While the major music labels struggle, the digital arena is giving independent artists ideal ways to connect directly with fans and leapfrog right over many hurdles previously placed by a formerly threatening and impenetrable industry. Soul rocker Sonnyboy is a singer, composer, producer and bandleader in one such indie success story-on-the-rise. With five independently produced albums to his name, his latest work, “The Barfly Theory”, is thirteen tracks full of “Rock N’ Soul mixed with some good old funk.”
“The digital arena actually helped my sell because it gave me yet another outlet,” explains Sonnyboy. And use it he did, as he has always made the most of opportunities that have come his way. Early on, it was his well-known Blues musician uncle, Sonny Green, who inspired him to explore the genre. Born in Monroe, Louisiana, and raised in the Baptist churches of Milwaukee, Sonnyboy learned to play multiple instruments at an early age, and he did so with a traditional gospel/R&B slant. From Milwaukee, he moved to Minneapolis. With only his guitar and the clothes on his back, Sonnyboy journeyed into what he had been told was forbidden devil music: funk, reggae, rock, and hip-hop. And he did so in the middle of the Prince-led Paisley Park music scene.
After a few months in downtown Minneapolis, Sonnyboy earned a reputation as an exceptional musician. He quickly became accepted into the Minneapolis music community and began working with artists on the Paisley Park label, the Parliament Funkadelic family, Mary Harris of Spearhead, and countless other artists. He has shared the stage with Prince, The Black Crowes, The Skatalights, and has performed at venues as prestigious as the world famous Paisley Park Studios.
But like many musicians before him, Sonnyboy was on a fast and at times dangerous track. Also known as a hip-hop hippie and an urban poet, he cheated death in a near fatal car crash and found himself back on the streets where he started. From there, he transformed his life. His rededication to music, his renewed energy, and his creative explosion resulted in writing songs, composing, producing music, and even co-producing his own music videos.
After starting his own record label, Art Form Entertainment (now known as ArtSoul Entertainment), the well-rounded artist and newly made entrepreneur soon gained a reputation of being a workaholic. He got focused, developed a unique sound, and formed the four-member band, Sonnyboy. Soon after, Rolling Stone Magazine cited the group as “…one of the best unsigned bands to come out of Minneapolis since Prince and The Time.” His live performances have been dubbed as “high energy Fishbone meets James Brown” shows. Sonnyboy manages to tour regularly both nationally and internationally. In fact, his 2011 European tour that kicks off at Midem, the largest international music conference in the world, in France later this month. His videos have also been featured on BET-J, VH-1, and TVOne.
Sonnyboy explains: “All I want to do is make good music. If I can get your head nodding and coming back for more, then I’ve done my job. It all boils down to one question: Is it good music?”
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