Artists – 2015

George Benson

george benson

From instrumental innovator to vocal sensation, George Benson is one of the true icons in the world of music and one of the greatest guitar players of our time. Creating more than 30 recordings as a leader, winning 10 Grammy Awards as well as becoming a NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) Jazz Master, George Benson has used his jazz roots as the foundation for an engaging mix of pop, R&B and other shades that add up to a style that appeals to a broad mainstream audience. Along the way, he has also established himself as a formidable singer – one whose biggest career hits have showcased his vocals as well as his guitar chops. Benson continues to astound and engage audiences taking his creative expression to new heights.

Weekend of Jazz founder and host Earl Klugh credits Benson as a mentor, and the catalyst to launching his recording career. Benson and Klugh recorded Collaboration together (1987) and remain lifelong friends. “Having George perform at Weekend of Jazz is a huge highlight for me!” says Klugh. “I can’t wait to share this experience with the fans.”

Boney James

boney james

Four-time GRAMMY® nominee and multi-platinum selling sax-man Boney James continues his artistic evolution with the dynamic new #1 album Futuresoul. Fusing his love for vintage soul music with his mastery of modern production, Boney has created another genre-bending work following on the heels of his 2014 GRAMMY-nominated album The Beat. Over the following 23 years James has racked up sales of more than 3 million records, four RIAA gold albums, four GRAMMY nominations, a Soul Train Award, nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and 10 CD’s atop Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. In 2009 Billboard magazine named him the #3 Contemporary Jazz Artist Of The Decade (trailing just Kenny G and Norah Jones).

Jeffrey Osborne

jeffrey osborne

R&B balladeer Jeffrey Osborne has recorded five gold and platinum albums over his career, and has delighted audiences worldwide with his hits including “On the Wings of Love” “Stay With Me Tonight” and “Don’t You Get So Mad.” He started his music career with Love Men Ltd., which later became L.T.D. After his six solo albums released on A&M during the ’80s, he moved to Arista for Only Human (1990), then switched to a series of independent labels. His releases during the 2000s and 2010s include That’s for Sure (2000) and Music Is Life (2003), as well as the cover albums From the Soul (2005) and A Time for Love (2013), which features songs with Rick Braun, Chaka Khan, and the late great George Duke, who also produced and arranged the album. Osborne has also recorded an album of duets with popular singer James Ingram. Osborne annually hosts The Jeffrey Osborne Celebrity Classic, raising money for local charities in Rhode Island where the signer grew up.

Jake Shimabukuro

jake shimabukuro

It’s rare for a young musician to earn comparisons to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. It’s even harder to find an artist who has entirely redefined an instrument by his early thirties. But Jake Shimabukuro has already accomplished these feats, and more, in a little over a decade of playing and recording music…on the ukulele. He has topped the Billboard World Album Chart numerous times and mixes jazz, rock, classical, traditional Hawaiian music, and folk…utterly unique in the music world. Shimabukuro and Klugh recorded together on Earl’s latest release HandPicked. Jake has also collaborated with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Jimmy Buffett, Ziggy Marley and Lyle Lovett to name a few, and has been declared a musical “hero” by Rolling Stone, which also stated: “one of the hottest admen of the past few years doesn’t actually play guitar.”

Marcus Johnson

marcus johnson

Marcus Johnson is an independent Billboard-ranked musician, NAACP Image Award Nominee, Business and Educational Speaker and the CEO and Founder of FLO Brands, LLC™. Marcus Johnson has also received 15 critically acclaimed Contemporary Jazz Billboard ranked CDs. Marcus graduated from Howard University and earned his MBA and Juris Doctorate degrees from Georgetown University. Johnson’s success caught the attention of Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder and businessman, Robert L. Johnson. Marcus has returned to the music scene with Marcus Johnson “Live and Direct” featuring the Urban Jam Band.

Earl Klugh

earl kluge

Since GRAMMY®-winner Earl Klugh released his inaugural album in 1976, the Detroit-born master of the acoustic-classical guitar has become one of the most imitated icons of the instrument, issued dozens of records, 24 of which have been on Billboard’s top-10 list of jazz albums, and 6 that made it to the No. 1 slot. Klugh’s latest release, Handpicked, earned him his 13th career Grammy nomination. He has worked with a range of musicians, from collaborative projects with Bob James (Grammy-Award winning One On One, Two of a Kind, and Cool) and George Benson (Collaboration), to guest appearances with Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Loggins, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis and more.