THE 3RD ANNUAL SUNSET JAZZ FESTIVAL

The 3rd annual Sunset Jazz Festival–held in Atlanta, GA–did once again raise the bar. I’ve attended the jazz festival all three years, and I’m always enamored by the line-up and even more so by their performances. Tucked beautifully away and where all the magic happens is Chastain Park. It is by far one of the best outdoor venues I’ve seen. The list of performers this year included chart-topping, Grammy-award-winning artists. Jonathan Butler, who recently released “Living My Dream,” shared the stage with Norman Brown and Alex Bugnon also know as the Summer Love Tour. They were followed by the lady of the evening, Grammy winner Dianne Reeves. She too recently released a new album titled “Beautiful Life.” As the sun faded and night fell over the park, Brian Culbertson lit up the stage with an electrifying performance that had everyone on their feet. Culbertson’s latest album, “Another Long Night Out,” is quite indicative of how an evening at the Sunset Jazz Festival feels–a long night out and certainly a night to remember. Headlining for the evening was the man with a sax that everyone loves: Boney James. Boney delivered everything and more of what his fans love.

The producer of the Sunset Jazz Festival–amongst other titles–Kyle Newport has created an event that is not to be missed. Each year, he exceeds expectations and brings forth a show that is unlike any other. With so many choices for jazz lovers to choose from, no matter where you’re from, the Sunset Jazz Festival is one you don’t want to miss.

Sunset Jazzfest

Sunset Jazzfest

“LIVING MY DREAM” STORYTELLING BY JONATHAN BUTLER

With every season, there is change. For Jonathan Butler, that change was embraced, and a body of work was subsequently created. “Living My Dream” was born out of a time of transition for Butler while he held on to his faith in God to see him through trying times. At this appointed time in his life, he is well rounded and very seasoned. He is enjoying making life changes, new hobbies, and new passions. Jonathan wholeheartedly knows that this is divinely the right time and right season for him as a man, husband, father, grandfather, and artist. He says his inspiration for making “Living My Dream” is his daughter, Jodie. Jodie–an artist in her own right–collaborated with her father on the romantic and healthily risqué “Night To Remember.” Additionally, he also shares collaborations with Marcus Miller, Elan Trotman, Davy Nathan, and the late George Duke. This album is all about Butler’s identity and storytelling that crosses multiple genres of music and is easily identifiable. The first radio single and first song on the album, “African Breeze,” is one that was written many years ago, and he felt it was time to retrieve it out of the archives. When I spoke with Jonathan, like always, it was like talking to an old friend. He makes such an indelible impression and is always honest. He wants everyone to know that he is a real man with real issues and not just an artist to be admired. That is what “Living My Dream” expresses to the world. Sitting at #1 on iTunes and on Billboard, Butler says, “I’m a granddad who’s kicking butt, taking no prisoners, and “Living My Dream.” I love it!

Jonathan speaks from the heart and very candidly with me:

Jonathan Butler "Living My Dream"

Jonathan Butler “Living My Dream”

 

 

Jonathan Butler

 

 

 

 

Rising above the struggles, Jonathan Butler is living his dream‏

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Rising above the struggles, Butler is living his dream

Family, friends – including Marcus Miller and the late George Duke – and an “African Breeze” combine forces on “Living My Dream,” coming June 24 from the R&B-jazz artist.

Sherman Oaks, Calif. (30 April 2014): It took a while for Jonathan Butler to feel comfortable saying it, but the South African singer-songwriter-guitarist’s confidence has grown as he celebrates what he calls “the season of me” and finally admitting that he is living his dream. He tells the story of his life and loves in the eleven original songs that “came from the heart” on his forthcoming Artistry Music album, “Living My Dream,” which will be released June 24.

Like Butler’s best material from a diverse, award-winning and chart-topping career that’s spanned R&B, jazz, pop and gospel, “Living My Dream” provides an honest and revealing soulful songbook probing the artist’s passions: God, family and his homeland. He has been taking care of others ever since he was seven years-old when he became a child star and was the first black artist played on white radio stations while growing up under Apartheid. Writing and producing gold-selling albums and international hit singles, the two-time Grammy-nominee’s entire life has unfolded in the public eye. Enduring recent struggles forced him to do a lot of reflection and ponder the type of man he wanted to be. He decided that he was finally in a place where it was time to celebrate his own extraordinary life and accomplishments.

With a much needed push from his daughter, singer-songwriter Jodie Butler, and guitarist-songwriter Dennis Dodd Jr., he wrote music every day before heading into the House of Blues recording studio in Los Angeles to record the material in a live setting “like records used to be made.” Bassist-songwriter-producer Marcus Miller co-wrote “Let There Be Light” with Butler and played on that track as well as on “Be Still,” which Butler wrote with George Duke during a 5-hour visit to the late legend’s wine cellar. Saxophonist Elan Trotman also appears on “Let There Be Light.”

“It’s one of those albums that I really didn’t think I had in me. I had been struggling, going through this emotional period. Last year was a transitional period. Once I got my wind and got back to a place of focus, it turned out to be the best experience for me. I had to be vulnerable to the songs,” said Butler about the essence of “Living My Dream.” “It’s the story of my life and the newness of discovery. These really are the best years of my life.”

Butler wrote or co-wrote ten songs for “Living My Dream,” which is a balanced blend of contemporary jazz instrumentals and R&B vocal tunes. The first radio single, “African Breeze,” is a reboot of an instrumental that he wrote 30 years ago for “The Jewel of the Nile” motion picture soundtrack. It is a brisk, energetic African-hued dancer on which Butler plucks the festive melody on nylon string guitar.

