After the sensational three-night run of Prince in Oakland, California, I got to log some serious hang time with Cassandra O'Neal, the keyboard ingenue who joins New Power Generation veterans Morris Hayes and Renato Neto onstage. The show, needless to say, was full of incredible musicianship and energy, with the band playing all the hits you'd expect to hear, plus a few funk classics like Sly and the Family Stone's "Thank You Falettin Me Be Mice Elf" and the Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster." They even payed homage to Purple Rain screen rivals Morris Day and the Time with "The Bird" and "Jungle Love." Legendary funk bassist Larry Graham played bass, and who other than Sheila E brought it on percussion and sometimes the drum kit--yes, they played "Glamorous Life."
Cassandra and I descended on Guitar Center on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, where the awesome crew there accommodated us with a quiet studio demo room in which to set up Cassie's favorite keyboard, the Yamaha Motif XF. In the following videos, she informs and entertains about sounds and voicings used onstage, what she learned from playing Gospel music in church, and much, much more.
Interested in how Gospel can inject some much-needed spirit into your own playing? Check out Cassandra's instructional DVD on Gospel impresario Sebastian Wheat's label, Wheatworks.
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