- Damani Rhodes is a multi-talented musician and songwriter. His fusion, Hip-Hop, gospel and Jazz mix is genius. The Damani Rhodes Trio consists of Brandon Kendricks, Bass, his drummer known only as Stixx and Damani on keyboards, and they are phenomenal at creating engaging, mood altering music.
Damani’s first love was the drums. Unlike most artist that start at a much earlier age, he started playing at the age of 12. Playing in church and listening to his favorite recordings while playing the drums inspired him to pay more attention to the music, and fell more in love with music and other instruments. He started playing the bass and keyboards at the age of 17 without any formal training. He shared his memory about asking his Dad to buy him a keyboard. His Dad bought him his first Casio keyboard. It was one of the Casio keyboards that has 6 tracks back then, so when he created songs he would have to start from the beginning for each track over and over again and that is how we actually learned how to play the piano. He would hear songs in his head and try to pick them out on the piano. He always heard songs that were beyond what he could play, that pushed him to be a better player.
After turning 18, Damani went to Sacramento City College and took theory and Jazz improv classes with Professor Reggie Graham . He never got that heavy into reading music, however his Jazz improv class helped him to develop his musical ear. Still, he had to learn sight reading and sight singing during his courses and learned how to read chord charts and learn the music language and the extensions of the music he was playing. His inspiration to play fusion Jazz stems from music being placed in certain genres. He has combined the Hip- Hop, Jazz, Gospel & Funk because it’s mixed with all the influences he was exposed to. “When you put music in a certain genre, it has to be a certain way and has to be a certain thing.”, said Damani. “If you don’t play that certain music, they will say, “well, that’s not gospel or that’s not classical,” just because it doesn’t sound like it.” “Jazz is freedom.” Damani continued. His love affair with Jazz began around the age of 16 or 17. You can hear in his music all of his influences, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Funk and Gospel. Damani has “FUSED” them together with uniqueness.
In my interview with Damani, you can feel his humbleness as he relates to himself and music. His humility, introspectiveness and insight was a pleasurable revelation. When it comes to music, he’s an “open vessel”, ready and willing. “I’m not the source of the music.” “I hear it in my head, like the music was created somewhere else and it’s saying, make me real here!
“You have to understand that the music is coming through you, not from you.”
Damani is married to gospel artist and songwriter Vadia Rhodes. A great artist in her own right and extremely supportive of her husband. UB Media had the opportunity to hear her sing at Graciano’s during our visit and she is phenomenal as well.
What’s new for The Damani Trio for 2016?
The Trio will start recording in December 2015. There’s a lot more on the horizon for this rising entertainer. More arrangements, more horns, a larger band and something a little different. With more than 100 pieces already written, I’m confident there will be a lot of listening satisfaction. His focus for 2016 will be to release 2 or more recordings and perform more shows at more venues here in Sacramento and the Bay area.
Adding to Damani’s credits, not only is he a musician and writer, he teaches as well. He composes play along tracks for drumming students all around the world online and has a vast array of students.
Tell UB Media something about yourself your fans would find surprising.
“Most people tell me I have “this” presence.”As if I’m very confident or sometimes arrogant and that’s not the case at all.” What they don’t know is that I have to struggle with myself to get out of the way. I have to be free to feel and hear and be that vessel to be used when I’m playing. Because in my mind when I’m playing, I’m thinking; is this good enough?”
I smile on the inside while chatting with Damani. He’s charming and engaging and most of all artistic.
It’s all Damani. It’s all there in the music.