Rock, Psychedelic rock, Jazz, Gospel, World, R & B|
|Associated acts||Furthur (2009-present)
The Everyone Orchestra (2012-present)
Jay's Happy Sunshine Burger Joint (2013-present)
Sunshine Becker (born Sunshine Flower Garcia on July 1, 1972 in Oakland, California) is an American singer, who currently performs backing vocals for the band, Furthur. Despite her maiden name, Garcia, she is not related to Jerry Garcia, an incorrect assumption made by some because of her involvement with Furthur, a post-Garcia incarnation of the Grateful Dead. Similarly, despite her first name, Sunshine, she is not to be confused with Sunshine Kesey, daughter of Ken Kesey and Carolyn Adams (aka Mountain Girl or MG), Jerry Garcia's second wife.
Sunshine was born in Oakland, CA to Gabriel Garcia and Juddee Kawaiola (née Watrous). Her father, who is of Hispanic descent, is from New Mexico and is a talented musician, playing primarily tenor saxophone, but also well-versed in double bass, piano, and drums. Her mother, who is of Dutch, French, and English descent, is from San Francisco, and studied theater in college. Sunshine's parents met and married in Oakland, CA. She has a brother, Sean Gabriel Garcia, who is 4 years older, and who selected the middle name, Flower, for her when she was born. She grew up in the East Bay area in Oakland, CA and Hayward, CA and attended James Logan High School in Union City, CA, where she graduated in 1990. Sunshine credits her father, who taught her how to play piano at age 6, with her earliest musical exposure, having had a profound influence on her ultimately pursuing a musical career. She was also directly influenced by her grandfather, Frank Garcia, who had an orchestra in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1950s and 1960s.
In the sixth grade, at 11 years of age, Sunshine learned to play the recorder and flute. As a freshman in high school, she joined the school's prestigious marching band, eventually becoming the flute/woodwind section leader and in 1988, they won a competition at the Fiesta Bowl. Although she did not participate in her high school choir, she was a member of the jazz band in which she did some singing. She also routinely sang songs at home with her dad, frequently transforming poems that she wrote into vocal numbers. As a junior, Sunshine joined the school's highly regarded speech team, in which she became proficient in impromptu public speaking. During her time in high school, she also became increasingly cognizant of the uplifting effect that singing had on people's moods, which further attracted her to the vocal medium. Pursuing her interest in singing, she secured the lead role in her high school's production of the Tony Award nominated Broadway musical, "Baby". Following high school, Sunshine attended California State University in Hayward, CA from 1990–1992, where she majored in Expressive Arts, and where she had two vocal instructors. Disillusioned, however, with the highly regimented and somewhat restrictive vocal approach imposed by her instructors, who discouraged the use of free expression and improvisation that she craved, Sunshine ultimately left Cal State to explore other opportunities. Fortuitously, she moved into a house in San Francisco with several other aspiring musicians, including Jeff Pehrson of the bands Passenger, Box Set, and The Fall Risk (and who also currently sings backing vocals for Furthur), as well as Jim Brunberg (of Box Set) and Jay Shaffer (of Passenger). Over the next few years, Sunshine worked variously as a vocalist with Oakland Youth Chorus' touring a cappella ensemble Vocal Motion, jam bands Passenger and Box Set, the funky drummer Ziggy Modeliste, and as a studio session singer. She ultimately concentrated her efforts in 1995 with SoVoSó (meaning "from the SOul to the VOice to the SOng"), a highly acclaimed improvisational a cappella group which evolved from Bobby McFerrin's vocal ensemble, Voicestra. She remains very active with SoVoSó and continues to perform on occasion with Passenger. She also functions as an instructor for Young Performers International, a nonprofit children's performing arts company in San Francisco, leads ongoing workshops teaching the art-form of CircleSinging, and provides private vocal coaching.
In late 2009, Furthur decided to add backing vocals to their newly formed band. Zoe Ellis, a well-known Bay Area vocalist who has been a member of SoVoSó since 2005, was initially approached by the band, as she had previously been a backing vocalist for Phil Lesh and Friends, having performed on the 1999 album, Love Will See You Through. Zoe, who is the sister of Dave Ellis, former saxophonist for Bob Weir's RatDog, accepted the offer to join Furthur. However, her friend and former singing partner, Caitlin Cornwell, who was also approached by Furthur (and who also provided backing vocals for Phil and Friends and who is a former member of SoVoSó), was not able to commit. As an alternative choice, Zoe recommended Sunshine, her friend and singing partner from SoVoSó (and a longtime fan of the Grateful Dead), who readily accepted. Sunshine's and Zoe's audition for Furthur occurred at the Philharmonia benefit concert in San Francisco on December 20, 2009, where they performed with Lesh, Weir, and Jackie Greene. The backup vocalists' debut Furthur show was on December 30, 2009 (although they also performed at the live rehearsal sessions at the Mill Valley Masonic Center on December 27 and 28). Zoe toured with Furthur until March 12, 2010; Jeff Pehrson subsequently joined Furthur as a backing vocalist on May 24, 2010.
On November 21, 2008, December 26, 2009, and January 28, 2011, Sunshine sang the national anthem before the Oakland Golden State Warriors basketball games, and on April 6, 2010, before the Oakland Athletics baseball game. On December 12, 2010, she performed, along with Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Jackie Greene, and Jeff Pehrson, at the annual Philharmonia benefit concert in San Francisco. She also appeared on December 3, 2011 at Run for the Roses: A One-of-a-Kind Musical Evening, a Rex Foundation benefit show, where she, along with John Kadlecik, Melvin Seals, Greg Anton and Robin Sylvester, performed a Jerry Garcia Band tribute set.
Sunshine attended her first Grateful Dead show on May 25, 1992 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA. She first met her future husband, bass player-turned-executive salesman Bill Becker (who played in Passenger), that same year, and then reconnected with him in 1999. They married in September 29, 2001 and had a son, Geddy Becker (named after Rush bass player, Geddy Lee), on June 8, 2009. When not singing, touring, and teaching, Sunshine spends her time writing her own songs, exploring the outdoors, experiencing live music, and enjoying her family at home in the Bay Area.
- "World Jazz A Cappella" (1997)
- "Truth & Other Stories" (1998)
- "Bridges" (2000)
- "Seasonings" (2002)
- "Crack The Nut!" (2004)
- "Then & Now" (2005)
- "Snowflakes" (2009)
- 1997: National Champions, Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival
- 1997: Winner, Studio Album of the Year - "World Jazz A Cappella", Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards
- 1999: Winner, Izzy, Outstanding Achievement In Music - "Mother May I" (for score, with Robert Moses' Kin Dance troupe), Isadora Duncan Dance Awards
- 1999: Nominee, Best Jazz Album - "Truth & Other Stories", Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards
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