TALENT SCOUT - Jarrod Lawson

By Jon Regen | Photo by Haleah Blank ,

Jarrod Lawson has toured around the globe since releasing his self-titled debut album to great acclaim in 2014. He’s a singer, songwriter and keyboardist who fuses soul, jazz and R&B into a sound all his own. That's why he’s our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.

NAME: Jarrod Steven Lawson

HOMETOWN: Portland, Oregon

MUSICAL TRAINING: I’m predominantly self-taught, but I received early training and guidance from my father Steven around the age of 13-14 years old when I first took interest in the piano. He gave me direction, opened my ears to jazz harmony, and helped me to understand basic chord theory.

FIRST GIGS: My first mentionable gig was with a weekly trio in my home town of Portland with two of the baddest cats you ’ll ever hear, guitarist Jay Koder and drummer Reinhardt Melz, both of whom are now part of Gino Vannelli ’s band. That gig lasted for a couple of years and was extremely influential to my evolution, particularly as a left hand bassist, a skill that I now take much pride in.

MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Stevie Wonder will always be number one for me. I feel that the path I have chosen as a singer/songwriter/keyboardist with an emphasis on composing meaningful, socially conscious lyrics, is largely thanks to the influence of Stevie ’s incomparably beautiful music on my young, impressionable mind. For me, no artist in the history of music has better melded and mastered those components. Among the enormous list of other influences are Joni Mitchell, Donny Hathaway, Bob Marley, Paul Simon, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Jaco Pastorius, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Moonchild - “Voyager”, Hiatus Kaiyote - “Choose Your Weapon”, Diego el Cigala & Niño Josele - “Teatro Real”, Resolution 88 - “Afterglow”.

MY BIG BREAK: Honestly, it ’s a strange story, but back in 2014 when I released my eponymous debut album, I did no promotion leading up to the release date whatsoever. I literally just decided to throw it up on iTunes one day with no expectation of what would follow. About a month later, an impossible onslaught of inquiries began flooding my social media and email inboxes from DJ ’s in the U.K. and around Europe who had stumbled upon my album and hungered to know who I was and where this music came from. It was the catalyst that then led me to several rigorous tours throughout all of Europe, Japan and Indonesia, and garnered me a half dozen prestigious awards such as Jazz FM ’s “Soul Artist of the Year, ” and a runner-up position in Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards for 2014.

LATEST ALBUM: I have yet to finish my second LP, but I have been hard at work on it and expect to release it in Spring of 2018, assuming everything goes according to plan.

FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? These days, my go-to live performance keyboard is the Nord Stage 2. The piano, Rhodes, Wurli, clav and organ renderings are pretty untouchable on that board for my taste. I hear the Stage 3 is out now... I'm salivating at a chance to get my hands on one (stroking beard anxiously). I have in my personal arsenal a choice vintage 1974 88 key Rhodes (my baby), a Wurli 200A, a Roland JP-8000, a Moog Little Phatty Stage 2, a Nord Stage 2 Compact, and an old Yamaha Motif ES8, all of which I love and use consistently for the collective variety of timbres and tones that I can tap into. I have to say, the Motif has been invaluable to me over the past 15 years. The vast selection of sounds available are astounding and it is a champion in terms of its ability to quickly let the user get musical ideas out via its 16 track sequencer.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? In addition to finishing up my second full length album, I'm working on both a Latin/Soul project with the incomparable percussionist Sammy Figueroa as well as an electronic music endeavor with my friend Jack Roberts. 

ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: My advice is to say something with your music. The world doesn’t need more art that demeans women, glorifies infidelity and drug abuse, promotes intolerance and spreads hatred. The world needs more art that promotes brotherhood, inclusion, peace, kindness and compassion toward other human beings of all colors, creeds, sexes, and walks of life. 

For more information, visitwww.jarrodlawsonmusic.com

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