If you want to know the answer to the question, Who is Jill Scott?, you have only to listen to her lyric poetry and experience the wistful, but fierce vocals that wing from her rich, church-infused contralto to a soaring soprano. Jill Scott was the first artist signed to the Hidden Beach record label. She has collaborated with Will Smith and Common, and worked on soundtracks for Down to Earth (2001), Wild Wild West (1999) and In Too Deep (1999). Scott's multi-platinum selling breakout album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds Vol. I, was released in July 2000. Follow-ups, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 and the The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3, both achieved gold status. Jill Scott made her acting debut on the big screen in several films, Hounddog and Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married. She also played the lead role in the BBC/HBO series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.
Blue-eyed soul singer Michael McDonald has always loved music. His blend of R&B and smooth soft rock has made him a music idol, earning five Grammy's over the years. His signature style first emerged during his era with the Doobie Brothers, ushering in the group's most popular period with hits like "What a Fool Believes" and "Taking It to the Streets." McDonald left the group in 1982 to pursue a solo career and released his debut album, If That's What It Takes. The record climbed to number six on the strength of the single "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," which also crossed over into the 'R&B Top Ten'. In 1983, McDonald produced another crossover hit with his duet with James Ingram, "Yah Mo B There." His duet, "On My Own," with Patti LaBelle reached #1 on the U.S. charts.
The iconic Wailers were formed in 1969 when Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh recruited the Barrett brothers' bassist Aston "Family Man" and drummer Carly from Lee Perry's Upsetters, to play on hits such as "Lively Up Yourself," "Trenchtown Rock," "Duppy Conqueror," and many more. This line-up, inspired by Rastafari, pioneered and powered-up roots rock reggae, making it a worldwide phenomenon. The band members today are comprised of: Aston "Family Man" Barrett on bass; Dwayne Anglin on lead vocals; Cegee Victory on backing vocals; Keith Sterling on keyboard; Drummy Zeb on drums; and Audley Chisholm on rhythm guitar/backing vocals.
Chick Corea's career started with apprenticeships with luminaries Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, and the Miles Davis' Band. Corea, a magnificent composer and keyboard virtuoso, has experimented with a number of musical genres, including avant-garde, bebop, fusion, children's songs, and chamber music, all while maintaining a standard of excellence. A National Endowment for the Arts honoree – the highest honor the United States bestows on jazz artists – Chick Corea is also a twenty-time Grammy Award winner. After five decades of unmatched talent and musical creativity, Chick Corea is a living legend and a national treasure.
Dr. John's career began in the 1950s when he wrote and played guitar for recordings by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex, and Frankie Ford. Aside from recording with Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, and Exile on Main Street, his career highlights include, Sun, Moon, and Herbs and In the Right Place. Around 1968, Dr. John developed the persona of Dr. John the Nite Tripper and his solo career and album Gris-Gris was released. Dr. John won Grammy's in 1989, 1992, 1996, and 2000, and received six additional nominations throughout the years. In 2007, he was nominated for a Grammy for Sippiana Hurricane from his Hurricane Katrina benefit disk. In 2008, he released City that Care Forgot, winning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
Blanchard is a revered bandleader, composer, and arranger with several award-winning albums to his credit, but he is best known as a prolific film score composer. He emerged on the jazz scene in the 1980s with Lionel Hampton and Art Blakey and since then, he has firmly established himself as one of the world's top jazz elite. In 2011, he was named the artistic director of the Henri Mancini Institute at the University Of Miami Frost School Of Music, the graduate training institute for aspiring professional musicians.
Grammy Award-winning guitarist, composer and singer, Norman Brown first picked up a guitar at the age of eight and has yet to put it down. He delivered his 1992 debut, Just Between Us, and followed with the gold-certified After The Storm and Better Days Ahead in 1996. The talented Brown then made the leap to Warner Bros. and released Celebration. The 2003 follow-up, Just Chillin' earned Brown much-deserved recognition and a Grammy Award in the Best Pop Instrumental category. During the summer of 2007, Brown's smooth jazz radio hit, "Let's Take A Ride," from the album Stay With Me, hit #1. Brown has collaborated with several noted musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Boyz II Men, Rick Braun, Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum.
