I knew about keyboardist Shaun Martin long before I ran into him in an elevator at a jazz festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Grammy-winning Dallas native has made a name for himself playing with and producing some of the most storied artists of our time - from Erykah Badu, Chaka Kahn and Kirk Franklin, to Snarky Puppy, Timbaland, The Weeknd, and beyond. And to top it off, he's also a gifted solo artist in his own right. Get to know our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.
NAME: Harold LaShaun Martin (but I go by Shaun Martin)
HOMETOWN: Dallas, Texas
MUSICAL TRAINING: I studied privately with Carolyn Campbell as well as at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Weatherford College, The University of North Texas, and church!
FIRST GIGS: Most of my first gigs were playing gospel music. I played keys and Hammond B-3 organ for a gospel legend named Vanessa Bell Armstrong, as well as a community choir out of Dallas called God's Property. The rest, as they say, is history. Another one of my early gigs was with Erykah Badu. I worked on the Mama's Gun album with her while I was a junior in college at UNT.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: I'm an avid fan of Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, George Duke, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, J Dilla, Timbaland, and Chuckii Booker
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Aside from my influences, Robert Glasper ("F$ck Yo Feelings" is genius). I'm also digging into Cory Henry, RC & The Gritz (also from Dallas, TX), Bill Lawrence, Christian Sands, Erykah Badu, and Khruangbin.
MY BIG BREAK: I can't really say when my "Big Break" was... I think one thing just led to another. I'm not sure if I've even had that big break yet. One thing that was cool was playing for God's Property. We managed to record a triple platinum album and that led to the relationship I have with Kirk Franklin. Now I co-produce his albums.
LATEST PROJECTS: I co-produced Long Live Love with Kirk Franklin, which is now nominated for a Grammy Award. I released a trio album last year, entitled Focus, and I just finished a seven month world tour with Snarky Puppy. And I'm a new Dad.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? I love the Korg Kronos a lot. It's as if I never run out of possibilities and the keyboard action is great. I love the Moog Little Phatty. It soungs great and it's quick for me to get around on and I like that, especially in live situations. In the studio, it's the Minimoog Model D... all day! As a matter of fact, I love all keyboards born before 1984. They all have character. I do have my eye on some Dave Smith/Sequential instruments, though.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I'm working on another trio album with two young guns; Matthew Ramsey on bass and Mike Mitchell on drums. The album will be called Three-O and will be out mid 2020. I'll also be touring with this trio for quite a bit of 2020. Also working on a GoGo album. I'm from Texas, but I love the music out of DC. It's infectious.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Keep the music pure! Don't do it for money. Don't not make money, but don't do it for the money. This industry is not for quitters. Do it because you love it. And know that the success will come, but the grind is sold separately!
For more information visit www.shaunmartinmusic.com