MINDI ABAIR - Profile
Saxophone - Vocalist - Songwriter
As a solo artist, Mindi Abair has carved out her own brand as the rocker of the jazz world, and she adds a refreshingly unique voice to an exciting new generation of crossover artists. She was raised on the road with her father’s band, but this is not your father’s jazz band. Mindi brings a fearless energy and abandon to the stage as a powerhouse on the saxophone, hearkening back to the days of Junior Walker or King Curtis.
Her solo career has produced 10 #1 radio singles and 6 major label solo releases that have topped the Contemporary Jazz Charts, “It Just Happens That Way” (2003), “Come As You Are” (2004), “Life Less Ordinary” (2006), “Stars” (2008), and “In Hi Fi Stereo” (2010), "Summer Horns" with Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot (2013)
Mindi has hosted the internationally syndicated radio show “Chill With Mindi Abair” for 8 years. She is the President of the Los Angeles Chapter of NARAS. She has won numerous awards, most recently the Best International Instrumentalist at the 2011 Wave Awards in Toronto, and Best Female Artist of the Year at the 2011 Oasis Contemporary Jazz Awards. She also appeared the 2012 season on the Fran Drescher show “Happily Divorced”.
Mindi authored the book “How To Play Madison Square Garden – A Guide To Stage Performance.”
The list of artists she has toured or recorded with are a testament to her talent. They include Aerosmith, Keb’ Mo’, Lalah Hathaway, Duran Duran, Lee Ritenour, the Backstreet Boys, Mandy Moore, Max Weinberg, Bill Champlin, David Pack, Mocean Worker, Adam Sandler, Rick Braun, Teena Marie, Bobby Lyle, Jonathan Butler, and Peter White.
Performances and releases
In 1991, after college, Abair moved to Los Angeles, California, where she began booking her band into clubs, coffee shops and hotels. She played solo on the street at 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California and garnered the attention of jazz keyboardist Bobby Lyle, who hired her to record on his Power of Touch CD and tour with him. Her touring opportunities expanded over the next decade, as she toured as a saxophonist/singer and keyboardist with Adam Sandler, John Tesh, Jonathan Butler, Teena Marie, Rick Braun as well. Abair was featured on saxophone in the Go West video "Tell Me". And in 1996, she appeared on Adam Sandler's HBO Special and recorded on his platinum CD What's Your Name? playing the saxophone solo on "The Lonesome Kicker" and singing on various tracks.
In 1999, Abair joined the Backstreet Boys for their Millennium World Tour, and spent the next year and a half as their saxophonist, keyboardist and percussionist. She assembled Mandy Moore's first band and acted as musical director, keyboardist, background singer and percussionist for many of Moore's first television appearances and shows.
When not touring, Abair released her first complete solo album, Always and Never the Same, an all vocal pop record, independently. Abair performed in local Los Angeles rock clubs to promote the record, in addition to her touring with the Backstreet Boys.
In 2003, Abair signed to Verve Records and released the album It Just Happens That Way, which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and remained in the Top 10 for 19 consecutive weeks. Billboard named the album one of the top 10 Contemporary Jazz CDs of the year. Her hit single "Lucy's" was No. 1 on R&R for a record-breaking eight weeks.
In 2004, Abair released "Come As You Are", which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts. She followed that with Life Less Ordinary in 2006, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and remained in the top 20 for 45 weeks. Her songs "True Blue" and "Bloom" hit No. 1 on R&R.
Abair signed to Concord Records in 2007 and released her genre breaking Stars in 2008 which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Her single "Stars" (co-written and produced by Matthew Hager) charted at No. 29 Adult Contemporary R&R simultaneously with her single "Smile" which reached No. 1 on the R&R jazz airplay charts. She released "Hi-Fi Stereo" in 2010 which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. The album spawned the No. 1 hit "Be Beautiful" written by David Ryan Harris.
In 2013, Abair collaborated with Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, and Gerald Albright on the album Summer Horns. It was nominated for a Grammy Award.
On May 27, 2014, Abair released "Wild Heart" on Concord Records imprint, Heads Up International. The record debuted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz chart and #152 on the Billboard Top 200. The record was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in the 2015 Grammy Awards.
Abair received the Mad Skills Award at the third annual She Rocks at NAMM Show (organized by NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants) on January 24, 2015. Held in Anaheim, California, the event was sponsored by the Women's International Music Network.
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