Since his early days in Memphis, Tennessee, Kirk Whalum has drawn inspiration from the rich musical traditions of the city, including gospel, blues, R&B and eventually, jazz. Over the years, Whalum has worked with a number of talented artists, including Whitney Houston, Babyface, Yolanda Adams, Take 6, Bebe & Cece Winans, Barbra Streisand, Edwin Hawkins, Quincy Jones, Kevin Mahogany, Al Green and Luther Vandross. Whalum is also an ordained minister, having earned his Master of Arts in Religion and he broadcasts a daily fifteen-minute podcast, "Bible In Your Ear (BIYE)," in which he reads through the Bible in a year. In addition to music and ministry, Whalum serves as Chief Creative Officer of the STAX Music Academy and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music in his hometown of Memphis.
Rick Braun grew up hearing music all around the house. His mother, a singer and piano player, made sure the music never stopped. While attending the Eastman School of Music, Braun became a member of a jazz fusion band, Auracle. In 2005, Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot co-founded a new label, ARTizen Music Group. Braun says his biggest influence to date continues to be Freddie Hubbard. According to Braun, "There was no player who was ever as confident, creative or innovative. He took improvisation to a whole new level and I have always considered his album First Light with George Benson and Hubert Laws to be the original urban jazz album."
Born in Cape Town, Butler discovered a gift for music early in life and began singing and playing the guitar at seven. Butler signed his first record deal as a teenager and in 1974, became the first black artist to be played on white South African stations with his tune, "Please Stay." The historic song earned him a Sarie Award, the South African equivalent of a Grammy. Butler has since toured the world with such acclaimed artists as Kirk Whalum, Dave Koz, and Ruby Turner. He has garnered several Grammy nominations and countless rave reviews in both the jazz and rhythm and blues fields, but it is his gospel recordings that hold a special place in his heart.
Sheila Escovedo is proof that you can't run from the rhythm, not that she ever tried. Since seventeen, Sheila has recorded and toured extensively with renowned artists such as Babyface, Billy Cobham, Natalie Cole, George Duke, Pete Escovedo, Gloria Estefan, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Nicks, Patti LaBelle, Cyndi Lauper, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Ringo Starr, Tito Puente, Don Was, Stevie Wonder, and countless others. In 1983, Sheila caught the attention of Prince and changed her name to "Sheila E." Prince would later help her record her first solo album, The Glamorous Life. Currently, Sheila, a philanthropist, continues to devote her talents and time to the Elevate Hope Foundation (EHF), a charitable organization (which she is co-founder and co-chair) that assists the needs of abused and abandoned children through music therapy.
Born and raised in Barbados, Elan Trotman has quickly become one of contemporary jazz' most thrilling and emotive performers. Throughout the years, he continues to stand out and push the boundaries as a composer, performer, and recording artist. He is becoming the go-to sax-man for smooth jazz artists like Peter White, Paul Brown, Keiko Matsui, Brian Simpson, Rick Braun, and earned a guest spot on the Dave Koz 2012 Cruise to Europe. Trotman recorded and performed with a host of smooth jazz and R&B musicians and singers, including Roberta Flack, Patti Austin, Will Downing, Phil Perry, Jamie Foxx, and Kirk Whalum, among many others.
For more than four decades, pianist and composer, Joe Sample, has been an integral, innovative, and best-selling force in jazz. A founding member of the influential jazz funk combo, The Crusaders, and a pioneer of contemporary jazz piano, Sample creates his own personal interpretations of classics by such esteemed composers as Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, the Gershwins, Al Jolson, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and many others. In addition to his own recordings, Sample has toured and performed with numerous musical greats in all genres.
