A Slow Hand, A Blues Man, A Rich Man, Mentors and Me

Words cannot explain the level of euphoria I felt the other night, when I heard the first live note of my favorite artist ever, Doyle Bramhall II. For the past 20 years, I have been waiting and cheering for Doyle to reemerge, refocus, and deliver a supersonic solo album that would launch a power packed tour of just him. And boy oh boy did he deliver!

Music is my salvation, and I have been lucky enough to work with one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time, Patti Austin. Together, we founded a musical mentoring foundation called the Over My Shoulder Foundation. This experience has taken me on many tours, back stage at great concerts, and into the studios of incredibly talented artists. The other night it took me to a sleepy little town in New Hampshire, inside the Tupelo Music Hall. Here is where I listened to Doyle’s entire show. This same week, three of my songs appeared on my very first album with Jon Butcher, but nothing compared to seeing Doyle play live, celebrating “Rich Man.” His new album was more exciting to me than celebrating my own!

I am not only a die-hard fan of his soulful singing, spiritual soul-searching writing and mesmerizing playing, but also of Doyle’s fascinating journey! His experiences, his struggles, and his roller-coaster career are all things I can relate to. But, he is also part of one of the greatest mentoring stories on the planet.

I love nothing more than “legends” who share their time, wisdom, and expertise: who they are, what they did to make the world a little better, and how they reached over their shoulder to lend a hand. There are the stories that the Over My Shoulder Foundation is dedicated to spread, share, strengthen, and support. I am especially excited when a music collaboration story comes across my desk, because so often music is my greatest mentor.

Collaborative musical efforts often demonstrate a cross-generational aspect of mentoring, as each generation learns from the one before it. Musician and Grammy Award winner Eric Clapton brought this to life when he brought Doyle Bramhall II and blues legend B.B. King together. Now’s the time to tell his story, with his new album and tour to celebrate.

What caught my ‘Musical-Mentoring’ ear? It was an article by Andy Langer in the Austin Chronicle. “Along with D’Angelo, I think you’re the best contemporary artist I’ve heard in a decade,” Eric Clapton told Doyle. “I was wondering if you’d like to get together and maybe play a little guitar with me?” Actually, Clapton was calling for a guitar lesson. One of the greatest guitarists ever, was calling the next generation of talented artists for mentoring. D’Angelo’s Spanish Harlem, is one of my other personal favorites and I have that in common with the great Eric Clapton. Recently, the same newspaper ran another story that started with, “For Doyle Bramhall II’s first solo LP in 15 years, Eric Clapton’s top lieutenant may have put out the blues album of 2016.”

Did the mentee just become the mentor? Which, by the way, is so often the case!

Together, Clapton, B.B. King, and Doyle wrote, recorded, and traveled the world. Often Clapton would give Doyle the spotlight. A true goldmine mentoring story, in which Clapton reached into the next generation for inspiration and education. The three talented artists mentored one another, each having wisdom and experience from a different generation.

If you are a fan of Doyle’s, you may know, like many of us, that he’s had his share of struggles. Many of us cheered him on to overcome his battle against addiction, to keep writing, and never give up.

I could not wait to see what the positive influence of Eric Clapton might have in Doyle’s life and career. Clapton didn’t just bring Doyle on tour with him and further develop his musical talents, he helped Doyle with a unique understanding about substance abuse, knowing first-hand about this subject matter. Mentoring in the world of recovery is another area that most people don’t often think about.

For years, I have watched and waited and now Doyle’s new album, “Rich Man,” is the reward. The album packs a tremendous positive punch and showcases Doyle’s new life with herculean ambition and crystal clear vision. Many songs discuss divorcing a misguided past and embracing the future. Many songs have themes of faith, growth, and empathy which we all need right now. Rich Man is an album that proves to be a unique learning experience and speaks to mentoring in so many ways. For me personally, it is the greatest gift to come my way in a long time.

When we started the Over My Shoulder Foundation, I was searching for heartwarming stories that inspired me and promoted the intersection between creative arts and mentoring. Doyle’s entire story speaks to recovery and mentoring in a unique way that organically connects with the foundation.

The Over My Shoulder Foundation was inspired by a song that I co-wrote called “Over My Shoulder,” which is performed by Grammy award winner Patti Austin and her mentee, Lianna Gutierrez. The song is about the kind of caring mentorship that bridges generations. We call this “Mentorology,” the art and science of mentoring.

Our foundation is dedicated to helping anyone achieve their goals and become leaders in their communities. We believe without inspiration, education, or support there is no evolving. Without emotional sustenance and a positive influence in our lives, we become lost, disconnected, and unstable- as individuals and as a society. Stories like Doyle’s showcase the true positive power of mentoring, and inspires others, like me.

For a true musical and soulful treat check out Doyle’s impressive album here: http://db2music.com/audio/playlists/4863/rich-man

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