Musicians everywhere start bands and dream of moving the world with their songs. But how many have done so in the face of such formidable odds as the Refugee All Stars?
David Rosenthal has played keyboards with artists as diverse as Robert Palmer, Enrique Iglesias, Rainbow and Cyndi Lauper. But he's perhaps best known for his current gig: keys for Billy Joel.
In just a decade, film composer Harry Gregson-Williams has risen from an associate in Hans Zimmer's studio to become one of Hollywood's preeminent film composers. Gregson-Williams's credits include such recent blockbusters as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Shrek 2, and director Ridley Scott's crusader epic, Kingdom of Heaven. We recently spoke with Gregson-Williams about the ins and outs of creating music for picture.
What do you do after you've reached the top of your profession? If you're bassist-turned-music director Rickey Minor, you find the next hill to climb.
Minor toured the world as Whitney Houston's musical director and produced her Superbowl national anthem performance. He's received Emmy nominations for overseeing such shows as 2004's Genius: A Night For Ray Charles. He's helped assemble bands for artists like Usher, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Mary J. Blige. And starting last season, he took on a new challenge: music director for the smash American Idol series.
A decade with rap-rock ruffians Limp Bizkit made Wes Borland one of the most visible guitarists of his generation. But Borland's on/off partnership with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst now seems to be permanently off. "We recently had another falling out," sighs Wes. "We've decided we just can't work together anymore."
Longtime Elton John keyboardist Guy Babylon recently saw the culmination of three years' hard work on the musical Lestat, for which he was musical supervisor. Lestat, a new Broadway production that opened in April 2006, is based on Anne Rice's best-selling novel Interview with the Vampire, with songs by Sir Elton himself.
British singer/pianist Jamie Cullum is known for updated arrangements of jazz standards, unconventional cover tunes, and his own distinctive compositions. On his major-label debut, 2003's Twentysomething, and 2005's Catching Tales, Cullum combines a crooner's sensibility with a smart, sometimes acerbic lyric sense, moving effortlessly from neo-retro mood music to smart-guy pop.
Steve Gadd is one of the most respected drummers of all time. Equally at home on stage or in the studio, comfortable in all styles from intricate jazz to the simplest pop, Gadd brings impeccable taste, feel, and musicianship to every project he graces. No wonder he's been the drummer of choice for Paul Simon, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Barbra Streisand, Eric Clapton, Carly Simon, Chick Corea, Frank Sinatra, and countless other artists.
The last five years have been a high-speed trip to the top for wild-child singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne. Signed to Arista Records at age 16, she captivated the pop world with her attitude-filled songwriting, gung-ho guitar playing, and confrontational vocals. In contrast to her squeaky-clean teen-pop peers, Avril projected a gritty, tough, don't-mess-with-me vibe with chart-topping hits like "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi."
Johnny Caswell runs down the list: "The Academy Awards. The Grammy Awards. The American Music Awards. The MTV Video Music Awards. The Billboard Awards. The ESPYs. The Golden Globes. On and on and on--it never stops."