TEDDY BEAR BAND
Bill Jolly is a 3-time Emmy Award-winning composer/ arranger/ musical director and keyboardist. He’s been featured twice in Keyboard Magazine and has composed music for HBO, MTV, NBC, ABC, CBS, Showtime, Columbia Tri-Star Pictures, Coca-Cola, McDonalds and numerous companies globally.
Bill has been the musical director of The Emmy Awards,The Marian Anderson Awards, The Rhythm and Blues Foundation Awards, Susan G. Komen’s “Honoring the Promise” Gala (at the Kennedy Center) and Radio One's 25th Anniversary-featuring Beyonce'. Bill has arranged musical tributes to Earth Wind and Fire, Billy Joel, Wynton Marsalis, Queen Latifah, Bon Jovi, Shirley Caesar, Nina Simone, Hall and Oates, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Chaka Khan, Bill Withers and Berry Gordy (to name a few) with all the artists in attendance.
Bill has performed musically for five U.S. Presidents as well as both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. He’s performed onstage with Celine Dion, Usher, Michael Jackson, Pink, Michael Buble’, Shania Twain, Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, Aretha Franklin, Michael Bolton, Quincy Jones, Jill Scott, Bonnie Raitt, Tyrese, Paul Schafer, Patti LaBelle and more.
Bill directed the Grover Washington, Jr. Reunion Concert, Dionne Warwick and Friends and conducted the orchestra for the Sony/PBS/Live Nation TV special “Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia” as well as the late Teddy Pendergrass’ DVD, “From Teddy with Love.” He also appeared in Teddy’s “Unsung” episode on TV-One.
Bill’s theater credits include Stephen Stahl’s Lady Day, The Billie Holiday Story (Off- Broadway, London and Paris tours), Norma Doesman, It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues, Ain't Misbehavin', and the gospel play, The Gate Called Straight.
Bill was was inducted into the Overbrook High School Hall of Fame as well as the Phila. and West Chester Universities Distinguished Alumni group. Bill also received the African American Museum’s “Living Legend Award.”
In addition to being a music producer and composer, Brett Jolly is one of the top professional live and recording session bassists in the world. Originally a bassist for super-star Teddy Pendergrass, the list of performers whom Jolly has backed or collaborated with throughout his entire career is almost an endless ‘who’s who’ in all musical genres: Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, Olivia Newton John, Ashanti, Earth Wind & Fire, The OJays, Ashford & Simpson, Eddie Money, Cab Calloway, Grover Washington Jr, James Ingram, Peabo Bryson, The Delfonics, The Stylistics, The Intruders, Johnny Taylor, The Futures, Oran Juice Jones, Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, Bonnie Raitt, Pattie Labelle, Nile Rodgers, Bill Withers, Stephanie Mills, Kool and the Gang,The Miracles, Harold Melvin's Bluenotes, The O'Jays, Marilyn McCoo, Earth, Wind and Fire, Billy Paul, Grace Little, Bunny Sigler, Questlove, KC and the Sunshine Band, Jill Scott, Brian McKnight, Dionne Warwick, Tyrese Gibson, Boyz II Men, Chuck D,and Usher. and more.
Some of Brett's notable live performing credits with vocals were being tabbed as an orchestra member on the PBS special, "Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia" where he also had solo singing parts in addition to bass duties. Brett's vocals even earned him a choir member spot singing back up for Celine Dion onstage at Madison Square Garden. Brett produced his own solo CD, Bridges, in 2010, is the host of “Jolly-Jam”, a popular Weekly Philadelphia Open Mic show and remains consistently in demand for both studio and live performance work.
He is a native and life long resident of Philadelphia, hailing from Overbrook High School and West Chester University. Brett is a self-taught musician although he comes from a musical family with his father Elton being a noted Gospel singer and his brother Bill a decorated composer, keyboardist and musical director. Brett has the rare talent of "perfect pitch" allowing him to learn songs in seconds from one listen. Brett has teamed with vocalist Toni Trower to produce the popular "Melody Grams" for people wanting to send messages of music and the soon to be released, "Bridges of Peace" project to help children of poverty stricken Uganda.
ROBERT WAWA LEGRAND
Robert "Wawa" LeGrand is the only member of the 2002 Pendergrass comeback tour "Teddy Bear Band" who Teddy personally chose that was also a member of his "Teddy Bear Orchestra" from the 1970s and early 80s. The longest tenured Teddy Pendergrass musician, Wawa came to Teddy after playing in the Mary Wells "Queen of Motown" band.
Wawa is the only non-Philadelphian in the band as he hails from the "Charm City" of Baltimore and received his musical education from Maryland's Towson State and Morgan State Universities. His guitar style is a unique mix of his R&B, Jazz and Rock influences from George Benson to Mark Farner, Leslie West and Jimmy Page that has made him a popular session and live recording career musician for a wide range of musical styled artists.
Thus, his talents on guitar have taken him touring around the world and on the biggest stages with some of the brightest stars in the music industry such as performing with: Marvin Gaye, The Commodores, The Isley Brothers, Patti Austin, Joe, Ciara and more. Wawa has also played on multiple Grammy Award winning albums with various artists such as the O'Jays, Maysa and of course, Teddy Pendergrass.
Wawa's guitar chops have earned him numerous sponsorships over his career, most notably Mesa Boogie Amplifiers. Wawa is a noted Musical Director on the Smooth Jazz scene for many talents including the bands of Cindy Bradley, Paul Taylor and Gary Taylor.
