OUR STORY (The TeeTones)

Past, Present, and Future

The TeeTones are a dynamic vocal singing group from New York City steeped in the traditions of soulful, streetcorner, vocal group harmony that draws from Doowop, Motown, and Rhythm-n-Blues of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Their Instagram profile sums it up similarly “…born from Brooklyn Doowop, raised on Philly Soul, and bowing our heads to Detroit Motown with soulful group harmony ya momma raised you on.” 

The TeeTones were formed by their long-time Manager, Laurence G. who, as a high school and middle school music teacher in the NYC school system, was looking to preserve the musical styles of the 50s, 60s and 70s and artform that very few could recreate authentically anymore. 

Artist-Manager, President of Night Roads Entertainment Inc. (and Artist-Management company), and now retired Music Educator, Laurence, originally managed a group from Brookyn, NY called Nu Millennium from around 2003 to 2010 before forming The TeeTones in the Spring of 2010. Nu Millennium had great success, entertaining all types of audiences with shows both public and private. However, after the group’s lead singer wound up in prison and the group began falling apart, Laurence decided to look for a new group and put an ad in the classifieds for singers who could sing in the styles of Doowop and Motown Soul. Laurence saw a group busking in Soho the day before and wondered how he could ask them to join or takeover for Nu Millennium for an upcoming gig he still had on the books. As luck would have it, a singer who sang frequently with the busking group answered Laurence’s ad for new group members. His name was Lee “Scout” Ford (who sang briefly with The Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and he would help Laurence find the remaining 3 members to complete the group; George Ellington (who played trumpet with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic), Rome “Brooklyn” Cohen (who sang with The Chords), and Gerard Giddiens (who sang with revues of The Delfonics and The Drifters). 

Without even hearing or meeting the new members (going only on “Scout’s” word), Laurence put them to the test by having them do one of Nu Millennium’s last scheduled gigs at a small restaurant in midtown Manhattan singing a few songs for a client’s birthday. It went really well and Laurence and the new members hit it off immediately, vowing to work together with Laurence as their Manager. Their first public performance would come a few weeks later at a Doowop Club Meetup event in NJ where the famed lead singer of The Earls, Larry Chance was in attendance as well as vocal group historian, Charlie Horner and both praised the group for their raw, exciting, and soulful performance. A few days before that first public performance, Laurence ran through a few names for this new group and suggested a name of “The Tunnel Tones” for the times the members would busk down in the tunnels of the subways with other groups looking for an echo and an audience to sing for. Laurence texted the suggested name of the group to Scout Ford who loved the idea for the name and Laurence started setting up the new group’s website. When Laurence realized “The Tunnel Tones” was kind of long for a group name, he shortened it to “The Tee-Tones” and eventually dropping the hyphen for “The TeeTones”; and the rest, as they say, is history. 

As Laurence worked to rehearse, market and brand the group to a more upscale look and feel by differentiating it from the typical street and subway singers many of them were accustomed to singing with, the demand for shows and performance opportunities began pouring in. Their first big break came in 2012 after doing private events for dignitaries like Stella McCartney and Rolling Stones Magazine co-founder Jann Wenner, when the Motown Museum of Detroit called Laurence to have the group sing for an exclusive fundraiser hosted by the legendary sir Paul McCartney of The Beatles and Motown label founder Berry Gordy. Singing for those two music legends and giants was one of The TeeTones’ proudest moments. In attendance at that fundraiser hosted by Paul McCartney, Berry Gordy, and The Motown Museum held at the former Steinway Hall on 57th Street in NYC were celebrities like Valerie Simpson, Michael Bolton, Kid Rock and so many more from The Motown family. 

