Singer/songwriter and guitarist Orianthi recently participated in an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's Great Guitars series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, Orianthi discussed touring as a member of Alice Cooper's band, meeting Carlos Santana as a teenager and collaborating with producer Dave Stewart on her new album, Heaven In This Hell. Orianthi also performed a brief set, including "Sex E Bizarre" and "How Do You Sleep?" the latter of which also featured Stewart.
"I listened to a lot of blues [and rock] growing up," said Orianthi. "That's the kind of music I want to be playing for years to come."
Born in Adelaide, Australia, Orianthi became enchanted with guitar at age 6. Listening to artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Santana and Eric Clapton inspired her to take lessons and through her teen years she soaked up the sounds of hard rock artists such as Def Leppard, Van Halen and Whitesnake. At age 18, Orianthi scored the opportunity to jam with Santana backstage prior to one of his concerts. The GRAMMY-winning guitarist was so impressed by Orianthi that he invited her to join him onstage as a special guest.
In 2007 Orianthi secured a deal with Geffen and subsequently released her debut set, Violet Journey, an album showcasing not only her fiery fretwork but her vocal talents. Orianthi scored a career breakthrough in playing guitar during GRAMMY winner Carrie Underwood's performance at the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2009. Later that year, she landed a gig as the guitarist for Michael Jackson, who was in the process of assembling a band for a residency at London's O2 arena before his unexpected death in June 2009. Orianthi sang at Jackson's memorial service, and rehearsal footage of the guitarist backing the King of Pop was featured in the film Michael Jackson's This Is It. Orianthi's sophomore album, 2009's Believe, peaked at No. 19 on Billboard's Rock Albums chart, featuring the Top 20 single "According To You" and "Highly Strung," an instrumental duet with GRAMMY winner Steve Vai. In 2011 Orianthi signed on as a touring guitarist for legendary shock-rock artist Alice Cooper.
Released in February via Robo Records, Heaven In This Hell features 11 tracks, including eight songs co-written by producer Stewart. From the soulful ballad "How Do You Sleep?" to the raucous title track and the R&B-infused "How Does That Feel?" the album showcases Orianthi's blues guitar influences and overall growth as a musician.
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Reel To Reel: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (June 4) and Spotlight: Josh Ritter (June 13).