Who’s Bad’s live performance is an unrivaled celebration of pop music’s one true King. Their power-packed performance of Michael Jackson’s expansive catalog has ignited crowds on every continent and can only be described as a jaw-dropping, musical must-see. As the longest-running Michael Jackson tribute band, and the only one to predate his untimely passing, Who’s Bad has awed even the skeptics, selling out nearly 50 venues in the United Kingdom including London’s O2 in December of 2010, the venue where the King of Pop was slated to end his career with a 50-show “This Is It” concert series.
Beyond this unparalleled achievement, Who’s Bad has checked some of the world’s most famous pavilions off their ‘to-do’ list, selling out their first tour of China with stops at Ningbo’s Grand Theatre and Hunan Grand Theatre in Chengsha. Never neglecting Michael’s U.S. fans, Who’s Bad has packed The House of Blues franchise all across the United States; rocked DC’s 930 Club and returned to their native Chapel Hill, NC boasting larger, more eagerly-awaited performances with every romp around the globe. Sold-out shows from Colorado’s Bluebird Theatre and LA’s Gibson Amphitheatre and Romania’s Sala Palatalui to Teatro do Bourbon Country (Porto Alegre, Brazil) tell the story: no corner of the earth is safe from this infectious party production.
Who’s Bad has earned its name by paying studious attention to Michael Jackson’s every original groove and gravity-defying dance move, boasting over 100 years of professional experience and a team of dancers with resumes that include Broadway productions such as Phantom of the Opera. Vamsi Tadepalli (Who’s Bad founder, composer, and saxophonist) assembled a cast of North Carolina’s premiere musicians and, from Who’s Bad’s inception, believed in the band’s boundless possibilities. The velvety vocals and pinpoint choreography of frontmen Joseph Bell and Taalib York’s combined with the six-piece band’s synchronized dance routines, blaring horns and down-deep rhythms, results in a performance delivered with soul and precision superseded by no one but the King himself. They’ve shared stages with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, The Backstreet Boys, The Four Tops, Boys II Men, and hip hop superstar, Pitbull. Captivated fans include LIVENATION’s Anthony Nicolaidis who calls Who’s Bad, “the real deal,” and Michael Jackson’s longtime friend and manager Frank DiLeo who proclaimed after Who’s Bad show in Nashville, TN, “the show was great….Michael would have been proud!”
Whether you idolized the Jackson 5, fell in love to Human Nature, or learned to moonwalk to Billie Jean, Who’s Bad is THE ULTIMATE music-and-dance driven Michael Jackson homage. This band of professionals relentlessly elevate the legacy of pop music’s King, always pushing themselves to be more precise, to raise the level of excitement and awe, while embodying Michael Jackson’s mission to bring people together of all races, genders, and cultures through music. As the curtain opens on a Who’s Bad performance, every MJ fan feels the adrenaline, screams at the sight of that unmistakable silhouette, and succumbs to a surefire Michael Jackson sing-along. The energy is purely magnetic, the musicianship is first-rate, the dance moves deftly inspired. Who’s Bad is a tribute befitting a King and their high- octane execution of MJ’s music and dance has catapulted them to the exclusive rank of Ultimate!
Taalib York was born in Brooklyn, NY to an Afro-Arab father from North Sudan and an Afro-American mother. A true artist, Taalib’s passion goes as far as visual art and poetry. York started singing and dancing at the young age of 7, mimicking his lifetime idol Michael Jackson, emulating him at every talent show in his area. Never did he imagine that his obsession would lead to paying tribute to his idol across the globe. He began developing his voice singing in songs Arabic and English. While traveling back and forth to his father’s homeland, York was influenced by Arabic artists such as Cheb Mami, Natasha Atlas, and Nacey Ajram. In addition to recording his own music, he has written and co-written for various pop artists under major labels such as Motown and Def Jam Records. As you can imagine, Taalib also has a special knack for the art of dance, which led him to choreographing leading award-winning dance teams. Taalib is also one of the original members of Who’s Bad and hopes to continue his homage and tribute to the King of Pop for years to come, but when it comes down to it actions speak louder than words. You’ll watch Taalib perform, you’ll see the influence Michael Jackson has had and you’ll agree: the similarities between the two are simply amazing.
Joseph Bell, a.k.a. “JoBel” is originally from Hartford, Connecticut, and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a natural performer. To hear and see him sing is to realize you are bearing witness to a legend in the making.
This singer/dancer/songwriter/actor is simply one of the best! HE SOUNDS LIKE THE KING OF POP! He can hit ALL THE HIGH NOTES night after night! Travis Payne, lead choreographer of Michael Jackson’s “THIS IS IT” tour, and choreographer, Frank Gatson (dancer in the original “Smooth Criminal” video and today’s top choreographer for superstar Beyonce Knowles) both worked with Joseph to enhance his performance.
Joseph Bell’s very first contract was with “Walt Disney World” in Florida for Top Of The World Entertainment singing and dancing in front of orchestras and bands. He now collectively has over 25 years of experience on stages around the world.