The following year, an up-n-coming Pop singer named Niia Rocco asked The TeeTones to back her up for a big New Year’s Eve event at a NYC hotel sparking a meeting and rehearsal with the young piano player she was working with named Scott Bradley. 8 months later, Scott would invite The TeeTones to sing on a Doowop rendition he arranged of a Miley Cyrus song called “We Can’t Stop” on a video featuring talented and sultry singer Robyn Adele, and record it in his small Astoria, NY apartment. The song would be released a month later and go viral on YouTube sparking the success of the band “Post Modern Jukebox” that would gain Scott and his band a worldwide recognition and a great career that has lasted a decade and landed The TeeTones and PMJ a guest appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America. The video of “We Can’t Stop” by Post Modern Jukebox (PMJ), featuring The TeeTones, has garnered over 27 million views on YouTube to date. 

A few personnel changes would occur that year with the addition of first tenor James Reeder (who sang with New Jersey groups 14 Karat Soul and Choice) and the late soulful Bronx baritone, Bernard Taylor (who sang as a member of the Doowop group The Chords). Since then, The TeeTones have performed on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers in 2016 with the Portland rapper Amine on a Doowop remix of one of his songs and that Christmas recorded back with Niia Rocco at YouTube Studios in NYC. That following year, The TeeTones briefly recruited bass singer and eventual star of the Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud” (currently on tour with The Temptations), Jawan Jackson and recorded for the TJ Lubinsky PBS television special, “Doowop Generations” hosted by Sha Na Na’s Jon “Bowzer” that aired in the Spring of 2017. The TeeTones continued to open for legends such as Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, Little Anthony and The Imperials, Bobby Rydell, The Miracles, The Coasters, The Duprees and many more at venues like The Beacon Theatre and Wildwoods Convention Center and performed at the annual Spring Gala at The Apollo Theater. The following year, they appeared on CBS’ Late Show with Stephen Colbert recorded at the Ed Sullivan Theater for a hilarious skit entitled the “The Motown Debates” featuring The TeeTones (with temporary lead singer Gerard Burrell) and backed by Jon Baptiste and his band singing everyone’s Motown favorites with new lyrics about the Presidential candidates’ debates. After the show aired that evening on CBS, Stephen Colbert tweeted a photo of the The TeeTones writing, “Get them a Grammy NOW!”.  

As the group began hitting new heights over the next few years with exciting public and private events scheduled for 2020, the Covid pandemic hit and their livelihood almost came to a halt as events that were lined up quickly were canceled. Coming out of the pandemic a number of the members left for other pastures being replaced by current members Reginald Rowson, and former member of the group The Dubs and The Heartbeats, BabyRay Dalton, and Joe Rivera, former member of the famed group The Channels and his own Temptations Tribute group The Fellas, - with cameo appearances by original group members Rome “Brooklyn” Cohen and Gerard Giddiens (the latter who moved to Virginia during the pandemic) and guest fill-ins by singers Jonny Benavidez and Brian Davis (Mr. Taptastic). Between 2020 and 2023, the group would finally solidify its members again as James Reeder, Joe Rivera, Reggie Rowson, and BabyRay Dalton with occasional appearances by original members Rome “Brooklyn” Cohen and Gerard Giddiens while mourning the untimely passing of former and original TeeTones members George Ellington and Bernard Taylor

A few cover songs were recorded in 2022 and released on all streaming platforms including a tribute to The Temptations featuring original TeeTones member Rome “Brooklyn” Cohen with “It’s Growing” and a Doowop tribute to The Marcels with “Blue Moon” featuring guest recording artist, Jonny Benavidez and recently, The TeeTones have performed for Kenny Vance’s new documentary film release called “Heart and Soul”. More recordings and a possible album release are being planned for 2024. 

Over 13 years since it’s conception, the NYC vocal group The TeeTones, continue to help preserve the legacy of great Doowop, Motown, and Soul music through exciting performances of soulful a cappella group harmony (often with the addition of their upright bass player); as well as performances singing with accompanying instrumental tracks and shows with a full band backing them up, to adoring fans and audiences of all ages across the United States.