Sean Garrett – biography

sean garrett

Sean Garrett wants more! Your favorite artist’s favorite songwriter-producer–behind #1 hits such as Beyoncé’s “Check On It,” Fergie’s “London Bridge,” Nelly’s “Grillz,” Chris Brown’s “Run It!,” Ciara’s “Goodies,” and Usher’s “Yeah!”–takes center stage with his debut album, Turbo 919 (Bet I Penned It/Interscope Records).

“I love when people hear a hit and know I wrote and produced it but I love being on stage too,” says Garrett. “Performing my songs, what’s in my heart, that’s been my dream since I was a kid. Creating that excitement in people with music is a remarkable high, and nothing replaces it, not drugs or sex. I’ve been planning for this my entire life.”

Led by the first single, the sexy, hook-filled “Grippin’” featuring Ludacris, the electrifying and groundbreaking Turbo 919 also boasts contributions from Pharrell, Akon, Lil Wayne, Stargate, Rodney Jerkins, Bloodshy, and others. But it is the four-time Grammy Award nominated Garrett, nicknamed “The Pen” by Jay-Z, who is the star.

From the ‘laid-back-summer-vibe of “Girlfriend Ringtone,” to the romantically-inspired “Lay Up Under Me,” Garrett manages to capture a wide range of emotions and eclectic pop and R&B sounds from track to track. Whether it’s the electronic fuzz of “What You Doin’” or the dance-driven “Pretty Girls,” Garrett’s Turbo 919 is a fast and smooth, old school, yet cool ride that crosses musical genres that many artists dare to intertwine.

The can’t-get-the-chorus-out-of-my-head “Why Am I In Love With You,” and the techno-influenced title track, “Turbo 919” are both supercharged with heart-thumping baselines and synthesized harmonies that listeners across the globe can jam to. Turbo 919 is definitely an album for the world; with songs like the heart-felt ballad “People,” a modern-day “We Are The World,” the message captured is one that the all walks of life can relate to. Throughout Turbo 919, Garrett consistently delivers music that resonates the soul while shaking up the dance floor.

“I don’t sound like anyone else,” says the soulful, velvet-voiced artist. “These songs feel and sound like me. I don’t hold onto the past; keeping songs meant for other artists. I don’t fit their molds, and I don’t want to redo what’s already been done. I love what’s new and fresh and exciting. I’m a trendsetter, not a follower. I want people to say, ‘That shit is crazy!’ I like to lead and I lead by being me.”

Who Garrett is explains why he has become that rare songwriter who has changed the music scene, garnered both commercial and critical acclaim, and earned the respect of a Who’s Who list of music artists. He epitomizes bringing together the urban and pop worlds, the edgy and the smooth.

Born in Atlanta, South Side, Garrett moved with his family to Europe when he was four years old. His father was in the U.S. military and they never stayed long in one place, transferring between Army bases across Germany and England. “American urban life flows in my veins,” he says, “but living in Europe gave me an opportunity to see things from a different point of view, including when it comes to pop and dance music.”

Performing in talent shows (“I thought I was Michael Jackson,” he says with a smile) led to a recording contract with Ariola/BMG at age 17. A few years later, having returned to the States, he was about to sign with Warner Bros. but its black music department was axed, killing the deal. Frustrated, Garrett stepped off the roller coaster, graduated from college (an A.A. degree in business from the University of Maryland’s program in Germany), and took a lucrative job as a mortgage broker in South Carolina.

He soon realized, however, that the uncreative environment wasn’t for him. He began writing songs again, recorded a few, and friendly radio program directors played them. Impressed, music industry folks said he should write for other performers. But Garrett insisted he was an artist, not a songwriter.

After moving back to Atlanta, his mother Rita, who had encouraged his music career, passed away. “Deep inside, I found the strength that I always knew I had but never used. I had a choice: I could give up, or keep moving and make something of myself.” He started shopping for a publishing deal.

In 2003, L.A. Reid signed him as a songwriter and Garrett’s ballad “I Don’t Want To Hurt You” was placed with Motown crooner Latif. Then came “Yeah!” from Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris. “Yeah!” hit #1 R&B/Hip-Hop, remained at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 consecutive weeks, and was named BMI’s 2005 Urban Song Of The Year.
An avalanche of other #1s has followed, among them “Goodies” from Ciara featuring Petey Pablo (#1 Pop and R&B/Hip-Hop), “Ring The Alarm” from Beyoncé (#1 Dance), “Like This” from Kelly Rowland featuring Eve (#1 Dance), “Buttons” from The Pussycat Dolls featuring Snoop Dogg (#1 Dance), “Dimelo” from Enrique Iglesias (#1 Latin), “London Bridge” from Fergie (#1 Pop), and the Dance #1s “Lose My Breath” and “Soldier” from Destiny’s Child.

In early 2006, Garrett notched a phenomenal feat when for two straight weeks his name was on each of the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100: “Grillz” by Nelly featuring Paul Wall, Ali and Gipp (also #1 Rap); “Check On It” by Beyoncé featuring Slim Thug (also #1 Dance), and “Run It!” by Chris Brown featuring Juelz Santana (also #1 R&B/Hip-Hop), respectively. Not surprisingly, Garrett was ranked the #1 Pop and #2 R&B Songwriter Of The Year by Billboard, and honored as co-Songwriter Of The Year by BMI.

“I’m so fortunate and blessed, and I appreciate my success,” he says. “I had to earn my stripes. If you’re not legit, you don’t stay around for long. I still learn from people who were in this business before me, people like Lionel Richie. I don’t negate them because they’re Old School. I take notes, put them in my back pocket, and use them to understand what’s going on. The bottom line is that you can have the finest chicks and a billion dollars but what matters most is what’s in your heart.”

Garrett has had tracks recorded by artists as varied as Richie and Gwen Stefani, Janet Jackson and Santana, DMX and Jennifer Holliday, Britney Spears and Jay–Z, Puffy and The Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger, plus LL Cool J, Keyshia Cole, Joe, Monica, Fantasia, and many others. He has also collaborated on Top 10s for Mary J. Blige, Ricky Martin, Jamie Foxx, and 112. In 2008 alone, he has been linked to current or forthcoming projects from Whitney Houston, Raven-Symoné, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Ashlee Simpson, Michelle Williams, and Vanessa Hudgens.

Musically innovative and unpredictable, Garrett often is asked about any new record that hits, “Did you do that?” “That’s great even if I didn’t,” he says. “It means they know I’m liable to do anything. ‘Yeah!’ was out of the box for Usher, ‘Ring The Alarm’ was very risky for Beyoncé, and at the same time I did Nelly’s ‘Grillz.’ Now I’m doing for myself what I do for other artists. Turbo 919 is just as diverse: ‘Grippin’’ is street Atlanta but the title track is mainstream American pop. I want people to say, ‘I don’t know where he’s taking me but I want to get in that car.’”

