Carole King for her prolific songwriting and arranging, her recognizable piano style and her soulful, honest voice. Ever since I discovered Tapestry in my mother’s record collection, its songs have been a source of both inspiration and comfort.
Aretha Franklin. The skill with which she uses her voice is incomparable. I’m inspired whenever I hear the pure, gut-wrenching soul flowing from her music.
George Harrison. His songwriting, guitar playing, voice. My Sweet Lord and Give Me Love are embedded in my heart. His collaboration with Ravi Shankar produced so many gifts for the world. George’s mantra music - so reverently sincere, yet his style is so evident.
People who influenced my music
My mother. She was my first music teacher, gave me my first piano and guitar lessons, and taught me music theory. I have many memories of standing next to her singing songs while she sang with me and played the piano. She imparted an appreciation of all forms of music, and exposed me to lots of live music growing up. I have fond memories of her taking me and some of her other music students to see the L.os Angeles Philharmonic rehearse at the Hollywood Bowl.
The music professor who rejected my application into his university percussion program — twice! I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been for my first audition. But, I worked very hard to prepare for my second audition. I was young and hinged my future plans on being accepted into this particular music program. The rejection forced me to focus on other musical opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I began singing, writing and playing keys in a rock band, and playing in an African marimba band. Interestingly, the marimba band I played in was later invited by that very same professor to perform a concert at the music school.
All of the music teachers, students and musicians I’ve worked with continue to help me grow and expand as a musician, songwriter and human being. My circle of musical influence expands each and every day.