Randy Crawford's breakout performance was her soul- rending performance on the Crusaders' 1979 album, Street Life. The song remained #1 on the American jazz charts for twenty weeks. Crawford was also named Most Outstanding Performer at the 1980 Tokyo Music Festival. She's been quite successful overseas, where such singles as "Knocking on Heaven's Door," "Rainy Night in Georgia," and "Last Night at Danceland" have earned her universal acclaim. As a solo artist, Randy Crawford had her commercial breakthrough in the UK with her fourth album, Now We May Begin. Released in the summer of 1980, it reached #4 and the ballad, "One Day I'll Fly Away," hit #1. In 1986, Randy Crawford was deemed the "Ballad Queen of Soul" by the New Musical Express.
Peter White had already decided that music was his calling upon securing his first professional gig at nineteen years old. In addition to opening for artists like Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel and Queen, White has also worked with Al Stewart on the groundbreaking Year of the Cat. He later launched his solo recording career with the 1990 release of Reveillez-Vous. To date, he has recorded and released thirteen albums and has maintained a reputation as one of the most versatile and prolific acoustic guitarists on the contemporary jazz landscape. Armed with an unparalleled combination of lyricism and energy, he combines elements of jazz, pop, and classical guitar to create a sound that is singular, yet also accessible to a broad audience.
Best known as a smooth jazz powerhouse, David Benoit's ever-expanding slate of orchestral music endeavors includes his ongoing role as conductor of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and leading such eminent orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphonies of London, Nuremberg, San Francisco, Atlanta, San Antonio, and San Jose. Benoit has also been a longtime guest educator with the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, winning the organization's award for "Excellence in Music Education" in 2001. On October 29, 2010, the pianist/composer was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Smooth Jazz Awards in Michigan City, Indiana.
Along with being an original member of the legendary rock group Ambrosia, guitarist David Pack is a respected solo artist, a Grammy Award-winning producer, and music director of special events, including both of President Bill Clinton's inaugurations. He has also produced singles and albums for a number of notable artists. In 1997, the White House asked Pack to direct the music and produce the Presidents' Volunteer Summit in Philadelphia for Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford. Pack remains committed to using music to make a palpable difference in the world.
Preeminent Latin jazz master Arturo Sandoval was born in Artemisa and began studying classical trumpet at the age of twelve. Once the protégé of Dizzy Gillespie, he has since evolved into one of the world's most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn, as well as a renowned classical pianist, and composer. He was commissioned by the Kennedy Center to compose music for the ballets Pepito's Story, Soul Possessed, Oman O Men, and The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, choreographed by Debbie Allen. Sandoval has performed with a host of luminaries – from Dizzy Gillespie Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and Alicia Keys to John Williams. Nominated for 17 Grammy's, Sandoval has been awarded nine…so far. In addition, he has earned an Emmy for his composition of the underscore of For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, the HBO movie based on his life.
Robert Glasper has long kept one foot planted firmly in jazz and the other in hip-hop and R&B, but he was nurtured and nourished on blues and gospel. Glasper says that he first developed his musical sound in church, where he was inspired to mix church and gospel harmonies with jazz harmonies. He extended those influences to include hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and rock, but he refuses to be restrained by any one tag. Glasper's latest album, Black Radio, features many of his friends from across the spectrum of urban music, including: Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele and Musiq Soulchild.
Dee Dee Bridgewater has won a coveted Tony Award for her Broadway performance in The Wiz and is a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, as well as the host of National Public Radio's syndicated radio show, JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater. Bridgewater is the first American to be inducted to the Haut Conseil de la Francophonie and has received the Award of Arts and Letters in France. She was later nominated for the "Laurence Olivier" Award for her amazing portrayal of Billie Holiday in Stephen Stahl's "Lady Day." In October of 1999, Dee Dee Bridgewater joined the battle against world hunger and was named Ambassador to the United Nations by the Food and Agricultural Organization.