Garrett is firmly at the wheel. Like any artist worth listening to, he has a definite point of view. “I love life and I love people; I don’t like dark spirits or negative vibes. I’m all positive, all love, all happiness, because that’s what is in my heart. When someone hears my songs, whether they’re in a club or getting up in the morning to go to work, I want them to feel good about life. To me, songs are messages; they are energy, feelings, and emotions.”
Unafraid of stretching the musical boundaries of pop and urban, Garrett is equally fearless of lyrical limits, as he proves on the album’s “Come On In.” “I can get away with saying almost anything because with my voice it still comes off sweet. The point is that you can be a real man and still be passionate and sensitive. You may look like an action figure but sometimes you should talk to a woman like she wants. My point is that a man can be romantic and emotional and still be tough as nails.”

With Turbo 919 as his vehicle, the famously prolific and hard-working Garrett is a man on the go.

“I have this saying: ‘While your guns are raising, my guns are blazing.’ Some people think I’m too focused, too serious. But I know that in the blink of an eye it can all be taken away. I don’t want to be 10 years down the road saying, ‘Damn, I should have done an album.’ You only go through life once; you might as well do it the best you can.”

Lady GaGa – biography

Lady Gaga

It’s no wonder that little girl from a good Italian New York family, turned into the exhibitionist, multi-talented singer-songwriter with a flair for theatrics that she is today: Lady GaGa.

“I was always an entertainer. I was a ham as a little girl and I’m a ham today,” says Lady GaGa, 22, who made a name for herself on the Lower East Side club scene with the infectious dance-pop party song “Beautiful Dirty Rich,” and wild, theatrical, and often tongue-in-cheek “shock art” performances where GaGa – who designs and makes many of her stage outfits — would strip down to her hand-crafted hot pants and bikini top, light cans of hairspray on fire, and strike a pose as a disco ball lowered from the ceiling to the orchestral sounds of A Clockwork Orange.

“I always loved rock and pop and theater. When I discovered Queen and David Bowie is when it really came together for me and I realized I could do all three,” says GaGa, who nicked her name from Queen’s song “Radio Gaga” and who cites rock star girlfriends, Peggy Bundy, and Donatella Versace as her fashion icons. “I look at those artists as icons in art. It’s not just about the music. It’s about the performance, the attitude, the look; it’s everything. And, that is where I live as an artist and that is what I want to accomplish.”

That goal might seem lofty, but consider the artist: GaGa is the girl who at age 4 learned piano by ear. By age 13, she had written her first piano ballad. At 14, she played open mike nights at clubs such as New York’s the Bitter End by night and was teased for her quirky, eccentric style by her Convent of the Sacred Heart School (the Manhattan private school Nicky and Paris Hilton attended) classmates by day. At age 17, she became was one of 20 kids in the world to get early admission to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Signed by her 20th birthday and writing songs for other artists (such as the Pussycat Dolls, and has been asked to write for a series of Interscope artists) before her debut album was even released, Lady GaGa has earned the right to reach for the sky.

“My goal as an artist is to funnel a pop record to a world in a very interesting way,” says GaGa, who wrote all of her lyrics, all of her melodies, and played most of the synth work on her album, The Fame (Streamline/Interscope/KonLive). “I almost want to trick people into hanging with something that is really cool with a pop song. It’s almost like the spoonful of sugar and I’m the medicine.”

On The Fame, it’s as if GaGa took two parts dance-pop, one part electro-pop, and one part rock with a splash of disco and burlesque and generously poured it into the figurative martini glasses of the world in an effort to get everyone drunk with her Fame. “The Fame is about how anyone can feel famous,” she explains. “Pop culture is art. It doesn’t make you cool to hate pop culture, so I embraced it and you hear it all over The Fame. But, it’s a sharable fame. I want to invite you all to the party. I want people to feel a part of this lifestyle.”

The CD’s opener and first single, “Just Dance,” gets the dance floor rocking with it’s “fun, L.A., celebratory vibe.” As for the equally catchy, “Boys Boys Boys,” Gaga doesn’t mind wearing her influences on her sleeve. “I wanted to write the female version of Motley Crue’s ‘Girls Girls Girls,’ but with my own twist. I wanted to write a pop song that rockers would like.”

“Beautiful Dirty Rich” sums up her time of self-discovery, living in the Lower East Side and dabbling in drugs and the party scene. “That time, and that song, was just me trying to figure things out,” says GaGa. “Once I grabbed the reigns of my artistry, I fell in love with that more than I did with the party life.” On first listen, “Paparazzi” might come off as a love song to cameras, and in all honestly, GaGa jokes “on one level it IS about wooing the paparazzi and wanting fame. But, it’s not to be taken completely seriously. It’s about everyone’s obsession with that idea. But, it’s also about wanting a guy to love you and the struggle of whether you can have success or love or both.”

GaGa shows her passion for love songs on such softer tracks as the Queen-influenced “Brown Eyes” and the sweet kiss-off break-up song “Nothing I can Say (eh eh).” “‘Brown Eyes’ is the most vulnerable song on the album,” she explains. “‘Eh Eh’ is my simple pop song about finding someone new and breaking up with the old boyfriend.”

For the new tour for this album, fans will be treated to a more polished version of what they saw (and loved) at her critically acclaimed Lollapalooza show in August 2007 and Winter Music Conference performance in March 2008. “This new show is the couture version of my handmade downtown performance of the past few years. It’s more fine-tuned, but some of my favorite elements to my past shows – the disco balls, hot pants, sequin, and stilettos – will still be there. Just more fierce and more of a conceptual show with a vision for pop performance art.”

It’s been a while since a new pop artist has made her way in the music industry the old-fashioned/grass roots way by paying her dues with seedy club gigs and self-promotion. This is one rising pop star who hasn’t been plucked from a model casting call, born into a famous family, won a reality TV singing contest, or emerged from a teen cable TV sitcom. “I did this the way you are supposed to. I played every club in New York City and I bombed in every club and then killed it in every club and I found myself as an artist. I learned how to survive as an artist, get real, and how to fail and then figure out who I was as singer and performer. And, I worked hard.”

GaGa adds with a wink in her eye, “And, now, I’m just trying to change the world one sequin at a time.”

Mishon – biography

Mishon

When a young star breaks onto the scene, demonstrating serious talent on multiple
levels, all we can do is stand back in awe. Get ready for Mishon (MY-shawn), a young
singer and fledgling songwriter who represents the next wave of pop R&B edged with
hip-hop fire.