Joseph has also appeared in the TV movie “The Jacksons. An American Dream”, he was on Ed McMahon’s Star Search, appeared on the silver screen in “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and sang on live TV for Baby Face and songstress Toni Braxton.
Michael Esteban is an aspiring dancer, choreographer, and teacher from Colonia, NJ. His passion for dance was first developed dancing with FR3SH Dance Company, featured on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew (Season 4), who performed all over the East Coast, West Coast, and Canada. Since then Michael has continued his training in NYC’s professional dance studios such as Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Center. He has recently been training under LaJon Dantzler, Smiles from Step Up 2, with his dance collective LaFuerza. Now signed with McDonald Selznick Associates, better known as MSA Agency, he hopes to continue spreading his love and passion for dance to whomever he meets!
Archie Logan started his life as a musician at the tender age of 8 years old. His uncle saw the gift God had instilled in him and helped Archie nurture this gift in the church, but soon after Archie began to venture out to play different styles of music.
Archie Logan is known as a hard hitting pocket drummer whose smoking grooves raise the level of excitement in any musical situation. “Archie is a bass player’s best friend, because he locks it in and stays there”; as quoted by bass player extraordinaire Chip Shearin. He is a true work horse and strives to be the best he can be as a musician and businessman.
Archie has shared the stage with many of the industry’s top artists, gospel and secular alike. This list includes the incomparable Roberta Flack, Morris Day and the Time, Vikki Winans, Jennifer Hudson, Charlie Wilson, Karen Clarke Sheard, Dorinda Clark Cole, Smoky Norful, Avant, Mario, Marvin Sapp, Rev Timothy Wright, Naughty By Nature, Malcolm Jamaal Warner and his band Milestone, Yahzarah (aka Purple St. James), independent R&B artists Dirty Sol and the list goes on and on. He also had the opportunity to play the Republican National committee Party with speaker George W. Bush Jr., the 2008 inauguration of President Barack Obama, 2 Super Bowls, in addition to many arenas and theatres.
Archie is on a continual journey to spread great music across the world while bringing an unrivaled level of excitement to the stage. Archie lives and quotes these rules: “In this acquisition of wisdom the first is silence, the second is listening, the third is memory, the fourth is practice a lot, and the fifth is teaching.” With that being said, he is a musician’s drummer and his goal is to keep making the grooves feel good.
Archie proudly endorses Pork Pie Drums and TRX Cymbals.
Justin “JC” Martin. Born into a military family on September 1st, 1985, JC Martin didn’t have a musical background as a child. It wasn’t until the later years of high school that he decided to learn to play guitar as a way to impress a particular young lady. Though the girl was lost, the guitar stayed and he has been playing ever since. While still in high school, Martin was giving the chance to play with various go-go bands in the Washington D.C. area until he decided to attend North Carolina Central University. It was there that his musical curiosity began to thrive. Martin began to focus all of his time and energy to emulating his heroes while developing his own unique voice. From Greg Howe to Wes Montgomery or from Spanky Alford to Paco de Lucía, Martin didn’t restrict himself to only one musical direction. It was at this time that he was able to become one of the most sought after guitarists in the state all while obtaining both a bachelors’ and master’s degree in Jazz Studies.
Over the years, Martin has had the honor of playing with a plethora of great musicians such as Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, 9th Wonder’s “Wonderband” and many more. Martin is a talented performer, arranger, and composer. He is currently working towards recording an album of original compositions when he isn’t touring with Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band. Martin proudly endorses PRS Guitars.
Ray McCall has been playing music since the age of 12, initially dabbling in playing the string bass. It wasn’t until Ray made the transition to trumpet that Ray felt he had found his musical niche. This was exemplified in Ray’s early musical achievements, such as sitting first chair in All-County Band and being a member of the All-District band. Ray also began expanding and building his musical talents by joining his school chorus and show choir. These varying experiences with music at such a young age would be just the beginning of how much a role music would ultimately play in his life.
While attending Triton High School in Erwin, North Carolina, Ray’s musical abilities and interest in music grew with his introduction to marching and jazz band. He continued to receive awards and accolades, and, in 1996, he attended North Carolina’s Governor School summer program for music where he studied with some of North Carolina’s best musicians and directors.
Ray continued his involvement in marching and jazz band when he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNC, Ray received much guidance from Jim Ketch and David McChesney, who helped Ray improve his quality and style of playing. Ray accredits his years as a “Marching Tar Heel” with building his musical skills, but, more importantly, with allowing his personality and charisma to shine.
Ray has been playing and gigging professionally for 6 years, playing mostly solo events in his earlier years and then working most extensively with “Who’s Bad.” Ray brings an energy to the stage that is impossible to fight and will surely get you on your feet, dancing to the King of Pop’s legendary music. “Who’s Bad” brings you a high-energy and powerful show that is rivaled by few, and Ray has made it his goal that it stays that way!
