BMHOF Class of 2000
Janice Mitchell grew up in Buffalo, NY, with intentions of becoming a pharmacist, but little did she know that fate had a completely different plan for her. She has sung her way from WNY all across the globe, jazzing and bluesing it up, through a string of totally unexpected events. While pursuing her dream of studying pharmacy at the State University of NY at Buffalo, Janice worked in a shoe store across the street from the campus of SUNY Buffalo. As she hummed around the shoe shop, she caught the ear of an associate whose boyfriend's band was in need of a passionate singer. Jan got the job and this was the turning point of the whole direction of her career.
After working with her first band, Bridge, , she sang with Alive and Well, a group which also featured Tony Galla and Jimmy Calire of Raven. After the group broke up, Janice moved to New York City, where she met, producer and songwriter Eugene McDaniels, who became a "spiritual brother" and agent to Janice.
Her credits of the 70's and 80's appear as Afreeka Trees, a former stage name given to her by Gene. After their move to Los Angeles, in an era and locale where the record industry flourished, it was he who opened the door to the studio backup singing that she did for an endless list of artists, whose names include Nancy Wilson, Melba Moore, Les McCann, Bobby Womack, and Robbie Krieger of the Doors.
A solo performed by Janice on organist Jimmy Smith's album, "Sit On It", resulted in an offer for a recording deal with his record company. It also led to a personal call from Stevie Wonder inviting her to perform with him in Washington D.C. in concert for the Congressional Black Caucus. Among her movie credits is a singing appearance in Sidney Poitier's "Uptown Saturday Night" and Taylor Hackford's "The Idolmaker".
In the 80's Janice spent 5 years touring the world, 9 months at a time, with Ray Charles as a Raelette. She sang backup vocals on his recordings of America and also on his Christmas album. It was while touring with Ray that she met late husband, Brian Mitchell, nephew of bassist, Red Mitchell. The road was home as they toured together for the next few years.
After a plane accident in Bloomington Indiana, where Ray's small plane missed the runway and was totaled, Janice and husband Brian decided they no longer wanted to fly on a daily basis, and moved to Reno Nevada. From there she worked the casino showrooms of Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Northern Nevada, which were only a commute away. When the marriage ended, Janice accepted a year's contract entertaining on Celebrity Cruises. Each week she would leave NYC heading to Bermuda with Celebrity Cruises. In 1995 she decided to move back to the Buffalo area to be with her family. This is when she met her new partner in life and in music, Jim Beishline and began working with the Jim Beishline Trio. They enjoy playing around Buffalo as a quartet and also as a duo. Their joint efforts earned them the title of Best Small Jazz Band, awarded by BUFFALO MUSIC AWARDS 2000.
Back - 2000