The 15-year-old vocalist has already stirred up noise with his debut single
“Excuse Me Mama,” which shows off the Los Angeles native’s soaring vocal dexterity
and considerable teen charm. The track is just the tip of the iceberg, as Mishon is poised
to capture even more fans with his exciting debut CD, due this summer on
producer/songwriter Vincent Herbert’s new Streamline Records, a joint venture with
Interscope Records.

The multi-talented teen is already a TV star thanks to his role as spunky kid
brother Tay on the ABC Family Channel drama “Lincoln Heights,” which began shooting
its third season this spring. Though Mishon has developed his own fan base thanks to his
acting chops, he says that singing has always been his first love.
Singing since he was a small child, his interest in music impressed his parents
enough to enroll him in a local performing group of talented children that performed gigs
throughout Southern California.

But it wasn’t until he handpicked the song, “Lean On Me” to perform unexpectedly at the
funeral of his great grandfather. At age 9 that folks around him really took notice of the emotion
he was able to wring from the song.“They asked if anybody had anything to say, and I stepped up
to the microphone and started singing,” Mishon explains. “And that’s really what broke me out of my
shell because I used to be a very shy child.”

One person who took notice was his cousin, Demetreus “Doe Mac” Henderson,
who had started Dynasty Records and wanted to help his young relative polish his talent.
Mishon began working on tracks with his cousin at age ten, even completing a couple of
independent CD releases. In the meantime, Mishon got interested in acting. After rounds
of auditions at age 12, the preteen took some time off but went back to it at age 14. One
of his first auditions was for the “Lincoln Heights” pilot, which was later picked up.
But music never stopped for Mishon, who continued to hone his performing craft
and record more songs for his eventual solo album.

When Dynasty got a distribution deal with Streamline, Mishon went to the label’s Santa Monica
offices to sing live for all the executives. Vincent Herbert, the mastermind who’s created hits for
the like’sof Destiny’s Child, Jo Jo, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and many more,
was so blown away by the young star that he introduced him to Jimmy Iovine, president and
CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M Records. Plans for his major label debut went underway
immediately.

Inspired by Michael Jackson, Usher, Jodeci, and Boyz II Men, Mishon is rapidly
developing a style all his own. He runs through the yearning lyrics of the dance floor
single “Excuse Me Mama” with smooth assurance, sharing a tale of a guy trying to meet
that special someone while hanging at the mall. “It’s a refreshing song, like something
young and new,” enthuses the singer. “It’s about seeing a girl but you don’t know what to
say to her, so I gotta step up to her and express how I feel. I could definitely relate to the
song.” Though the song has earned him comparisons to Chris Brown, Mishon says he’s
flattered but he’s got his own style. “I really wasn’t too devastated by it,” he laughs about
the comments.

The young singer has teamed with uber-songwriters and producers including Sean
“The Pen” Garrett (Usher, Pussycat Dolls, Ciara), The Underdogs (Chris Brown, Jordin
Sparks), Dre and Vidal (Ciara, Usher, Mary J. Blige), Carlos “L.O.S” McKinney (J.
Holiday, The Dream), Herbert and others on his debut album. Among the other tunes on
Mishon’s debut are the sweet groove “Thinking Bout Ya” and the spare electronic
bombast of “Lifeguard,” both of which will have the dance floor pumping. And Mishon
promises that like his performing idols, he’s got a few fly dance moves of his own saved
for the stage.

While Mishon is ready to kick-start his run at the charts and already shines on the
small screen, he remains humble and reminds other teens to keep their priorities straight.
“Something I would like to tell teens is that if they’re a musician–or whatever they may
do– they should remember that their parents always support them, so they shouldn’t be
afraid to talk to their parents,” says Mishon, whose name is a mashup of the first names
of parents Michael and Shontay. “I know that a lot of teens are kind of rebellious
sometimes, but just keep your support behind you and keep God number one and follow
your dreams, don’t ever give up. That’s been my stronghold for the last five years.”

Karina Pasian – biography

karnia pasian

Even before 16-year-old Karina Pasian signed to Def Jam records, the stellar singer was already making a name for herself. From her winning performance on Star Search in 2003 to singing at the White House last June during Black Music Month, this New York City chanteuse has been paying her professional dues since she was a toddler.

“I’ve been singing and playing piano since I was three,” says Karina. “My babysitter had a piano, and she started teaching me how to play. It wasn’t until a year later that I began getting professional lessons.” While some have been quick to compare Karina Pasian to other performers including Aaliyah, Alicia Keys and Mariah Carey, one listen to her self-assured debut disc is evidence enough that she is destined for success.

Karina remembers the first time she sang in front of an audience. “I sang Céline Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ at a talent show. I was kind of nervous, but the audience loved it.”

From that point, there was no denying that music would be her life. A few years later, after using the Prince-penned ballad “How Come U Don’t Call” for an audition, Karina Pasian was cast on a revamped version of Star Search. “That was such a wonderful experience,” says Karina, who won the first round of the competition with a rousing version of the Jackson Five classic “I’ll Be There.”

Working with an array of songwriters, producers and artists that include The Dream, Tricky Stewart, Gordon Chambers, Chris Brown, Carlos McKinnney, Lil Mama and others, Karina proves to be a breath of fresh soul. “I’ve recorded over 70 songs in the last two years,” Karina says. “It was a period of real growth for me as I learned to focus and stay consistent.”

Karina Pasian’s godfather, famed producer and businessman Quincy Jones, has also been a guardian angel for the young singer. In addition to giving her advice, the maestro included her in the “We Are the Future” charity concert in 2006. Considering the talents Jones has worked with, from Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan to Michael Jackson and Tamia, she is in good company. “I know I’m blessed to have someone like Quincy in my corner,” she says.

A fan who embraces all forms of music, from the stylish Black pop of Brandy to old school jazz greats, Karina performed the standard “Misty” when she was at the White House last year. “Emilio Estefan, who has been a friend of my family for years, helped to put the show together, and invited me to be a part of it,” says Karina. “Later, my brother told me that I was the first Dominican to play at the White House, and that made me very proud.”

Studying music and voice at High School for the Professional Performing Arts, the Washington Heights native was more than prepared for any challenges that arose in the studio. “I was blessed to have some pretty amazing teachers who prepared me well,” she says sweetly. Refusing to fall into any cliché, Karina Pasian has recorded an album that is a reflection of her age and independent point of view.

Karina Pasian’s song “Sixteen” is a song of independence and admiration. “Ain’t no daddy’s where I’m from, its just mad mothers…why am I disrespected by someone I should call brother,” she sings in a pristine voice. “I wanted to do a song about what teenager girls go through in urban areas. It’s not cool that boys think they’re being cute when they say nasty stuff to us on the street.” Written and produced by The Dream and Tricky Stewart, best known for their work with Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Madonna’s “Me Against the Music,” the song “Sixteen” reminds one of vintage Brill Building girls like the Crystals or Little Eva with an electro-groove.

