About Boney James
Boney James Solid
A Reflection on Relationships – And A Respite From A Stress-Filled World
Sometimes, inspiration is slow in coming, evasive and stubborn. Other times, if an artist is very fortunate, it simply flows, the music practically writing itself. That’s how Solid (released on Concord Records, June 12, 2020) the latest release from four-time GRAMMY® nominee Boney James came to be. The saxophonist/composer’s seventeenth album as a leader and the follow-up to his smash 2017 release Honestly—his eleventh #1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Album—the new collection seemed to fall right into place.
“This record really flowed at an unusually quick pace,” Boney explains. “There was a lot of positive energy in making this music. Solid feels like a very upbeat record. As I was writing them, these songs put a smile on my face.”
All of Solid’s eleven tracks were produced and written or co-written by Boney. Three songs—
“Full Effect,” “Tonic” and the title track—were built from licks played at sound-check by James’ guitarist Kendall Gilder while they were on tour in support of Honestly. “I said, hey, what’s that riff you’re playing?” James recalls, “And Kendall said, ‘that’s just something I’m messing around with.’ I got my iPhone and recorded them, then took it home and wrote the songs!”
Four other songs were initiated by longtime James collaborator, acclaimed writer/producer Jairus Mozee (Anderson Paak, Nicki Minaj, Anthony Hamilton). One of those, “Be Here,” was ultimately transformed into Solid’s Adult Urban single featuring special guest Kenny Lattimore, best known for his Top 10 R&B hit “For You.”
Says James, “We met at the Soul Train Awards twenty years ago and he told me, ‘Some day we need to work together.’ As I was working on the song, ‘Be Here’, I started to hear his voice in my head. I reached out to him and he wrote and recorded the lyrics. It’s such a romantic song and it really plays into the theme of the record, which is positive relationships.”
The title track, “Solid,” also explores that theme. “Similar to Honestly, this music is a reaction to how stressful the world feels these days. Music is a respite, and this new music was really connecting on that level.” Solid, James says, “is one of those cool words that means a number of different things. There’s the physical solid, like a rock (or a saxophone.) A groove can feel really solid and locked in. And relationships can be solid—someone that stays by your side and never folds no matter what, someone who’s got your back 100 percent. That’s my relationship with music too.”
Boney James’ personal relationship with music has never been anything but solid. Picking up the sax at age 10 in his native New Rochelle, New York, “I immediately loved it, and it pretty quickly became my favorite hobby.”
By the time he entered his teens, James was already gigging with bands, and he turned pro at 19. He apprenticed as a sideman for artists like Morris Day and the Isley Brothers, touring and doing sessions for seven years before cutting his first solo album in 1992. The independently released Trust led immediately to a major label deal and a string of increasingly successful recordings andnonstop touring.
Now a four-time GRAMMY® nominee with four RIAA Gold records and career sales topping three million units, James continues to defy genres; A two time NAACP Award nominee, a Soul Train Award winner and named one of the Top 3 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Artists of the Decade.
James says he’s looking forward to heading out on the road and seeing how the Solid material evolves from night to night. “I love playing live, maybe more than I ever did,” he adds. “That has not gotten old at all. A lot of guys get tired of the traveling but it’s still a joy for me every time I go out there and play.”
It’s still a joy to his multitude of fans too. “I try to be there for the people who are interested in listening to my music,” says James, “to be solid in that relationship and to never let anybody down. I often get great compliments from the people that come to my shows, that I ‘never disappoint’ them, and that’s very gratifying to me. That’s what I was trying to express with this title, that sense of character. To stand for something principled.”
Avery*Sunshine takes no detours in creating melodious music for the masses. She makes the kind of music that undeniably satisfies the soul. Her sound is uplifting, vibrant, and exactly as her namesake suggests, full of sunshine. She brings people together through her riveting stage performances, candid and often humorous stage banter, and optimistic anthems about love and life. Born Denise White in Chester, Pennsylvania, her roots are firmly grounded in the church. Avery, along with her Grammy award winning, creative life partner, Dana “BigDane” Johnson; the singer, pianist and composer has created a remarkable and unforgettable sound.
The Atlanta based singer’s no holds barred signature soulful R&B appeal has garnered praise from the iconic musical figure, The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who raved, “I love Avery*Sunshine!” She has also received praiseworthy acclimation from luminaries such as Patti LaBelle, Berry Gordy and Boy George, who proclaimed on Twitter “@averysunshine love this woman’s voice.”
Most known for the #1 Billboard chart hit single “Call My Name” from her critically heralded sophomore project: The Sunroom, Avery and Dana were awarded ASCAP’s Rhythm and Soul Song of the Year Award. Amongst Avery’s award acknowledgements are nominations for both the Soul Train Award and BET Centric Award. From numerous sold-out shows and career milestones that include a UK tour opening for the late B.B. King, a performance on The Jools Holland Show and four Hot Adult R&B top 20 Billboard hits, as an endorsed artist with the Yamaha Entertainment family, she was invited multiple times to perform for and by the late Ms. Aretha Franklin.
Our current times have not escaped Avery’s heart or soul. During the spring and summer of 2020, Avery, Dana and their youngest son performed several free “LIVE FROM THE CRIB” shows for several hundred thousand people helping to uplift spirits during the pandemic. Additionally, as part of Avery’s recognition of much of 2020’s global concerns, she debuted the single “How Will You Remember Me” in June giving respect to those who fell victim to the pandemic and also to honor their loved ones as simultaneously the country was dealing with racial and social injustice. Avery continues to set herself apart as not just an artist, but a person who is filled with compassion and one who is aware of her own human frailty.
Avery’s determination to keep shining bright led her to successfully create and launch her own makeup line LOU*MACK BEAUTY in late 2020. She and her husband also developed the “HEY SUNSHINE SHOW”, her own performance platform producing monthly live shows to share with her fans from the comfort of her own home.
Whether Avery is onstage in Asia, Africa, Australia, the UK or even on the virtual stage from her living room sofa with a tiny keyboard and her family, she is always striving to fill the space that she was created to fill. She prays that the small space that she occupies in this world reminds everyone to shine as brightly as they can – no matter what.