First Look Friday: Learn The Art of Soul From Aaron Abernathy
Photos of Aaron Abernathy taken by Vickey Ford (SneakShot) for Okayplayer.
No one quite has a flow like this week’s First Look Friday subject, Aaron Abernathy. His dynamic range and bravado is a combination of soulful, gospeldelic change-ups and raw, uncut funk that pours out of his pores like a broken waterline. He has made quite an impression as a multi-talented musician, singer, songwriter and all-around entertainer. What else can you expect from one of Cleveland’s finest, anyways? The area breed champions and Aaron Abernathy is no less of an exception. With songs like “Bachelorette,” which you can hear underneath this,” and “Now A Days,” (a timely track if any) — Aaron Abernathy has been a exemplary student in the school of Prince and James Brown
In real life, this graduate of the prestigious Howard University has cultivated his craft through rigorous performing, creating and sacrificing. As both a pianist and a vocalist, Abernathy has blended the worlds of music and fighting against oppression to become an artist that respects the pay and paves the way for the future. His work has already been appreciated by the likes of Patti Labelle and Snarky Puppy, yet that hasn’t stopped Abernathy’s impact from reaching the other side of the globe and beyond. From playing The Rebellion Tour with Black Milk to co-headlining the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival with Chick Corea — Aaron Abernathy continues to build on his rep as a leading man in music causing rebellions of freedom wherever he performs.
In fact, his “Rebellion” tour has had the support of the Detroit producer who is also a close friend and confidante. Now, stepping out to showcase his deeply rich sound with us, Aaron Abernathy’s debut LP Monologue presents an accomplished, imaginative and focused singer-songwriter who is able to paint colorful compositions with rich, warm textures. If you haven’t been able to see this talent on tour, please check out upcoming dates and get your ticket as soon as you can. We’re really excited to introduce the OKP audience to this budding force, as Aaron Abernathy talks to us about his musical influences, how his songs help with the trauma we’ve experienced with this election + how studying the greats is the only way to become one yourself. Enjoy!
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in Cleveland + Washington, D.C. are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
Aaron Abernathy: It is truly a blessing to be making an impact with the gifts God has instilled in me. As far as Cleveland and D.C. are concerned, they’re both very soulful cities that I have had the opportunities to test drive my compositions and live performances in before sharing them with the world. With both cities being major hubs in the Golden Era of soul music and beyond, I find that they are very receptive to my interpretation of funk and R&B that I’ve crafted from studying the masters that came before me.
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?
AA: My most cherished influences are James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone, The Ohio Players, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliament/Funkadelic, Rufus, Chaka Khan and Prince. All of them possessed a sincere work ethic and sound that changed the face of music, in my opinion. What makes them great is their ability to be influenced by the greats before them as well as of their own time and still find their own voice and techniques that made them original.
OKP: Your song, “Bachelorette” featuring Black Milk and Phonte is extremely dope and has heightened anticipation for new work from you by music snobs who have a heavy presence in the industry. Can you talk about how life was for you while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?