Another The Dream and Tricky Stewart track that will leave fans breathless is “Baby Baby,” an uptempo song that is destined to be a dancefloor scorcher. “Though this is a fun song, it’s not just a party song,” says Karina “It’s about guys who simply see young women as sex objects, but I refuse to be that girl.” Indeed, like Aretha Franklin, she simply wants some respect. Sharing the mic with rapper Lil Mama (“Lip Gloss” & “Shawty Get Loose”), the two young stars connected in the studio. “Lil Mama was so cool, but it was her confidence in the booth that was really exciting.”

Produced and written by Carlos McKinney, the sing-songy “Can’t Find the Words” embraces elements of jazz and pop while simultaneously creating a whimsical track that sounds like nothing else of the radio. Additionally, Karina’s favorite song “Winner,” which highlights her elegant piano (her light touch on the keyboard reminds one of Erroll Garner) playing, is laidback and uplifting.

A beautiful young woman with more musical moxy than most sixteen year olds, Karina Pasian has constructed one of the finest debut discs in years. Melancholic and truthful, funky and real, blissful and bold, Karina’s album is the sound of a better tomorrow.

Testament – biography

Prophecy is a territory explored only by brave men and warriors. The two are not necessarily mutual but the differences between them are certainly marginal. And truly, the best prophecies come from those who aren’t necessarily seeking to be prophetic, but who simply step forward into those dark, uncomfortable places because their need for honest expression is total, no pre-determination, no intent, just pure, raw gut delivery of truths as seen.

testament

Testament is
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitars
Alex Skolnick – guitars
Greg Christian – bass
Paul Bostaph – drums
Prophecy is a territory explored only by brave men and warriors. The two are not necessarily mutual but the differences between them are certainly marginal. And truly, the best prophecies come from those who aren’t necessarily seeking to be prophetic, but who simply step forward into those dark, uncomfortable places because their need for honest expression is total, no pre-determination, no intent, just pure, raw gut delivery of truths as seen.
Testament have found themselves in the prophecy business before during their 25 year career, and with “The Formation Of Damnation” they have delivered their sharpest, leanest, heaviest and most prophetic set of songs for two decades. The quintessential modern heavy metal band, the undisputedly enormous influence over a whole nu generation of aural aggressors. With “The Formation Of Damnation” Testament have deliciously served up ‘old school’ without the old, a crushingly heavy album without the weight of oppression, all crisp and lively like a ball-pin hammer-wielding maniac intent on bashing your brains to a pulp. It crackles with the type of vibrant energy that comes from an umbilically connected creative core writing together for the first time in over ten years, their reserves of residual anger, aggro and raw visceral riffery greater than ever. Recorded at Driftwood Studios in Oakland, CA (except for the drums which were done at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley) and mixed at Backstage Studios in Derbyshire, UK, “The Formation Of Damnation” is a worthy sibling of previously lauded Test-efforts such as “The Gathering” whilst behaving very much like the older, wiser brother of 1988’s “The New Order.”
“We’re talking about things we’ve lived through,” says Eric Peterson, “we’re living through the politics, we’re living through the bullshit, we’ve lived through bad relationships and we’ve lived through tough times. It’s not even that we’re necessarily political, we’re just everyday people who have always been thinking about these things. Out of all our records “The Formation Of Damnation” could be “The New Order’s” big brother.”
“The New Order” had also been inspired by George Orwell’s ‘1984’,” continues Alex Skolnick, “that whole vision of complete government control and totalitarianism taking over the US, as well as disasters both man-made an natural. Here it is years later and we have the Patriot Act, Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. So when you compare the two albums, it’s kinda spooky. And this album is no going to get filed under ‘easy listening’, that’s for sure.”
“It’s also absolutely about being older and wiser,” confirms Chuck Billy, “And now we also have children, their world is being affected, and everyday life generally throws up some heavy stuff, both national and personal, so all these songs are very much of our time and experiences. For example, over the last couple of years Eric and I both lost our fathers, so “The After Life” is about when we might next see them. Then there’s “The Evil Has Landed” which is about the twin towers, and at first I didn’t know if I wanted to sing about that, but once I performed it became clear that deep down I had to, and ‘Killing Season’ is one for all the soldiers we get letters and e-mails from during this war, it’s for those troops who get fired up by heavy metal before they go into combat and it’s my little contribution to the cause. And with all the songs I wanted us to make the statement that we’re stronger, more powerful and more confident than ever before. We’ve got the game!” “I think it’s the best record I’ve ever had anything to do with,” chuckles Greg Christian, “and not to sound conceited but it’s also really the best heavy metal record I’ve heard in a long time.”
Reaching this lushest of creative fields has been quite a journey for Testament, the sort that tests, stretches and ultimately breaks most bands. Formed in the Bay Area of Northern California in 1983 under the moniker of Legacy (the change to Testament came when Billy arrived to take over from Steve Souza on vocals and Derrick Ramirez was replaced by Skolnick), they grew up at the same time as Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth, being one of the five bands forming the core of what would become the world famous thrash metal scene. But from the beginning Testament trod a unique path, making sure that their extraordinary musicianship, intuitive feel for harmonies amidst the savagery established itself as a stand alone sound.
“I was in the band Forbidden back then,” says Paul Bostaph, “and I remember that us and other bands at the time might stumble across a riff, think about it and scrap it simply because it was too close to the Testament sound. They really did have their own style and their own dimension, which gave them an edge from the very beginning and influenced so many bands on the scene.”
1987’s debut release “The Legacy” threw down a marker, and by the time Testament were about to release 1988’s “The New Order” their legend was already hitting enormous popularity. However, their extreme talent got muddied and compromised by the weight of expectation, and while albums like -1989’s “Practice What You Preach” and 1990’s “Souls Of Black” continued to open the same creative doors for a slew of bands which Testament have always done, their level of recognition was perhaps not commesurate with their influence over an entire genre. Talent+personalities can equal problems, and thus it was that after 1992’s “The Ritual”, Clemente left and Skolnick decided it was high-time to essentially find himself and reclaim a few of the teenage years he lost.
“I was in high school, 11th grade, when I joined this band,” laughs Skolnick, “so I really needed to go away and grow as a person, as a musician and get the necessary confidence to enjoy this and gather the strength to make things happen and fight for changes. When I left Testament I still felt like the shy, annoying brother in the room; when I came back, I felt like a respected, professional musician.”

