Meet the Band
Jake Graves (Guitar):
- 1956 learned to play Frankie and Johnie on the piano with my Grandmother
- 1961 auditioned for the Christ Church Boys Choir and sang for 3 years. Studies Piano under Dave Perry for 3 years
- 1964 Formed The Mercy Men with Cousin Bill Blackford, Lindsey Stewart, & Kent Little. Played in 5 states, two promotional records (45’s) and most booked band in central KY during the period
- 1973 The Mercy Men Band started a 38 year sabbatical.
- 1996 through today have sung second bass in 5 choirs around the country. Now active in Central Christian Church Choir and Kentucky Men’s Regional Chorus.
- 2011 Revived The Mercy Men with Kent Little and Lindsay Stewart as original members and Charles Mealing and Tim Wills as earlier members.
Timothy Wills (Bass):
- 1965 – Bought my first bass guitar and amp so I could learn to play and join a garage band with some friends in Paris, KY
- 1966 – Formed the Paris band “The New Breed”
- 1967 – Joined another Paris band “The Contentions” but left the band in the fall of that year to move to Lexington to attend UK
- 1970 – Joined the Mercy Men when original bass guitarist, Bill Blackford, left to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps
- 1971 – Left the Mercy Men in the fall to attend the UK College of Law
- 2011 – Asked by original members, Jake Graves, Kent Little, and Lindsay Stewart to join them in reviving the fabulous Mercy Men!
Sean Cutshall (Sax):
- 1994 – Sean first begins playing the saxophone in middle school band class (thanks, Mr. Hummel!)
- 2000 – Starts his first rock and roll band, The Bare Feet. The music world has yet to fully recover
- 2001-2005 – Attends the University of Kentucky, studying Arts Administration and Music Performance on a jazz scholarship. During this time, Sean receives several awards at music competitions, and performs on an album which was nominated for a Grammy.
- Spring 2006 – Works for the Artist Relations division of Yamaha Musical Instruments
- Fall 2006 – Begins studying law at the University of Kentucky
- June 2010 – Elected president of the Bluegrass Area Jazz Association
- December 2010 – Sean creates Lexington’s first afrobeat band, Big Noise
- 2011- Joined the Mercy Men playing tenor and baritone saxes
Whit Whitaker, a native of Detroit, MI who now resides in Lexington, KY, joined the Mercy Men after members of the group approached him about joining the group after seeing him perform on stage. He earned his Bachelors of Music degree from the University of Kentucky, where he studied voice under acclaimed voice professors Dr. Everett McCorvey, Director of Opera Studies and founder of the internationally known American Spiritual Ensemble; Prof. Emeritus Phyllis Jenness, founding Director of Opera of Central Kentucky and former Director of the world-traveled Lexington Singers; and vocal coach Prof. Cliff Jackson, noted accompanist for opera soprano Kathleen Battle.
Prior to attending the University of Kentucky, he attended Kentucky State University where he had the privilege of studying noted Spirituals and art song composer and conductor, Charles Lloyd, Jr., who is presently Director of Voice and Choral Studies at Southern University at Baton Rouge.
Whit began his journey into music at age 8 when he began playing violin, eventually playing with the Memphis Youth All-City Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit All-City and Region 8 Orchestras. Whit happened upon the world of vocal music at age 15 via his state renowned SoutheasternHigh School Men’s Glee Club, eventually transitioning to singing classical music, and he has been singing ever since. He has performed abroad in Europe and throughout the United States as a soloist of Negro Spirituals, Anglican Church music, sacred music, and Broadway show tunes and as a member of many choral ensembles, including the American Spiritual Ensemble, the Lexington Singers, the Kentucky Bach Choir, and the Brazeal Dennard adult and youth Chorales. Whit has also performed many roles on local and regional stages including Sportin’ Life (Porgy & Bess), The King of Siam (The King and I), Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote (Don Quixote), Tom Robinson (To Kill a Mockingbird), George Murchison (A Raisin in the Sun), as well as garnering a few opera roles including Bardolfo (Falstaff), Mr. Koffner (The Consul), and Betto (Gianni Schicchi).
Whit is a Senior Account Clerk and YMCA fitness instructor and personal trainer who continues to make frequent guest appearances as a solo vocal artist and as a contributing percussionist and lead singer with the Mercy Men, while pursuing his Master’s Degree in Arts Administration. He has been a PROUD member of the MERCY MEN since 2011.