Band Member Bios

Brenda "Sookie" Harris 
A Grand Rapids singer songwriter who celebrates the journey of the creative spirit and is purely passionate about connecting with people through music. From her earliest childhood, she has always had a song in her heart and a desire to share it. Music influences span many genre and include timeless voices of Ella, Etta & Aretha, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Nina Simone, BB King, Greg Allman and Marvin Gay. A compelling vocalist with an edgy Southern Blues and Rock style, she is a dynamic storyteller and also features some hearty blues harmonica and flute.

Darryl "Sweet D” Matthews

A preacher’s kid who fell head over heels in love with the guitar at age 14.  He grew up playing gospel music in his father's church until he had the opportunity to branch out and perform at various local venues as one of the original members of the local award winning band, Blue Molly.  While the band toured around West Michigan, performing on some of the largest stages including Meijer Gardens, Darryl caught the bug to truly perform and entertain his audience using his undeniable sexy, soulful, bold musical style.  When the opportunity came along to form Blue Soul Express, it was a no brainer for him.  With a wide appreciation of all music, he has been most inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughn and Robert Cray and also enjoys the exploration of pursuing original pieces.  He looks forward to continuously growing as a musician.


Mark Hicks
A lifelong resident of West Michigan, Mark has been connected to music for most of that period as well. Coming from a musical family, learning and playing multiple instruments in school, church, and at home was a natural thing to do, starting from a young age. To this day, many years and life experiences later, the music remains as a major element of his journey.  Whether jazz, blues, classical or songs of praise, making music is Mark’s passion.  In his words, "Good music makes the world a better place; I feel privileged to be a part of the process."

Mike "The Rev" Phelps
Affectionately known as “The Rev”, not only for his love of fast cars but also because he was an ordained minister in a lively Pentecostal church for many years where he developed a love for soulful gospel, righteous blues, and a heart thumping dose of “running the aisles” funky stuff that defies labels! After 20 years in the ministry and music of the soul, Mike found himself severely lacking in Vitamin F(Funk) and this led him on a new musical pursuit. Residing in Omaha, Nebraska, he met up with some pretty funky dudes and formed a band, Back Alley Blues, who featured a fantastic variety of eclectic Blues and entertained countless appreciative Midwest audiences. In 2014, he transferred back to West Michigan where he encountered the delightful and vibrant personalities that form Blue Soul Express. As he describes the first time he sat down with these cats, "My chill bumps had chill bumps," it was so delicious. “I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to play with some of the greats over the years, but none more uplifting and fulfilling than Blue Soul Express…..I’m honored to not only call them bandmates, but also friends”.  Look for The Rev to “gospel up” some stuff from time to time, because you can take the boy out of the church, but you can never really take the church out of the boy!


Mark Jilbert

"I've been playing drums since sixth grade, originally joining band because all the cool kids were doing it.  After a few years, I realized I couldn't stop hitting things and had rhythms in my head that my hands and feet needed to express.  I've now spent most of my life trying to learn how to express these rhythms.  This musical journey has brought me to a place where blues is happy, groove is king, and everyone likes it a little funky."



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Blue Soul Express