And so it was that for many years, the core creators behind Testament’s music remained separate. Friendships were maintained and good times still had, but musically, matters remained separate as Skolnick explored jazzier rock climbs, Christian engaged in his own projects whilst Billy and Peterson kept Testament alive with a series of different musicians coming in and out. Bostaph had his first short stint with the band in 1992 (in the midst of joining Slayer), whilst White Zombie and Anthrax drummer John Tempesta came in with death metal guitarist James Murphy to play on 1994’s “Low” album, perhaps Testament’s most progressive in terms of material range.
Peterson and Billy continued to fly the Testament flag, releasing the decidedly deathier tones of “Demonic” in 1997, whilst 1999 saw Murphy again on guitar with Slayer’s Dave Lombardo on drums for “The Gathering.” Arguably the album which led Testament back onto their path after a little radical experimentation in the recent past, “The Gathering” became a meeting point for dozens of hungry young metal acts looking for a new metal God. But Murphy was diagnosed with a brain tumor from which he did eventually recover, and in 2001, Billy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It was to prove a life-affirming, as well as life-changing, event.
“I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason,” says Billy, “we never split on bad terms, we always kept in good contact, we saw them on the east coast, we always supported Alex when he came through town, and we never discussed getting back together, we’d just hang out. But when I got sick and there was Thrash Of The Titans concert, that was the first time a reunion of any sort happened. It broke the ice, Greg (Christian) put some stuff behind him with Eric and I to get up there, I performed a song with everyone and that was the start of it all coming together again.”
From that came the deeper realization that with a fair few years between them (not to mention oceans under bridges) it was time to jump to the next level and simply get creative with each other again.
No expectations.
No grandiose plans.
Just pure powerful playing, which is why 2005’s 10 date European reunion tour (featuring all the original members) ended up spurring studio work.
“We didn’t ever plan this,” affirms Skolnick, “the reunion show in 2002 at the Dynamo was the catalyst, we never made any plans, we just enjoyed that show and then ended up doing a few more, which proved to us that now we’re older and more mature we can all enjoy being in this band. And once we’d done some extra shows in 2005, once we’d seen the reactions, once we’d seen a new audience mixing with the old, we just took things to the next logical progression.”
It is the journey to “The Formation Of Damnation” and the affirmation of the quintet’s chemistry which is one of the album’s strongest elements.
“Sometimes you can have a lot of ideas but keep on clashing the people you work with,” says Peterson, “and that’s what’s happened to us in the past. But with this album, we really do just appreciate what we have.”
“There’s been such a growth in our maturity and comfort with each other,” furthers Billy. “Eric’s developed into such a great rhythm player and Alex really acknowledged that as well as his creativity. Those two really gelled, and Alex also had a lot of input with arrangements, he really did fine-tune a lot of the songs.
“In some sense I took a step back from the writing this time because through it all, whatever differences we may have had, Chuck and Eric have kept Testament going,” explains Skolnick, “I knew they had a way of working together, so a lot of my work was assisting with their writing process. In some ways it was like a production role, and I’d never say I was a producer here because the album was in it’s early stages, and for the most part I really enjoyed the role.”
“It felt quite natural, especially as I know Eric’s writing so well,” adds Christian. “I know he had this vision in is head for the songs so I just did my best to help pull them out, and because we understand what each other are saying we can work really quickly. The chemistry between Eric, Alex, Chuck and myself is amazing, and it’s amazing how well Paul Bostaph has fitted in, really, on every level it’s been such a positive experience.”
“This is like family,” says Bostaph. “I’ve known all these guys for over 20 years, we’ve played together, bands I’ve been in have toured with them and I am a huge Testament fan, so joining this time was a huge no-brainer. And again, as Greg said, for me it was a case of giving myself to what this Testament album needed, and that was my only focus, making sure that the band got exactly what it needed from it’s drummer.”
In closing, take a moment to consider the following…
In 1988, Testament spoke of a new order and here, in 2008, Testament speak of the formation of damnation.
“It’s of our time right now,” concludes Peterson, “the world we live in is rife with aggravation, politics is forever more about money rather than doing what’s right, we all keep taking from mother earth… human beings are basically done! We’re setting ourselves up big-time for damnation, and that’s what these songs talk about, from love to politics to holy wars, it’s all there, it’s all written about.”
You probably don’t want to hazard a guess as to what Testament, the true societal prophets of rage, will be speaking of in 2028…

Candlebox – biography

candlebox

It’s a miraculous yet familiar tale. Group of friends form a band, works their asses off gigging around town, cuts some demos, secures a recording contract, writes a hit or two, emerges from local obscurity to global touring and sales success, hits a creative and interpersonal wall, disbands, wanders in individual obscurity for a few years, gets back together, older, wiser, produces the best effort of their career and does it all over again.

Okay, granted, it’s a grand simplification but a fairly accurate depiction of Candlebox, whose 1993 self-titled debut – released in the midst of the northwest existential musical, cultural maelstrom known as ‘grunge’ – rose above the grey Seattle mist to global notoriety. They grew up with the flannel-clad locals but Candlebox was not a grunge band, riding the coattails of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and a ‘scene’ whose explosion took on mythical proportions. They rocked without being labeled or attached to a movement, pure and true to their melodic instincts, and sold six million records in the process.

Singer Kevin Martin and guitarist Peter Klett — the songwriting team that birthed Candlebox –were reunited with original drummer Scott Mercado by the 2006 Rhino/Warner Brothers retrospective, Best of Candlebox. After being away from the music kingdom for nearly seven years, the band was welcomed back with open arms, invited to play radio shows across the country with Top 10 multi-platinum artists. More importantly, these longtime compositional compatriots discovered that the time and tide apart had nurtured enhanced chemistry and mutual personal evolution that has now manifested in a cache of new songs that leave their past works, for lack of a better phrase, far behind.

“I left the band after the Happy Pills Tour in 1999,” says Klett. “Got really drunk, did a bunch of drugs, played golf, moved to California, moved back to Seattle, fell down the stairs and got sober. Kevin called me while I was fronting a band called Red Light and told me about the Rhino project. Said it’d be a shame if we didn’t go out and do some dates, which we did in the summer of ’06. And the fans came out and it was very validating. We started writing together again in early ’07 and it was beautiful.”

When you’ve been writing about rock n’ roll for more than 20 years like I have, it’s easy to be sucked into hyperbole, especially when you’re on assignment but with my pedigree and professional cred on my sleeve, I report with all candor that the new Candlebox long play is one of the most musically accomplished, lyrically insightful and downright magical records I’ve heard in years. Under the studio aegis of producer Ron Aniello (Barenaked Ladies/Lifehouse) and engineer Cliff Norrell, (Henry Rollins, REM), Martin’s punk and Klett’s classic rock roots have woven to form a breathtaking collection of eclectic tunes worthy of deeper assessment.