Aaron McCoy Jr. Saxophonist for Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band, graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, with a BA in Music performance and production and a concentration in Alto Saxophone. Aaron is the Music Director at Mitchiner’s Grove Baptist Church, Franklinton, North Carolina. He has been a woodwind instructor at South East Raleigh High School, Knightdale High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, and he was also the announcer and student instructor for Platinum Sound Marching Band. While at Shaw University Aaron was a member of the Concert Band, Jazz band and Pep Band, where he became the Pep band Director. After graduation Aaron recruited for the Jazz ensemble for the University.
Aaron has performed with such artist as Physhodelic Soul, Liquid Pleasure, and his own band Mixed Water Band which was the house band for Zydeco Downtown owned by the two time super bowl star Antwan Harris, Soul Blues Singer Lacey, The O’jays’s, foreign Exchange, Peabo Bryson, The north Carolina Symphony, opened up for Yolanda Adams, recording artist Coco McMillan, Gerald Hinton, North Carolina Jazz Band, Joey Holloway Project, Donald Lawrence, LeeAnne Faine, Shirley Caesar, Melvin Williams, and others.
Aaron was born in Norfolk, Virginia. His early schooling was in Virginia Beach, Va., where he fell in love with the saxophone, and music. His craft was enhanced during his high school years at Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, Virginia, under the direction of Mr. Elston Fitzgerald.
Daniel Rychlec began dance training at the Nutmeg Ballet in Torrington, Connecticut. His performance will speak for itself, but don’t be fooled — he is no newcomer to the stage. He was an accompanying member of BalletNet in Columbus, Ohio, the Washington Ballet and the Atlanta Ballet.
Dan also performed with the touring company of the Phantom of the Opera before joining the Broadway cast for a run of twelve years, who he made appearances with on the Rosie O’Donnel show and the Late Show with Conan O’Brian.
Dan joined with Who’s Bad in May 2010 doing a stint of 10 shows in China and has since then toured the United Kingdom and the continental US with the band, always excited for what the future may bring!
Vamsi Tadepalli, Whether paying tribute to the King of Pop in front of thousands of fans, performing small group jazz for discriminating listeners, writing and arranging, or teaching, Vamsi Tadepalli invests all of his musical pursuits with a confluence of creativity, professionalism and versatility.
Born and raised in North Carolina to Indian parents, Tadepalli is the first American-born member of his family. His parents, scientists by trade, placed a high value on the arts and on music in particular. Accordingly, he was exposed to Indian Classical Music and Dance from his earliest years. At the age of 8 he began formal musical study on the keyboard at the Yamaha Music School in Durham, NC. Although it wouldn’t be until high school that Tadepalli would study sitar, his early exposure to Indian Classical Music had a broader impact: its emphasis on improvisation undoubtedly contributed to Tadepalli’s affinity for jazz, America’s improvised classical music.
After taking up the saxophone at the age of 12 and several years of private instruction, Tadepalli entered Charles E. Jordan High School in Durham. Jordan boasted an exceptional jazz combo program rivaling those of many colleges, and Tadepalli began listening to and emulating recordings of such masters as Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane. He also started performing professionally in the Raleigh-Durham area.
Tadepalli continued his study of jazz at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving both academic and music scholarships and majoring in Jazz Performance. He also studied with outstanding altoist Justin Robinson and sought out the expertise of legendary bebop guru and exponent Barry Harris, participating in Harris’ workshop at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He has shared the stage with Harris, Slide Hampton, Eric Alexander, Joe Farnsworth, Antonio Hart, Vincent Herring, and Jamey Aebersold, and has appeared at the North Sea Jazz Festival and Smoke Jazz Club in NYC.
Concurrent with Tadepalli’s commitment to jazz was an interest in marching band, both as an instrumentalist and as a writer/arranger. He taught himself to play the mellophone in order to participate in Drum Corps International, marching in Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps and The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, and received the Distinguished Service Award from the latter in 2002. He has written for the UNC Marching Tarheels, the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, and writes and arranges the wind book for many competitive corps style high school marching bands, including West Johnston High School (a 4 time Bands of America Semifinalist).
Tadepalli has also taught extensively, serving as the marching, brass and woodwind instructor at Jordan and West Johnston High Schools, the jazz director at West Johnston High School, the Assistant Band Director at Rogers Herr Middle School, and as a longtime private saxophone instructor.
In 2003, Tadepalli founded Who’s Bad, a group dedicated exclusively to performing the music of pop icon Michael Jackson. As manager, arranger, saxophonist, keyboardist and choreographer of the group for the last 9 years, Tadepalli has had the opportunity to employ his full range of skills, performing saxophone and dance routines at 150+ shows across the globe per year. The group has performed for crowds numbering into the thousands and has shared the stage with Aretha Franklin, Boyz II Men, the Backstreet Boys and The Four Tops.
Vamsi is currently off the road, stationed in San Francisco and acting solely as manager/owner of Who’s Bad.