The three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group, Tiempo Libre, is one of the hottest bands on the tour circuit. The group's Miami-based members were classically trained at some of Cuba's premier conservatories. Since their formation in 2001, they have been on a mission: to share their musical heritage with as wide of an audience as possible. Tiempo Libre engages audiences by reinterpreting and reinvigorating traditional Cuban music with a youthful, modern sound and forging a new style born from the merging of their Cuban roots and their American influences.
Bowie, Maryland's Gregg Karukas developed a passion for music at a very young age. Although he played the organ and piano in several rock and soul bands as a teenager, after hearing Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," and Stan Getz' "Jazz Samba," Karukas was hopelessly hooked on jazz. "What really got me into music as a passion and a lifestyle was first seeing The Beatles, then hearing Stevie Wonder and songwriters/singers like Carole King, James Taylor, Leon Russell, Laura Nyro, and Joni Mitchell," Karukas says. He says he's utterly inspired by the way music touches people's emotions with melody and meaningful lyrics.
In Frédéric Yonnet's hands, the harmonica becomes something altogether amazing. Born in Normandy, France, Yonnet played the drums before picking up an old harmonica he received as a child. His mastery led to gigs with Prince, Kenny G, Erykah Badu, Wyclef, India.Arie, Anthony Hamilton and John Legend, among many others. In a widely lauded harmonica duel/duet performance with Stevie Wonder, Yonnet pushed the limits, leaving his mentor panting and proud. "I got kicked out of bands because I kept trying to play the melody on the drums," Yonnet says. "On the harmonica, I can play both the melody and the rhythm. Plus they're lighter to carry," he also stated. This is a good thing, because he tours with more than fifty of them for each show
Trombonist Sam Williams started playing with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at age nineteen before later venturing out on his own and creating the Funky Nation. Big Sam powered up the horn section on the Grammy-nominated The River in Reverse and was also featured in Hot as a Pistol, Keen as a Blade, the concert tour DVD. Big Sam has since played with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Dave Matthews, Ozomatli, and Widespread Panic. In 2006 and 2007, while touring with Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, he earned glowing reviews as a dynamic musical force and star soloist. The San Francisco Chronicle calls Big Sam "the top man on the slide trombone in the birthplace of jazz" whose signature horn riffs and dance moves create a high velocity surge of urban funk that refuses to let audiences sit still.
Like many six year olds whose parents make them practice for long hours, by age fourteen, Jason Moran longed to quit playing the piano…until he heard the music of Thelonious Monk. While still in school in New York, jazz and funk saxophonist Greg Osby hired Moran without even hearing him audition. Over the next few years, their relationship would lead to Moran's recording debut on Osby's Further Ado, which earned his spot on the Blue Note label. In 2000, the recording "Facing Left," dubbed by Jazz Times as "an instant classic," was the beginning of what would become the trio, The Bandwagon, which included Moran, bassist Taurus Mateen, and drummer Nasheet Waits. Moran is now considered a prodigious talent, highly respected for his funky blend of classical, blues, and jazz techniques, sauced with hip hop, rock and R&B.
Susan Greenbaum committed the first sin of musicians by quitting her day job. After working as a corporate executive in Fortune 500 companies, Susan traded her power suits for performing. Now, she is a highly-favored, award-winning singer-songwriter. While having grown up in Kansas City, Susan has been singing as long as she's been speaking. She has since won several notable awards for her musical talents. These accolades include winning a national competition to be the opening act for Jewel, chosen by industry professionals and over 100,000 online voters, and being awarded the Smithsonian Songwriters Award. Susan has also enjoyed overwhelming success on a tour across the Northeast, welcoming thousands of new fans. In addition, Susan and her band were among the select acts chosen to perform at a recent Virginia Governor's Inaugural Concert.
This is not your grandfather's big band! The Central Virginia Jazz Orchestra (CVJO) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a charter for education. Directed by Dan Borlawsky, this dynamic 19-piece big band group performs some old favorites in contemporary arrangements. The CVJO just completed the production of their third CD, James River Jazz!, which features not only the entire band and their great instrumental soloists, but vocalists Lawrence Olds, Sharon Rae North, and Susan Greenbaum as well.