A captivating and impassioned performer, Butler will help launch “Living My Dream” during a summer concert tour at which he will share the spotlight with Grammy-winning guitarist Norman Brown.

Butler takes you into the recording studio and talks about recording “Living My Dream” in his EPK, which can be viewed at http://youtu.be/UFFmGWfsKkk. For more information, please visit www.JonathanButler.com.

“Living My Dream” contains the following songs:

“African Breeze”

“Living My Dream”

“Be Still”

“Let There Be Light”

“Heart and Soul”

“Song For You”

“Catembe”

“Night To Remember”

“All About Love”

“Sweet Serenade”

“A Prayer”

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM JONATHAN BUTLER

For Jonathan Butler, Christmas is a very special time of the year. The holiday represents precious time spent with family and the birth of Jesus Christ, both priorities to Jonathan. Thus, the release of his first Christmas album: “Merry Christmas To You.” The title track, penned by Butler, is a beautiful ballad expressing affection for those we love. His instrumental rendition of “Sleigh Ride” encompasses his native South African vibe. Jonathan is joined on this project by fellow friends and musicians Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Dan Lutz, Paul “Shilts” Weimer, and his daughter, Jodie Butler. “Merry Christmas To You” and “Sleigh Ride” will be released this season in time for the holidays. His faith and the gift of music are what continually sustain him. As a youth, it was music that enabled him to break through barriers and achieve tremendous success. His desire to spare youth from the snares of drugs and poverty compelled him to launch the Jonathan Butler Foundation in South Africa. The foundation aims to impart music into the lives of children, consequently giving them the tools to change the outcomes of their future.

Jonathan tells me just what “Merry Christmas To You” means to him.

Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler

Soul of Summer a multicultural affair

U.S. concert tour featuring Jonathan Butler, Sheila E. and Elan Trotman launches May 25th in San Diego

Los Angeles, CA (14 May 2013): The spirit of spring is followed by the Soul of Summer, which this year will take on an international flair. The third edition of South African singer-songwriter-guitarist Jonathan Butler’s summer concert trek will feature multi-talented Latina Sheila E. and Barbadian saxophonist Elan Trotman. Backed by a 3-piece band and Butler’s daughter Jodie Butler on background vocals, the set list will showcase the artists’ hits along with a few cover tunes. The Soul of Summer 2013 will debut at the San Diego Jazz Festival on May 25th with dates booked across the U.S. into August.

“I’m excited to get on the road with Soul of Summer 2013. This year, we have the Latin flavor of Sheila E., the Caribbean flavor of Elan Trotman, and with my South African roots, it creates a great world music experience. Music can be a unifying force and unity is the spirit of Soul of Summer,” said Butler after the outfit’s first rehearsal at which they created the 14-song set list.

Butler’s Soul of Summer excursions are collaborative by nature. Each artist will have time during the show to perform individually, but the magic comes from the pairings when Butler, E. and Trotman will share the stage in various combinations to play their chart-toppers, fan favorites and Grammy-nominated singles, including Butler’s “Sara Sara” and “Lies” and E.’s “Glamorous Life.”

A two-time Grammy nominee, Butler became a child star while growing up under Apartheid and was the first black artist to be played on radio stations in South Africa. His 17-deep album catalogue is a study in diversity as Butler refuses to limit the scope of his musical vision that spans contemporary jazz instrumentals, soulful R&B, sophisticated pop and stirring gospel. Blessed with an impassioned voice that cries for justice, romantic pleas for love, and worshipful praise, Butler is dually noted for his nifty guitar-play on both nylon string and electric. Whether in a full band setting or stripped down to his roots as a spellbinding singer-songwriter, Butler pours his heart and soul into his live shows that uplift, enlighten and inspire. His latest recording, the gospel offering “Grace and Mercy,” was released last fall and continues to spread the word at radio. Butler will release a Christmas album this fall.

The daughter of Latin jazz patriarch Pete Escovedo, E. is a dynamic drummer, percussionist and vocalist who had her commercial breakthrough as a protégé of Prince with whom she still occasionally collaborates. Proudly braiding elements of her Hispanic heritage to funk, jazz, soul, fusion and gospel, she captivates with her high-energy performances and rhythmically-astute beats that have enabled her to play with some of the biggest names in popular music while collecting her own #1 Billboard hits and multiple Grammy and American Music Awards nominations along with an MTV Best Video Award win. The stunning beauty, a multimedia star that has graced the silver screen and small screen, released a concert DVD, “Sheila E. Summer Tour 2012 – LIVE in Lugano, Switzerland” last December.

Trotman is a feted newcomer winning fans and plaudits for the good-natured spirit of the Caribbean that he brings to R&B and contemporary jazz grooves. The saxman who attended the Berklee College of Music on a scholarship from the government of Barbados released his sixth album, “Tropicality,” earlier this year, which he wrote and produced with guitar star Peter White. The disc containing performances by an array of accomplished musicians is a celebration of island life that also chronicles Trotman’s journey from Barbados to Boston.

The Soul of Summer 2013 band is comprised of bassist and musical director Dan Lutz, drummer Jay Williams, and keyboardist Dennis Hamm.

The 2013 itinerary for Soul of Summer featuring Butler, E. and Trotman is:

May 25 Carlsbad, CA San Diego Jazz Festival

July 10 Detroit, MI Chene Park

July 17 New York, NY Spirit Cruise Ship

July 20 Norfolk, VA Norfolk Jazz Festival

July 27 Temecula, CA Thornton Winery

August 2 Austin, TX One World Theatre

August 3 Houston, TX Houston International Jazz Festival

August 10 Kettering, OH Festival of the Vine

August 11 Richmond, VA Richmond Jazz Festival

Additional dates will be added, which will be posted at http://www.jonathanbutler.com.