The Jenkins Project

Formed by Michael Jenkins in 2014, ”The Jenkins Project” is an ensemble of established lead vocalists and veteran instrumentalists. This Philadelphia/New York-bred collection of musicians have performed with each other in various groups over the past three decades. Together they create a jazz-grounded blend of instruments and voices that serves up an eclectic palate of music wrapped around the distinct stylings of five seasoned soloists and five excellent musicians.

Michael Jenkins (Founder) – For more than thirty years, he’s performed primarily as lead vocalist with the noted hometown Philly-based bands, Time in Motion, Master Peace, Horizon and Fortune Vinson Cruse (FVC). Michael is featured on two of FVC’s CD releases. During his life span in music he’s also had occasion to perform with a wide range of notable performers, such as Billy Paul, Najee’, Rachelle Ferrell, Sid Simmons (former piano player for Grover Washington Jr.), jazz great Eddie Green, George Howard, Alfie Pollitt, and Alan Blake, just to name a few. In 2010 Michael released my first solo CD, From Deep Within.

 

Donna Jones – A native New Yorker, she’s performed in venues such as Sardis, The Bitter End, and the Apollo, where she was a contestant. One of her most memorable moments was being asked to sing before Martin Luther King III and Dexter King during the dedication of naming a highway after their father, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Donna joined on to be a member of an accomplished chorale, Fruits of the Spirits, which has appeared in Tuscany, Italy and Puerto Rico. They also were the opening act for Sweet Honey and the Rock, at the Grand Opera House. This dynamic chorale sang with the likes of the Philadelphia Choir and accomplished jazz artist, the late John Blake Jr. In Delaware, she was also a featured vocalist with the fabulous Fortune, Vinson, and Cruse jazz group, and the soulful “old school” sounds of The Wish singing group. Multi-talented Donna appeared in the Priest Tyaire Production, “Torn Between Two Fathers, (with Christopher Williams and Shirley Murdoch), Wrong Shade of Black, and others.

 

Pat Mercer – Pat was a background vocalist in the internationally known R&B recording group, “Brenda and The Tabulations”. As a member of “Destiny” they auditioned successfully, and their group name was changed to theirs. She toured with the likes of James Brown, Al Greene, The Manhattans, and The Temptations. Pat traveled extensively with Brenda and The Tabulations from 1971 until 1976. She sang 1st soprano on the hit recording “It Was Right on the Tip of My Tongue”. Not long after that first professional musical experience, Pat performed as the featured vocalist for John Gibbs’ U.S. Steel Orchestra. Later, she met songwriter and lead guitarist, Kenny Dockins, Michael Jenkins, singer/songwriter, and bass player, Mr. Eugene Shields. She was also introduced to the up-and coming contemporary Jazz pianist, Mr. Dennis Fortune and his trio. Under that contract she recorded a Disco song entitled “Thunderbolt”, on the Voyage record label. The recording hit the Billboard Disco and R&B charts.

 

Robin K. Carney-Victor – Robin Carney (Victor) was born and raised in Camden, NJ.  She began singing at a young under the tutelage of Barbara Ward Farmer of Faith Tabernacle Church of the Living God. At a young age, Robin ministered songs such as “Praying Spirit”, “To the Glory of God” and “I’m God’s Child.”

Robin also worked with the late Yvonne Kersey and Carla Benson to continue developing her vocal skills during her formative years. She performed in various productions including “The Wiz”, “FAME”, “West Side Story”, and others.  It was during that time that she performed her first jazz piece “Night in Tunisia” with Mr. Bill Jolly of Philadelphia. Robin went on to sing and record with the following local groups: Wagner Alumni Gospel Choir, Arneld DuPree & Company, Edwin Hawkins Music & Arts Seminar Choir, Emmanuel United Pentecostal Church Choir, Enon Tabernacle Music Ministry. Robin has also provided background vocals for various artists.

In recent years, Robin has performed as a solo artist at various events across the country. She has also performed the National Anthem for the Philadelphia 76’ers on several occasions.  She currently shares her time with the Lydia Hilliard Experience and the Jenkins Project.

 

Barry Lewis – He’s performed on the stages of the Sidney Australia Opera House, and with Opera Delaware, and with The Utah Festival Opera Company. Barry is multi-talented and has held acting roles, either as a principle player or chorale singer in the operas: ‘Madame Butterfly’, ‘Don Giovanni’, ‘Rigoletto’,’Barbiere de Siviglia’ and the wonderful ‘Porgy and Bess’. His chorale performances have been with: Peter Nero and the Philly Pops Festival Chorus, Cathedral Choir of Mother A.M.E Church and the New Skyliters A Cappella Jazz Chorale. He continues, always, to pursue his love of music with renewed passion.

Dennis Fortune leads a collection of excellent Philly-based musicians, rooted in jazz has performed around the world in their own bands and for numerous recording artists at every type of venue imaginable. There masterful jazz artistry is captured on numerous recording projects of their own and backing up major artists. They have come together to blend their musical talents with the five vocalists above to create a sound that’s rooted in experience, musical acumen and the sheer love of sharing their love, music!

 

Dennis Fortune (Musical Director) – Dennis’ musical development was influenced by several styles including R&B, jazz, and classical. Dennis received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Dickinson College and has taught music for the School District of Philadelphia PA, and implemented several educational jazz programs. Since the late 70’s Dennis has performed with a wide variety of artists including the Delfonics, Ester Satterfield, Jean Carne, Billy Paul, George Howard and Rachelle Farrell. Dennis served as musical director for Billy Paul and toured extensively throughout Europe and South America.

 

Michael Cruse (Bass) – Michael, a.k.a. Cruse, began performing as a percussionist at age five with his father, who was a percussionist for Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Cruse’s destiny as a bassist evolved while studying at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, Pa. Cruse was influenced by R&B and jazz. Cruse has toured internationally with Rachelle Farrell, Billy Paul, the Intruders, the Delfonics and Norman Connors.