About Sacred Hearts
Leroy Ellington’s Sacred Hearts is a powerful and soulful group, featuring some of Cincinnati’s most prominent musicians.
Leroy Ellington on Lead Vocals and Saxophone, Mike Grosser on Bass Guitar, Marcos Sastre on Guitar and Vocals, Charlie Fletcher on Keys and Vocals, Max Gise on Guitar and Shawn Elsbernd on drums and vocals!
Stay tuned for a full length LP release from this powerful ensemble in February 2019!
In the last 30 years, Leroy has established himself as one of the region’s most proficient and soulful vocalists. A “MASTER SHOWMAN” with the “on stage” confidence to please ANY CROWD!
Leroy has been nominated for 5 Cammy Awards (Cincinnati Music Awards). In 1999 he was nominated for Best R&B Instrumentalist, for his saxophone work, and again in 2000 & 2001 when Leroy received nominations for Best R&B/Funk Vocalist as well as Best R&B/Funk Band, and in 2013 Leroy was nominated as “Best Musician.”
Leroy started his career in the 80’s, playing with “Ritchie & The Students”, led by “Richard Johnson” founding member of “The Students”, a 50’s Doo-Wop group with a few hit singles in the late fifties, their big hit was “I’m So Young”, which was covered by “The Beach Boys” and was also in the soundtrack of the movie “Cry Baby”.
During those years Leroy had the pleasure of sharing the stage with a number of national acts including: The Platters, The Chi-Lites, Lou Christie, and Little Anthony, Sam Moore , The Coasters, Danny & The Juniors, Dion and many many more!
In the 90’s, Leroy joined Stacy Mitchhart in his band, Stacy & Blues-U-Can Use, on sax and backing vocals, during that time Stacy released the CD, “Blues Transfusion”. Leroy is faetured on saxophone and co-wrote a few of the songs. During those years Leroy had the pleasure of sharing the stage with a number of national acts including:Lonnie Mack, Bobby Blue Bland, Jr. Wells, Clarence Carter, Lonnie Brooks, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and many more.
In 1994 Leroy started his own band, Leroy Ellington & The E-Funk Band, this band was a staple on the Cincinnati music scene for over 20 years, performing Night Clubs, Casino’s, Corporate Events of all types, and nearly every high profile event the area has to offer. Includinga 20 year run as the Monday Night Headliner at THE TASTE OF CINCINNATI. During those years Leroy had the pleasure of sharing the stage with a number of national acts including: Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels,Tower of Power, The Commodores, Glen Campbell, War, and more!
Around 2010 Leroy realized that he really missed playing “blues”, and that it seemed like the place he felt most comfortable musically,
so he began to transition away from the R&B/Funk sounds of The E-Funk Band, In 2012, as a side project, Leroy started playing as “THE LEROY ELLINGTON BAND”, Placing 2nd at The Cincinnati Blues Challenge in 2012, and placing in the top 3 since 2012. AND…since 2013 “THE LEROY ELLINGTON BAND” has placed 2nd in The Dayton Blues Challenge!
The Leroy Ellington Band has been one of the most popular blues bands in the region since 2012,ﾠIn 2016 our EP, “Blue Eyed Blues” was named “Best Self Produced CD by The Cincinnati Blues Society in 2016.
In January of 2017, “Blue Eyed Blues” was judged by industry experts in Memphis TN. at The International Blues Challenge in Memphis and was a semi finalist.
In May of 2015, Leroy was featured as a guest vocalist with THE KENTUCKY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, as they paid tribute to the music of Chicago & Blood, Sweat & Tears. Leroy’s role was to bring to life the soulful sound of legendary singer David Clatyon Thomas, lead singer of “Blood Sweat & Tears. His performance was powerful and soulful, and in a local review, the writer wrote: “It’s uncanny how much Leroy sounded like David Clayton Thomas!”(View amateur footage of performance)
In early 2018 Leroy started his latest recording project with a select group of Cincinnati’s best muscians, the CD entitled “SANCTIFIED” will be released in February 2019. Stay tuned!
Mike Grosser has been playing bass guitar for over 50 years, during that time he has traveled and performed in all 50 states, as well as internationally.
Just after graduation from The University of Kentucky, Mike began his travels playing Hotel and Casino’s worldwide, with touring acts: Pure Sound, Command Performance, and Glenn Schmidt.
After years on the road, Mike returned home to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, where he went right back to work playing music with The Lusters, being admitted to the NKY Music Legends Hall of Fame in 2018.
Other Cincinnati groups that Mike has been a member of include: Wild Blue Yonder, opened for Delbert McClinton, Merle Haggard, Toby Keith, Dirks Bently, Martina McBride, Willie Nelson, KY Head Hunters, Little Feat, Sugarland, and many more.
Ben Walz Band – recorded 2 full LP’s for Ben.
Leroy Ellington Band – A member of Leroy Ellington Band since 2013, Mike provides the “THUNDER” that makes the band so powerful. During that time Mike has co-written and co-produced Leroy’s debut EP, “Blue Eyed Blues”. Which was the winner of the 2016 “Self Produced” as named by The Cincinnati Blues Society. Opened for Delbert McClinton and others!
Leroy Ellington Sacred Hearts – In 2017, Leroy decided to head back to the studio with a group of select players from the Cincinnati region. This time to complete a full length CD, that will be released in February 2019. Mike has co-written many of the songs on this album.