Into The Sun is set for release on 7/22/08 and Candlebox will take these songs to the people with a worldwide tour and live presentation commensurate to the power of the record. The LP is a bold, eclectic mix of rhythms and textures highlighted by the ambitious, eight-minute plus Pink Floyd-ian opus called “Breathe Me,” a balls to the walls ballad inspired by Martin’s Australian wife. “You’re a deep-rooted tree, an artist’s muse/I watch you listen, I watch you share/You make me want more, and you make me scared/You’re so much more than I ever hoped.” Maturation of emotion cometh from the creative road less traveled. “That song is about how much I love my wife,” says Martin. “Peter and I have evolved as songwriters, musicians and friends. We paint with much broader strokes now.”

This growth is evident on the metallic rocker, “Underneath It All,” a heavy, crunchy, very electric and existential examination of the gypsy in all of us, highlighted by Klett’s swirling, echoing Robin Trower-like guitar riffs. “People think life on the road is a dream,” observes Martin. “It isn’t. It’s lonely and oft times, troublesome. If it weren’t for the fans and their energy, I’d just as soon stay home. But that’s what feeds the gypsy soul. That connection.”

On the further topic of connection is the song, “Surrendering,” a poetic call to action for wounded warriors of aching heart and good intent, it’s theme is archetypal but no less resonant now than during the classic Crooner days of another Martin (Dean) and his compatriot, old Blue Eyes Sinatra. Elsewhere, Martin delves deeper into his well of human experience with the song, “Miss You,” inspired by his late father. “My dad was a World War II vet who died four years ago at age 81,” he says. “He would call me every June 6th and tell me another story about how he survived Omaha Beach. That song is about how I got to know my dad through the war stories he told me.”

“Consider Us” is a powerful track about death also inspired by Martin’s father but pointing to his own new responsibility of parenthood. “I’m not sure I’ve gotten more mystical as I approach mid life,” he observes, “but my dad has visited me in my dreams several times since his passing. Now that I have a child, life has definitely gotten more profound.”

In this brave new fiercely competitive world of evaporating record companies, digital downloads and My Space created rock stars, when artists are given a rare second chance, they know they must rise to the occasion. Candlebox disappeared but they have most definitely returned and this time, it’s not the scene or the culture or the media doing the talking. It’s the music. And that is miraculous.

My Morning Jacket- biography

my morning jacket

“The world today is such a confused place. Things that people think are good values are obviously twisted, but there are other things considered evil that obviously aren’t. There is real evil out there, but “Evil Urges” is about how all of these things that you’ve been told are evil really aren’t, unless they’re actually hurting something or somebody.” —Jim James

There’s an old saying that every human cell in the body is changed over a period of seven years, thus every seven years we become a new person. If this is the case My Morning Jacket has defied this idiom by collectively shedding its skin innumerable times since its inception a decade ago in Louisville, Kentucky.

The past several My Morning Jacket albums have each reflected the passion that the band shares for music of all categories while continuing to nurture their signature aesthetic. Stylistically, Evil Urges is the album that My Morning Jacket has been making for almost ten years. Their previous work has emboldened them with the confidence to continue to grow in ways few artists would be capable of achieving. Admirably, Jim James’ songwriting manages to remain as organic and cohesive as ever, making their musical leaps forward fluid, logical, entertaining, and inspiring.

More than ever before, the band treated the studio itself as a musical instrument for the recording of Evil Urges. Thus co-producers Jim James and Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, White Stripes) truly collaborated on the band’s most ambitious and convincingly executed album to date.

Although their last album, Okonokos, has been hailed as one of the best live albums of the new millennium, My Morning Jacket is a band that holds no desire to merely replicate their past work. As kinetic and transcendent as their legendary shows are, the band is not attempting to achieve concert realism with the recording of the new album. Within opening track, “Evil Urges,” alone, this focused eclecticism is immediately evident. It is clear that My Morning Jacket have officially outgrown their ‘best live band’ label. Now, Jim James (guitar, vox), Two Tone Tommy (bass), Patrick Hallahan (drums), Carl Broemel (guitar) and Bo Koster (keys) are ready to be the best band, period.

Jamey Johnson – biography

jamey johnson

He could be basking in his songwriting accolades, but Jamey Johnson remains a restlessly creative maverick.

Jamey is the co-writer of the CMA and ACM 2007 Song of the Year “Give It Away,” recorded by George Strait. Trace Adkins, George Jones and Joe Nichols have also recorded his songs. But instead of sitting at home counting his royalty checks, Jamey Johnson recorded more than 40 songs during the past year.

Not content with providing hits for others, the singer-songwriter has a powerful drive to sing, record and perform.

“Writing is not enough for me,” says this intense artist. “I did not come here to just be a writer. I live to play….I’m not here to take a stab at it. I am going to DO it.”

Following a deep period of isolation and introspection, Jamey Johnson entered the recording studio in April 2007. Within months, Jamey emerged with That Lonesome Song, a collection of extraordinary compositions that is equally noteworthy for its lyrical craftsmanship and its strikingly original sound.

The set burns with the emotional heat of songs such as “Angel” and “That Lonesome Song.” Turn one corner and you’ll find the dark humor of “Mowin’ Down the Roses” and “Women.” Turn another and you’ll find the soft contemplation of “The Last Cowboy” or “Place Out on the Ocean.” Jamey’s life sets the tone for the autobiographical “Stars in Alabama” and “Between Jennings and Jones.” And speaking of Waylon Jennings, Jamey pays tribute to his idol by covering “Dreaming My Dreams” and “The Door Is Always Open.”

At the heart of That Lonesome Song is a trio of great story songs. The frank lyric of “High Cost of Living” paints a dramatic portrait of a man who hits bottom and winds up in prison. “Mary Go Round” is the cautionary tale of a woman who goes through a divorce and loses her moral compass. “In Color,” the collection’s first single, is the moving depiction of a man looking back at his life in black-and-white photographs.

“The album never stops,” comments Jamey. “The whole album is one lonesome song, and that’s why it’s called That Lonesome Song. Every song is lonesome in its own way, even the funny ones.

“It’s been a work of love. We just had such a good time pulling it all together.”

Making music comes as naturally to Jamey Johnson as breathing. He was raised outside Montgomery, Alabama in a family that was poor but highly musical. Like so many country musicians, Jamey first performed gospel music in churches with his father.

“We would get up and do a song. Somebody would hear it and go, ‘Man, you don’t even know, but that just hit me right where I needed to be hit today.’ I got used to that at an early age. That’s what music is for. It’s to reach people. And I carry that with me today. I honestly don’t care about the money.”

