Chris Rodriguez has an unusual vantage point in the music business. As a vocalist, he's appeared on albums by Glen Campbell, Faith Hill, Dolly Parton, and Billy Joel. As a guitarist, he's played with the likes of Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald- and he's released a solo record, Beggar's Paradise, on Sony. He's also Vice President of A&R for Word Entertainment, Warner Music Group's contemporary Christian imprint.
Singer/pianist Charlotte Martin doesn't know when to quit-fortunately for her. After completing college and moving to Los Angeles from her Illinois hometown, the classically trained Martin got a record deal on Bong Load/RCA. She recorded her first disc, One Girl Army, with producer Tom Rothrock (Beck, Foo Fighters). But just as things started to move ahead for Martin, the label decided not to release the record.
When legendary grunge-era group Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, drummer Matt Cameron was out of a job-for about five minutes. Matt's own band, Wellwater Conspiracy (with Monster Magnet guitarist John Mcbain and keyboardist Glen Slater from The Walkabouts), recently released its fourth album. He's appeared on solo records from such rock icons as Rush bassist Geddy Lee and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi. And, most visibly, Matt has served as Pearl Jam's drummer since 1998.
Joey DeFrancesco is largely responsible for returning the electronic organ to its central role in jazz, blues and R&B. When Joey issued his debut album, All of Me, in 1989 at the tender age of 17, the instrument had all but vanished from contemporary music. Now it's everywhere-and many new players have been inspired by Joey's stunning virtuosity and funky groove.
Nashville songwriter/producer Jon Vezner is a consummate musical craftsman whose songs have been recorded by such artists as Faith Hill, Patti Page, Martina McBride, and Vezner's wife, Grammy-winning singer Kathy Mattea. But when we caught up with him, he was on his way to pick up supplies for a different kind of craft: woodturning.
In today's sample-anything era, it's easy to forget just how bold a move it was when a handful of young musicians first melded rock and jazz back in the late '60s.
Master percussionist Alex Acuna has lent groove, color and texture to countless recordings in an astonishing array of styles. His list of performing and recording credits reads like a music dictionary: U2, Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley, Weather Report, Al Jarreau, Joni Mitchell, Yellowjackets, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Chucho Valdez, Placido Domingo, Julio Iglesias, Whitney Houston, Seal-and we could keep going for a long, long time.
Guitarist Jon Herington has played with artists as diverse as Michael and Randy Brecker, Eliane Elias, the Bacon Brothers, and most recently, Steely Dan and Bette Midler. But it's taken him a while to come to terms with his own versatility.
Pastor Andrae Crouch is one of the leading lights in contemporary gospel music. In addition to singing, playing piano and writing songs with his own group, he has performed and arranged backing vocals for a host of top artists, including Madonna, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Julio Iglesias, and Quincy Jones.
Ray Charles isn't just a giant of American music. He is American music.
As a singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and bandleader, Charles has left an indelible stamp on rock, R&B, blues, jazz, and country, often by single-handedly redefining the boundaries between them.