Members of the throwback band Matt Stansberry & The Romance are arranged in a circle in the back of the Oklahoma Christian University band room. Despite the acoustics, the floor, chairs and scattered percussion instruments shake as the band rehearses “Crash Landing.” It’s the title track of the band’s upcoming album, which will be released Thursday.
Eleven musicians fill the room, including a four-piece horn section with a trumpet, trombone and two saxophones. There’s a keyboard player, drummer, bassist, two background singers, Matt Stansberry and his brother Joe Stansberry on guitar.
Matt Stansberry marks time with both feet until the group makes a mistake and the music stops.
They start back at the beginning.
Matt Stansberry grew up in Edmond, surrounded by music. His grandfather played bluegrass fiddle, and his dad is a singer-songwriter.
When Matt Stansberry was 13, his friend got a guitar as a birthday gift. No one could play the instrument except Stansberry, which made him feel like a rock star. Even if he started with “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
He toured internationally as a solo act for a while after graduating from Oklahoma Christian University in 2004. Yet something was missing. He entertained the idea of quitting music, but a compulsive need to create kept him in the industry.
“I thought I might as well search for an outlet that’s going to make me more fulfilled,” he says.
And so, Matt Stansberry & The Romance was born in 2012. As he wrote songs, he decided he needed a horn section. Then he needed background singers with a gospel sound — enter Myra Beasley and Chandra Graham. They released their first EP, “Brighten It Up,” later that year.
“I feel like they were sent ... well, I wouldn’t even say they were sent to me,” Stansberry says. “It’s more like we were all sent toward each other. That’s kind of a magical piece of it.”
A friend of a friend encouraged Stansberry to hire the pair, so he booked them without hearing them. It’s impossible to imagine the group’s music without their soulful background vocals.
Matt Stansberry & The Romance album Release Party
•Where: University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab, 100 E Fifth St., Edmond.
•When: 8 p.m. Thursday.
•Admission: $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
“It’s more like we were all sent toward each other. That’s kind of a magical piece of it.” — Matt Stansberry