Jamey is a study in contrasts. He was raised in a devout household, yet he spent part of his youth drinking beer and playing country songs at night on the Montgomery tombstone of Hank Williams. He has a backwoods upbringing, but is a formally trained musician who knew music theory as early as junior high school. He is deadly serious about his music, yet has an outrageous sense of humor. With his piercing pale-blue eyes and biker beard, he looks like a hell raiser, but he has the heart of a poet.

He seems like a rebel, but Jamey spent eight years as a member of the highly disciplined U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. The week he was discharged, the rest of his unit was ordered to Iraq.

By then, Jamey Johnson was in Nashville trying to launch a country career. He arrived on Jan. 1, 2000, spending every dime he had to make the move. He took a job as a salesman for a sign company, then worked for an industrial pumping company. In 2001-2004 he ran his own successful construction firm, restoring buildings devastated by fires, hurricanes or tornadoes.

Performing in Nashville nightspots led to work singing songwriters’ “demo” tapes on Music Row. Producer Buddy Cannon was impressed with Jamey’s soulful singing, as well as the direct honesty of his songwriting. Song publisher Gary Overton signed Jamey to EMI Music and joined Buddy in the effort to land him a recording contract.

Those efforts paid off with a label deal and Jamey’s hit single “The Dollar” in 2005. He hit the road – and the honky-tonks – with relish.

“Think about my life: I got right out of high school. Then it was eight years in the Marine Corps. I never got to go through that college experience where most kids get to go buck wild. Then I opened a construction company. Got married. Had a daughter. I’ve had responsibility galore on me for years, so when I got that record deal, that was my party. Me and my friends would go take over a bar. We were just as wild as hell and having the time of our lives. Everywhere we went, a crowd followed. I don’t mean 20 or 30 people. I mean like a couple of hundred.”

“We took that same element out on the road with us. Everywhere we went we packed out them bars and did a good job. The bars made money. The crowd had a good time.”

But as a consequence, Jamey acquired the reputation of being a country-music “bad boy.” Rumors and speculation flew, exaggerating his escapades. He admits he was a little wild, but emphasizes that he always delivered the goods, professionally. During this time, he and his wife separated, then divorced. In addition, his record company’s enthusiasm cooled and he lost his recording contract.

“They thought I was a little too wild,” Jamey reflects. “They thought I was a little too rowdy. They did what they had to do. If I was in their position, I’d have probably done the same thing.”

“I turned into a recluse for about a year. I wouldn’t talk to anybody. I wouldn’t go out to clubs. I didn’t want to be at any party. I quit drinking for more than a year. In that respect, losing my deal was a good thing. Because I finally had time to come home and get my life back in order. More than anything, I stayed home and just sat there dwelling on things. It takes an awful lot of thinking to get through something like a divorce.”

“The thing that really carried me through all of that was the writing success. Trace Adkins and George Strait kept money in my bank account and kept my name out there. They pretty much carried me on their shoulders through that period, and didn’t even realize they were doing that. They just liked my songs.”

When he began to work on That Lonesome Song, Jamey says he felt a renewed sense of purpose and freedom. “Nobody was watching. We didn’t use a lot of the automation gadgetry. We spent so much time on the mix, just making sure you could hear every foot patting the floor, every creak of the chair. If someone turned around to adjust an amp, I wanted to hear their back pop. If their knuckles cracked, I wanted to hear it all.”

“After we got done, we knew we had something. I guess around summertime, we started bringing people in to listen to it.”

Word began to spread on Music Row. Two record companies approached Jamey. Both wanted him to either record the songs over again or have outsiders’ songs included on the project. Jamey turned both down.

“From now on, I want it to be my decision whether or not I sing something or I don’t. So just on principle, we turned them down. Luke Lewis at Mercury Records was the first person who understood. He said, ‘Man, I’ve just got one thing to say – don’t mess with that sound. I don’t know what y’all are doing in that studio, but just don’t mess with that sound.’ I said, ‘Hell, I came here to tell you that.’ Ever since then, it’s been a great relationship.”

Lalah Hathaway – biography

lalah hathaway

Ask her to describe her voice and she might say it feels like, sounds like, soul. But when it comes to defining the essence of music, itself, Lalah Hathaway can go on and on…

“Music is so textured and layered,” she says, “and it is an absolute entity in my life. It’s three-dimensional, it’s tangible, and when I die, I’ll say goodbye to it, just as I will to everyone standing around my bed.”

In the four years since she’s blessed the people with a set of songs, she’s been “working, writing music and living a very, simple life. Many people think that you’re just lounging between albums, but that time for me was about trying to find a place to land that will give you the opportunity to create something artful, something mindful,” Lalah notes.

With SELF PORTRAIT, (Stax Records/Concord Music Group), her fifth studio album, including the Joe Sample duet, and on which she co-wrote and co-produced, Hathaway is poised to express who she is, where she is, today, at this very moment. For starters, she is an artist, of course, but she’s also a devoted daughter, culture junkie and a good friend, even. But not necessarily in that order.

“This album is like a movie of my life over the last couple of years,” she says. “The portrait I see of myself is of a very confident, smart woman who is extremely funny, independently wealthy and well-traveled – all things that I am to a small degree, she laughs. “Every day, I realize that I’m walking toward the woman I’m going to be. She’s there. I can see her. “

Leading the 12-song collection is “Let Go,” a dance-oriented, up-tempo number she produced with Rex Rideout and wrote alongside Rahsaan Patterson. And just as the title suggests, the song is about acknowledging and releasing whatever’s not working to make room for the next experience. “I’ve had to let go of quite a few things, quite a few situations and a couple of mindsets,” she admits about the origins of her first single. “Every so often, I have to remind myself to just let some stuff go – from people and relationships to an old pair of jeans.”

While it might seem that “On Your Own,” which re-teams her with Rideout and Patterson, is inspired by a past heartbreak, in fact, the idea for the song came to her in a dream. “My father was singing to me and telling me that I could make it on my own,” she reflects. Keeping in step with the theme of family, she journeys back to her childhood with “Little Girl,” which she co-produced with Rideout and penned with Patterson and Sandra St. Victor. When she reminisces about growing up under the watchful eye of her mother, she’s always felt the presence of her father in her life.

On “That Was Then,” which she produced with Rideout and written with St. Victor, Hathaway recalls her former self and how much she didn’t know way back then. “I called Sandra in Amsterdam on a Tuesday and said, ‘I don’t know what to write,’” she says. “She was there, helping me craft the melody, by Friday. She’s a baaad girl.” Closing out the album is the Hathaway-produced, “Tragic Inevitability,” a song that stands out for her because of its fluidity. “My friend told me that she got some love while listening to this song, which horrified me and made me happy at the same time,” she remembers. “The track was sent to me by two cats from Amsterdam, Wiboud Burkens and Manuel Hugas, whom I met with Sandra. I just wrote the words that came to me.” As she sings about the things that will no longer be, you might actually feel soothed because, after all, the only constant is change. Life is funny that way.