Stay tuned for more!
The first music that Marcos heard was the classical music played by his mother and the Latin recordings played by his Argentine father.
His earliest influence to popular music was his older brother of 11 years Michael. Michael, an accomplished drummer would let young Marcos sit on his lap as he played along to the recordings of Ray Charles, James Brown, Lonnie Mack, and other Blues, Soul, and R&B artists from the late 50’s early 60’s.
After extensive touring early in his career, Marcos returned to his home town of Cincinnati, Ohio to concentrate on recording, writing, and producing his own music. He founded the band The Bluebirds.
Through his career Marcos has performed on stage with such artists as Victor Wooten, Bernard Purdy,, The Neville Brothers, Dave Mason, Kenny Poole, Cal Collins, and more! Today Marcos continues to perform abroad with Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky’s finest, Including: The Bluebirds, Aja, a Tribute to Steely Dan, The Leroy Ellington Band, Leroy Ellington’s Sacred Hearts and more!
Marcos considers his most notable effort the formation of the group The Bluebirds. Over their 23 year career they have 11 releases, the group is getting ready to release their latest recording, and they continue to play live weekly, and have more projects in the works.
Marcos hopes to release his first solo project in 2019!
When asked why after such a long career he decided to do a solo project Marcos said “This is a departure for me, the dynamic of all the members working together to finish a CD project without killing each other is a lot of fun, and the dynamic of multiple writers on a project helping each other get our tunes in shape, or helping to create parts on other peoples songs is a process that is very fullfilling. That being said, I’m finding that doing all of the work myself provides a different kind of fulfillment, it really challenges me to be objective, and perhaps more creative.”
“My good friend Noah Hunt was going to sing on Greg’s record, I was contacted to record him in my studio. We got the basic tracks finished but they were very basic. In order to give Noah more of a “song form” to work with I added some guitar parts, and some solo bits…When Greg got the files, he liked what he heard, so he kept those parts on the final release.”
Originally from Oklahoma, Max Gise has made his home in Cincinnati since 2004.
After completing his Masters in Jazz Studies in 2006, Max has stayed busy as a jazz guitarist and educator. Mr. Gise is an adjunct professor of Jazz Studies at North Kentucky University since 2012. Prior to NKU, he worked as an adjunct music professor at University of Cincinnati at the College Conservatory of Music from 2006-2012. He has been an instructor at the summer Jazz camp at CCM since 2008 and worked as a clinician at several tristate area High Schools (Walnut HiIls, Lakota West & East, Butler Tech, Taylor, Turpin, Loveland). Additionally, Max maintains a full guitar lesson studio at the Cincinnati Music Academy in Silverton, Ohio.
As a performer, Max has worked in several different settings and musical styles. Max plays regularly with his own jazz organ trio (Max Gise Trio), jazz duo with singer Annette Shepherd, Eclipse Movement (an original Hip-Hop Jazz Band) and Northside Jazz Ensemble. Max has recorded and produced three original albums with Eclipse Movement(Eclipse (2007), Around The World (2012), and Blind (2015).Both Eclipse Movement and Northside Jazz Ensemble have won Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in Best Hip Hop and Best Jazz respectively in 2008 & 2009.
Max has been recorded several times and he has worked with several well-known Cincinnati jazz artists (John Von Ohlen, Steve Schmidt, Pat Kelly, John Zappa, Brian Hogg, and many others) and some international jazz artists like Ignacio Berroa, Rufus Reid, Ray Vega, Freddie Bryant, and Kenny Werner. Max has also performed with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and the Montgomery-Blue Ash Orchestra. Additionally, Max plays with the Leroy Ellington Band, Just Strange Brothers, the Devou Daddies, and the Jack Garrett Band. He is also the assistant music director at Christ Church UCC in Fort Thomas, Kentucky since 2009.
He began his collegiate career at the University of Oklahoma in 1997 and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. In 2005-2006, he was a graduate assistant at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he completed his Masters in Jazz Studies in June 2006. He has studied guitar with Jim Smith, Freddie Bryant, Larry Hammett, and Dick Gordon Jr.
When he’s not gigging or teaching music, Max enjoys spending time with his family and his children. Outside of music, Max enjoys reading, running, chess, baseball, and cooking.
Charlie started playing keyboard in his teens. After graduation, moved to Cincinnati to perform with a local band Uncle Buster. That band eventually became BLAZE.
These days Charlie is working with The Blue Birds in Cincinnati and The Little Kings in Tampa Florida. The Blue Birds have SEVERAL record releases as a band and Charlie has released a solo project entitled:
“We Are Who We Are”, in 2004.
During Charlie’s career he has worked with, recorded with, and shared the stage with some of the best in the business!
FOR NOW, too many to name here…stay tuned.
Needless to say, we’re proud to have Charlie on board as a member of “The Sacred Hearts!”
Shawn Elsbernd is a self-taught, working drummer and instructor. For six years he toured with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus, playing over 400 shows every year. Since then he’s been grabbing every opportunity he can in every genre of music.
A modest musician, Shawn considers his career to have been by accident. “I lucked into performing. When I started playing the drums, I just called everyone I knew with an instrument to come play with me,” he explains.
Shawn also enjoys photography. But, he’s not very good at it.