He has appeared on major TV shows performing on the David Letterman Show, Craig Fergusen Show and Ellen.
Wawa is currently producing a new solo album recording project and teaches private guitar lessons to a select few fortunate students.
Johnnie Croom hit the music scene in the late 70s first as a child prodigy on drums performing with many of the top bands hailing from his hometown of Philadelphia. He would become a multi-instumentalist on Keyboards, Synthesizer FX, guitar, bass and of course, percussion.
In 1990, after completing a successful tour with soul singer, Jeffrey Osbourne, Johnnie was asked to play keyboards for a newly forming R&B group calling themselves Boyz II Men. After numerous contributions to the developmental success of the Boyz II Men debut tour, Johnnie earned the position of Musical Director allowing for his creative hand to help their famous meteoric rise.
It was during this period that Johnnie Croom birthed and established his own Croom-N-Music recording studio. Johnnie also worked as Musical Director for the late hip-hop songstress, Aaliyah who died tragically in a plane crash in 2000.
In 2003 Croom became a hand picked member of the "comeback" tour Teddy Bear Band for Teddy
Pendergrass. He has since shared the stage with such musical greats as: Babyface, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Brandy, MC Hammer, TLC, New Edition, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and more.
Croom has also performed at countless top level entertainment productions such as: The Grammy Awards, The American Music Awards, The MTV Music Awards, US Presidential Inaugarations and The Tonight Show, The Letterman show and the Arsenio Hall show.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, Robert Landham began his formal musical studies in grade school at age 10, and in three years, began attending the prestigious Settlement Music School, where he received conservatory training in clarinet performance. During this time, he also began studying the saxophone, and by age 16, toured Europe with the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir.
Graduating from the University of The District of Columbia with a bachelor's degree in music performance, Mr. Landham went on to study harmony with famed John Coltrane mentor, Dennis Sandoli and was a member of the 2002 "Comeback Tour" Teddy Bear band for the iconic super-star singer, Teddy Pendergrass.
Robert has since played in a variety of notable musical settings, performing and/or recording with: Barry Harris, Nat Adderly, Gladys Knight, The Dells, Grover Washington Jr., Wallace Roney, Christian McBride, Stanley Turrentine, The Temptations, Dionne Warwick, Joey DeFrancesco, Stanley Clarke, and many more.
A music recording artist, producer, performer and singer-songwriter in the dance and R&B genres, Don Connor is most widely known as a deeply soulful styled singer often compared to Teddy Pendergrass whose former "Teddy Bear" backing band, he now often fronts as guest vocalist.
Connor was first exposed to music as a child in the 1970s, through his father, Julius Connor, who was a Gospel Choir Singer in the Good News Bible Church of Jersey City, NJ. It wasn't long before a young Don joined his father in the choir and went on to sing in many more NJ area Gospel Choirs as the family moved around North Jersey and word of his young vocal talent spread. Connor's father was also a fan of R&B music and first played the likes of Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Luther Vandrosss and especially... TeddyPendergrass for young Don, whom his father felt his voice naturally resonated with.
At PS 23 school in Jersey City and Dickinson High School... Connor followed the performing arts and sang in Christmas performances and school plays. From there he went to Hudson County Community College where he auditioned and earned a spot singing with the "Sounds of Praise" World Touring Gospel Group. An athlete in addition to having musical talents, Connor played many sports and his brother, Lamont White, would play in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. The brothers shared Uncles in Robert and Hakeem Bell of Jersey City that are members of the famous R&B group, Kool in the Gang, with whose influence, Connor was able to play private performances for many NFL and entertainment luminaries weddings and special events, gaining him acclaim in some prominent circles for his voice and showmanship. The Bell Uncles further inspired Connor to strike out on his own in his musical career and to showcase his talents in the Greenwich Village / NYC club circuit... often performing at open mics or as a vocalist at venues such as: The Blue Note, The Village Underground, and The Cafe Wha? in the late 90's. Here he would gain the attention of and meet major music artists like WyClef Jean, Brian McKnight and Naughty By Nature. Vincent "Rock" Brown of NBN befriended Don as they were from the same North Jersery area and would encourage Connor to audition at the Apollo amateur night in NYC...where he would go on to win 2 rounds of the famous talent contest in 1998 and 1999 and gain the opportunity to open for the likes of Kindred, Anthony Hamilton, Drew Hill and contract with ECHO US Records and Vista Sounds. There, under producer Jeffrey Collins, Connor wrote and recorded House Music for the label sales in club music scenes most popular in London and Euro markets while also working on his yet to be released solo project as a singer.
After many years working in music entertainment, Connor took some time off to raise his daughter and was enjoying doing Karaoke for fun when his vocal and live stage performing talent was discovered by Wawa LeGrand, former guitarist of the legendary Teddy Pendergrass. In 2022, LeGrand tabbed Connor for singing duties fronting the 20Th Anniversary Teddy Pendergrass Band Reunion shows honoring Teddy's historic 2002 comeback tour. In addition to fronting the reunited Teddy Bear Band, Connor is now also back in the studio to finish his solo singing "Rock/Soul" styled debut CD ... with original members of Teddy's former band in the recording production. Connor has been quoted, "Teddy is my main influence. My career is coming full circle but really just taking off... it's like it's meant to be."