Vocalist Chelsea Oxendine Leaving Band

by Gargs Allard

The 10-piece band, The Savants of Soul, whose recent 4-track EP release, Sunday Best,  was heavily steeped in Chelsea Oxendine’s vocal prowess , will be playing tonight (August 11, 2016) as featured act of the Free Fridays show at the Bo Diddley Plaza in downtown Gainesville without Chelsea, who has announced she is leaving the band.

Formed in 2010, as the brainchild of bassist John Gray Shermyen, Wilson Stern (now of Jamcentric Learning), singer Justin McKenzie and drummer Alexander Klausner (who is such a prolific drummer that he played at the Gator Growl at the ready and rough age of 13), the band enjoyed a ground-swelling of success in its first few years.

The band opened for Gainesville-native and national soul-sensation Charles Bradley when the Bo Diddley Plaza was relaunched on February 25 of this year.

Savants’ first album, Downtown Soundhad Christina Holder as its front-woman, along with frontman Justin McKenzie, who is still with the band.

About her leaving the group, Chelsea Oxendine told Tune Groover, “I had to resign from the band, because to support myself in a financially comfortable way, I couldn’t tour four+ times a year (as they are gearing toward doing in the future).”

She added, “Leaving work frequently isn’t good for my professional career. However, I am still professionally pursuing music as a singer/songwriter on my own terms, and will be out on the Gainesville scene soon alongside Richie Stano.”

The band has no immediate plans to replace Chelsea. Instead, Justin McKenzie will now become even more the band’s centerpiece, according to Alexander Klausner, with trumpeter Mandy Moo filling in for Chelsea on the female lead vocals.

“We’ve got a girl [in Mandy Moo] who can really sing her ass off and play the trumpet at the same time,” Alex said.

“Our goal is to continue to grow the band,” Alex said, “to not only be a force to be reckoned with on a local level but on a national level as well.”

Vocalist Justin McKenzie was interviewed by WUFT radio personality Glenn Richards for its Free Fridays feature about tonight’s show, which will start at 8 pm tonight and go for about two hours.

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