Born to Donny Hathaway, one of the most influential soul artists of the seventies, and Eulaulah Hathaway, an accomplished musician in her own right, the Chicago native first put pen to paper, “with the music,” as a 10th grader. Later, as a student at Berklee College of Music, she recorded her self-titled debut in 1990, which spawned the hits “Baby Don’t Cry,” “Heaven Only Knows” and “I’m Coming Back.” She returned four years later with A Moment, followed by the much-lauded The Song Lives On, her duet album with Joe Sample in 1999, the same year she began growing her now-signature, cinnamon-hued ‘locs. By 2004, she’d deliver her fourth album, Outrun the Sky, garnering Hathaway her first number one single, the Rex Rideout-produced cover of Luther Vandross’ Forever, For Always, For Love, which was also featured on the critically-acclaimed Vandross tribute album of the same name.

Although she has created a space for herself, it’s not surprising that Hathaway remains connected to her late, great father and his classic sound. “I am his daughter,” she says, softly, “and that’s the truth of who I am, every day. When I was 15, and then, 20, I didn’t get why people were asking me how I felt about him and his music. But when I turned 25, I began to understand. Like my father, I want to leave a legacy of music that makes people really feel something, whether it be happiness, sadness, grief or heartache. I also want them to appreciate my humor which I know can be difficult to interpret in a song.”

In the meantime and between album projects, Hathaway – who’s recorded collaborations with Marcus Miller, Meshell Ndegéocello and Mary J. Blige, among them – keeps her creativity nourished by taking to the global stage and contributing her voice to Daughters of Soul, a musical mélange founded by comrade, Sandra St. Victor, and featuring Nona Hendryx, Joyce Kennedy as well as Indira and Simone, daughters of Chaka Khan and Nina Simone, respectively.

So, how does she hope her latest offering will be received?

“I don’t necessarily want to fit into what’s happening now,” she says of today’s marketplace, “but I want to stand with it, on my own thing. I would really love it if people need the record. I put a lot of myself into this album, so I hope people can hear me and understand who I am.”

Ashanti – biography

ashanti

Ashanti brings her best game and more on her fourth studio album, the aptly titled The Declaration, arriving in June of 2008 as the most complete and compelling offering of her career. A soaring collection of new tracks, penned by the multi-talented artist, the intricately produced album captures her alluring presence and incredible vocal range.

The Declaration is an impressive rollout of A-list producers, including Jermaine Dupri, LT Hutton, Babyface, Pharrell Williams, Bryan Michael Cox and others. A sizzling snapshot of the heat-seeking Ashanti can be gleamed from the new single; “The Way That I Love You” produced LT Hutton. The song skillfully plays up the ever-present voice of the star. You can feel Ashanti reveling in her new-found independence, which she effortlessly displays with a powerful sense of purpose throughout every song on the new album. “One of the reasons I call the album ‘The Declaration,’ is because I feel it’s important to present all sides of what being a woman is about,” she says. “Historically, we’ve always been relegated to the bottom of the totem pole, whether it’s business or the battle of the sexes or just empowering each other. I want this album to make people feel stronger about themselves. I’ve always used the ups and downs in my own life as well as others close to me as a motivational tool and I hope my music comes off that way. I felt a lot of passion making this record. I loved every minute I was in the studio.”

Singer/Songwriter, Actor, Author Ashanti is a native of Glen Cove, Long Island. She burst onto the music scene with her 2002 smash hit debut album self-titled Ashanti. The album landed at the #1 spot on both the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album charts, selling a whopping 504,593 units in its first week. Her first week set a Sound scan record as the most albums sold by any debut female artist in the chart’s history, granting her a spot in the Guinness book of world records. Simultaneously, Ashanti also secured the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart and the R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart with her song, “Foolish.” She made Billboard history by having her first three chart entries land in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. She is the first female to accomplish this feat previously only attained by the Beatles. That year she was awarded 8 Billboard Awards. Her album “Ashanti” topped the Billboard Album Chart and also won the Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album. In addition, that year she won 2 American Music Awards and the Soul Train Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the year Award. Her follow-up release, “Chapter II,” debuted in the no. 1 slot on the Billboard Album Chart and spawned two Top-10 singles. In addition to her Grammy, she’s also won an NAACP Image Award. Numerous Soul Train Awards, A MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Award, A Comet Award (Grammy Equivalent in Germany), Lady of Soul Awards and a Teen Choice and Nickelodeon’s Kid Choice Award, along with many other nominations including an MTV movie award nomination for “Coach Carter.” Ashanti’s other albums include “Ashanti’s Christmas”, “Concrete Rose”, and a remix album titled, “Collectibles by Ashanti”.

Ashanti is hot off the #1 box office hit, “Resident Evil Extinction” staring opposite Milla Jovovich for Sony Screen Gems. Previously, she stared in the hugely successful “John Tucker Must Die” in an ensemble cast composed of Ashanti, Brittany Snow, Sofia Bush, Ariel Kebble and Jessie Metcalfe. In her feature film debut “Coach Carter,” she co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson. She can be seen as an Indian Songstress who sings in Hindi and English as she dances in the film, “Bride & Prejudice.” Ashanti made her telefilm debut helming “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz,” opposite Miss Piggy and Kermit. She got her start in acting on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” and portrayed Dionne Warwick on “American Dreams.”

She has written her first book of poetry through Hyperion titled Foolish/Unfoolish: Reflections on Love which is currently in its sixth edition.

Ashanti is also an entrepreneur who has her own fragrance, “Precious Jewel” sold at Wal-Mart and other fine stores as well as a Dietary Supplement “Ashanti’s OPC-3 Beauty Blend”.

Her endorsements include: Herbal Essences, where she is the first African American to land a national campaign, Candies Apparel, as well as MUDD Jeans, “DELICIOUS CURVES”.

Ashanti has performed before Presidents and Royalty. She has performed duets with the likes of Pattie Labelle, Smokie Robinson, Ronald Isley, Stevie Wonder and Kenny Chesney to name a few. She has appeared on shows ranging from Oprah, Ellen, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Regis & Kelly, Saturday Night Live, The View, Conan O’Brien, BET 106 & Park, MTV TRL, VH1 and Fuse TV among others. She has performed on virtually every music awards show from the American Music Awards to the Grammy’s, the MTV Video Music Awards, MTV Europe Awards, the Soul Train Awards and the Kids’ Choice Awards. She is an American Favorite, singing the National Anthem and God Bless America for major events including the World Series.