Meet the Band... A Little About Each Member
Monique Bennett - Lead Vocals
Monique is a self-taught vocalist & has been singing since a very young age. She was inspired by Classic Rock, R&B, Hard Rock & Heavy Metal vocalists/bands which is where she honed in on her vocal style. At 16, she had her first taste of performing solo in front of a live audience in her high school talent show where she performed her rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You". In her early 20's she started performing at karaoke events & also even winning a karaoke contest. After winning the karaoke competition, she wanted to start working on forming a Heart Tribute Band. She put a flyer up in a local music shop & Kevin Bennett answered the ad. Monique & Kevin have performed in several other musical projects together, such as The Division Bell - a Tribute to Pink Floyd (backing vocalist), Rivendell Lost (lead vocalist) & First Snow - a Tribute to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (backing & lead vocalist). They are also collaborating on writing original music.
"I love paying tribute to my #1 Female Vocal Rock Idol, Ann Wilson. Heart s music to me & the execution of their career embodies to me the power that women can have in the music industry. They are great examples for the young women today coming into the music scene of how you can be something more than just a pretty face, that women have substance in the industry & deserve to be respected as such! Heart has done it with total class & grace! Thank you ladies for your inspiration & wonderful music!"
Karen Bright - Guitar & Vocals
Karen started taking guitar lessons at 11 yrs old, but stopped after a few months because "I wanted to learn Stairway to heaven, but my teacher wanted me to play The Turtles (turn turn turn)." From that moment she became self taught.
At 17, Karen was invited down to her first jam session with friends. "They were really good, I however, was terrible lol". That day really lit the fire though. About a year later, searching the Scene Magazine, there was an ad for a female rock singer. "Not having the confidence that anyone would give me the chance as a female guitar player, I thought, I'm not a singer, but what the hell I wanna play in a band. Funny thing, they didn't have a guitar player yet. it was bass, keys, and drums, and I was on vocals. Third practice I surprised them by bringing my guitar." Karen played with the band Tequila Child for 6 years before moving in 94 to Las Vegas. She's played out with many talented musicians over the years in Cleveland, Vegas, and California, doing original and cover material. She moved back to Cleveland recently after being gone for 22 years. "Being a huge fan of Heart all of my life, the opportunity to join this band was an unexpected gift."
Kevin Bennett - Lead Guitar & Vocals
When I was 8 years old, I was Ace Frehley. That was me on the cover of Kiss “Alive”, that was me on the poster on my wall. As the youngest of 4 growing up in the 70’s, I was surrounded by music. My oldest sister gave me the gift of my love for Led Zeppelin, Heart & Bad Company. My brother, Rush, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple & my other sister; everything in between.
On my 10th birthday, my parents gave in & bought me my first electric guitar. Having no amplifier to use, I commandeered my sisters stereo & in doing so, destroyed said stereo. After a few years of lessons, I discovered my ears were better than my eyes & started to play along with everything on the radio and dissecting all the hand me down albums in the house. Along with all the great bands I grew up with & the heavy metal I was listening to, this formed the basis of my playing style.
After all these years listening & learning from so many fantastic guitarists, there’s always something
new to be learned. With Straight On, I get to go back to one of my first loves of music with Heart.
Ron Abrahamsen - Keys
Inspired by his Dad, Ron started playing a Hammond organ in his parent's living room when he was just a kid to entertain his family. Before embarking on his career in Television, he was busy playing in various bands in Cleveland's local music scene. His career required him to move out-of-state for a number of years, where he went on to work at three different TV affiliates as a camerman, adding an Emmy and numerous awards to his achievements. Moving back to Cleveland in the nineties with his wife and three daughters, he has been playing for years locally with Cleveland's renowned band Teaser.
Drew Sodee - Drums
Drew started out taking guitar lessons along with his brother. He then moved to bass & then concentrated on the drums when he was 11 after a friend got him interested in playing along with KISS albums. Being self-taught & realizing that drumming could be much more than just a timekeeping role for the band to follow, he was heavily influenced by progressive rock & metal bands of the 80's such as Rush, Queen, Triumph, Kansas, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Marillion, Iron Maiden, King Diamond & Jetho Tull.
Most of Drew's life has been spent rehearsing & playing in the greater Cleveland & Youngstown areas sharing stages with EdGuy, Proto-Kaw (Kerry Livgren from Kansas), Breaker, Shok Paris, Joey Belladonna from Anthrax, Michael Stanley & a myriad of popular musicians & bands. Original Projects: Forced Entry, Raphael, Infra-Red, Desolate Soul, Element 92, Byron Nemeth Group, Ego & In-Veritas.
Cover Projects: Professor C-Bass & Uncovered. Tribute Projects: Signals - A Tribute to Rush, Permanent Waves - A Tribute to Rush, First Snow - Transiberian Orchestra Tribute influenced holiday show & Straight On - A Tribute to the Music of Heart. Drew endorses Soultone Cymbals.
Jerry Olinger - Bass
Jerry started playing drums at age 9. At age 11 he switched his interest to guitar. When he was 16 he decided to try bass & found his calling. While he was studying commercial art at University of Akron he played in quite a few cover & original bands. In 1992 he decided to leave the music scene & pursue other creative interests & finish up an engineering degree.
In 2010 he found himself being drawn back to doing what he loves most, playin' bass.