"Not fitting into a specific musical category definitely has its pros and cons," notes pop/classical vocalist Josh Groban. "It's a struggle sometimes, because people try to categorize you. But blending genres is what inspires me. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Nashville-based engineer/producer Chuck Ainlay's discography reads like a roll call of country music nobility: Steve Earle, George Strait, Conway Twitty, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and the Dixie Chicks all appear on the list.
The band Keane's distinctive piano-based pop has seduced millions of ears, both in the trio's native England and abroad. In Keane's emotive songs, Tom Chaplin's soaring vocals, keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley's vintage Yamaha CP70B piano, and Richard Hughes' subtle drum shadings merge into a dynamic and complex sound world.
Not long after the Arizona Diamondbacks joined major-league baseball in 1998, the team began a meteoric rise through the National League ranks, culminating in a stunning win over the New York Yankees at the 2001 World Series. And from the start, the D-Backs' "musical mascot," keyboardist Bobby Freeman, has been there to cheer the team on.
Drummer Greg Hutchinson rose to fame in the '90s as part of a new generation of jazz musicians with old-school sensibilities. Like his sometime collaborators, trumpeter Roy Hargrove and saxophonist Joshua Redman, Hutchinson blended youthful fire with a well-informed perspective on classic jazz.
Veteran Nashville keyboardist Steve Peffer has played around the world and on dozens of national television shows with such artists as LeAnn Rimes, Sara Evans and Martina McBride. He's also a session player with his own studio, where he's recently begun producing other artists.
Countless bands toil in obscurity for years, hoping for one big break. But for some, that break comes a lot more quickly.
Case in point: the Flipsyde, a hip-hop quartet that exploded out of Oakland, California, last year thanks to their We the People album and its powerful single, "Someday." Within three months of forming, multiple labels were courting the group. They ultimately signed with Interscope after auditioning in the office of label head Jimmy Iovine with a drum machine and acoustic guitars.
Since the early 1990s, keyboardist Loren Gold has worked with one teen-pop phenomenon after another--initially as musical director for teenage sensation Tiffany, then as a session player on records by such artists as Mandy Moore and Mindi Abair. And for the past several years, he's been music director for singer/actress Hilary Duff, currently touring the world in support of her Still Most Wanted album.
For thirty-five years Tommy Aldridge's fiery drumming has defined hard-rock showmanship. He's renowned for his virtuosity, groove, and for innovating such techniques as the use of double kick drums and playing with his bare hands.
"I am obsessed with the piano," confesses singer-songwriter Judith Owen. "I can't put it any other way. I own five pianos. If I walk into someone's house and there's a piano, I immediately have to excuse myself and go over to see it, like it's a dog. I literally get goose-pimples when I'm around a piano."