The Recording Academy Texas Chapter recently played host for GRAMMYs On The Road at Utopiafest in the Texas Hill Country community of Utopia. GRAMMY.com conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including soul/R&B singer Charles Bradley, indie singer/songwriter Ben Kweller and GRAMMY-winning bassist Victor Wooten.
Bradley discussed creating a great song, his musical message and advice for aspiring artists, among other topics.
"All I'm here to do is let the people know who I am, and know that my heart and soul is for real," said Bradley. "I'm not on this planet to hurt anyone, all I want to do is show you the love [in] me."
Raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Bradley's passion for music was ignited after attending a James Brown concert in 1962. After working odd jobs on the East and West Coast for several years, Bradley relocated back to Brooklyn where he began performing Brown-inspired sets at local clubs, eventually garnering the attention of Daptone Records. Now commonly referred to as the Screaming Eagle Of Soul, Bradley released his debut album, No Time For Dreaming, in 2011. The album peaked in the Top 50 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart. Bradley is currently on tour throughout the United States, with select dates scheduled through December.
Kweller discussed how the Austin, Texas, music scene has shaped his music career, his musical influences and balancing his career and family life, among other topics.
"Austin is such a special place," said Kweller. "It's such a communal town, especially when it comes to the music scene. Everybody helps each other out and it's very friendly. Everybody's on the same team."
Kweller developed an early interest in music and began writing songs at age 8. Throughout his teenage years he performed and recorded with several bands, including Mirage, Green Eggs & Ham, Foxglove, and Radish. After relocating to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1999 Kweller launched his solo career. His solo full-length debut, Sha Sha, followed in 2002, which was followed by 2004's On My Way and a co-headlining tour with Death Cab For Cutie. His most recent album, Go Fly A Kite, was released in February and peaked at No. 18 on the Top Independent Albums chart.
Wooten discussed his music and nature camps, his new solo albums, 2012's Words & Tones and Sword & Stone, and his musical influences, among other topics.
"I'm the kind of person [who] will take opportunities when they come," said Wooten. "If you show up at my house and I hear that you sing, I'll ask you if you want to record. So there [are] a lot of people on both of these CDs that you've never heard of."
Wooten made his stage debut at age 5 as part of the Wootens, which featured Wooten and his four older brothers performing R&B songs by James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Sly & The Family Stone, and War. Wooten moved to Nashville in 1988 where he met Béla Fleck, who at the time was forming a jazz group. As a member of Béla Fleck And The Flecktones, Wooten garnered his first GRAMMY in 1996 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for "The Sinister Minister." That same year he released his solo debut album, A Show Of Hands. Wooten has since earned four additional GRAMMY Awards. In September, he released two albums, the instrumental Sword & Stone and Words & Tones. Aside from recording, Wooten also operates Vix Camps, a series of nature and music camps for children and adults.