Born and raised on Chicago's south-side, Chris Rob was first introduced to music at age four by his mother, a renowned classical pianist. Today a respected singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, he's created an international following due to his musical genius, and captivating live performances.
In just a few years after relocating to New York, Chris Rob worked his way to musical director, keyboardist and back-up vocalist for the best in popular music. He recently served these roles for R&B vocalist John Legend on his Grammy Award-winning "Get Lifted Tour, and can be seen highlighted throughout the John Legend: Live at The House of Blues DVD, released in 2006.
Chris Rob has also worked closely in the studio with hip hop heavyweights Lauryn Hill and Kanye West, as well as producers Swiss Beatz, DJ Spinna, Devo Springsteen, Emile, and soul vocalist Leon Ware, the legendary co-writer for Marvin Gaye. His most recent efforts includes Legend's single "Stereo, The Polyrhythm Addict's "Ugly World, and DJ Spinna's remix of the late James Brown's forthcoming release Gutbucket.
His stage credits as a backing musician and opening act include: Stevie Wonder, Prince & the New Power Generation, Elton John, Snoop Dogg, John Mayer, Ashford & Simpson, Jill Scott, The Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Barry Manilow, Roberta Flack, Common, The Polyrhythm Addicts, and meshell ndegeocello. He's also appeared on the 2006 Grammy Awards, Oprah, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Ellen Degeneres Show.
Armed with a degree in Music Business from Roosevelt University, his unique sound, passion and aptitude for music continue to reflect his experience and training. "I want to make the biggest impact possible, says Rob. "I want to bring back the feel good energy of old school R&B & Hip Hop, and make music that brings people together.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I saw Purple Rain as a kid....that was too cool to me to see Prince do his thing.
Your sound and approach to music: It's a fusion of dance floor funk, doo wop soul, and hip hop, laced with true jazz and a little bit of rock
Your teaching approach: Teach them to listen to everything, to enjoy life and to bring their heart into the music, along with the technicalities and devotion to practicing.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?The Official Bootleg of Chris Rob, Vol. 1 (available on iTunes and cdbaby.com). Probably 'cause it's my only project of my own I've released so far!! But also because, all the songs are me finally getting a chance to get into my own world and bring people there to hang out, there's a lot going on in my head, and that album gave a dosage of that to introduce me to a lot of people.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I contribute a focused sense of diversity in every project I do. You get some hip hop, some jazz, some rock, some funk, some soul....but it's all organic, it's not just to show people that I can do it, it's because the spirits told me to do it!
CDs you are listening to now: Donald Blackmon, Donald Blackmon; Van Hunt, On The Jungle Floor (Capitol); John Coltrane, A Love Supreme Dead Prez, Revolutionary But Gangsta; J Dilla, The Shining.
Desert Island picks: Stevie Wonder, Innervisions (Motown); John Coltrane, A Love Supreme; Prince, Sign O The Times; Slum Village, Fantastic Volume One; Miles Davis, Nefertiti.
How would you describe the state of jazz today? Jazz is still present and attracting youth, but now it's taking on a new guise in the form of hip hop. Especially in New York...it is not uncommon to see musicians playing behind emcees, freestyling new grooves behind them, and extending instrumental interludes between rap verses. Many people may not see it that way since it is not as traditional, but jazz has always been about exploration and new energy, and the reality is that hip hop is playing a crucial role in keeping jazz alive and well.
What is in the near future?The Chase is my new project. It is a look into the mind of a single man, living his dream and searching for balance in love, passions, and peace of mind in this new buck-wild century. Based on a true story.....
I love jazz because it's sophisticated, international, atmospheric yet free, cool and warm.
I was first exposed to jazz through the sultry voice and flawless swing of my mother.
I met Mark Murphy, David Linx, Kurt Elling, and Youn Sun Nah.
The best show I ever attended was Youn Sun Nah in Paris.
The first jazz record I bought was Native Dancer by Wayne Shorter and Milton Nascimento
My advice to new listeners: open your mind and your ears, forget about structure, feel the textures.
Go see live music and keep buying CDs!