True music lovers always search for the connections between the new and the old, the fresh and the classic. Sometimes they’re fortunate enough to find both in one artist. For Chris Rob, the classically trained pianist featured on Kanye West’s ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothin’, crossing genres is natural. “All music is connected in some way, so if its from the heart, the audience can feel it, there really isn’t that much discrimination,” says Chris. This might explain why the singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer can’t be boxed in and audiences from New York to Russia have revealed in his genre fusion. His twist of hip hop, house, and cool funk can be witnessed firsthand on the recently released “Everything’s Beautiful”, the Robert Glasper executive produced Miles Davis remix album. The final track, “Right On Brotha” featuring Stevie Wonder, was co written and produced by Chris with the industry heavyweight DJ Spinna. “Working with Stevie has been a tremendous blessing for me,” says Chris. He also has served as an opening act for the legendary singer, as well as serving as his musical director for President Obama’s inauguration.
Chris Rob is currently promoting his latest project “Sound Of Da Struggle”, and selections from the album have already been well received from audiences throughout the US as well as Europe, where Chris most recently wrapped up the “New Stars of America” Tour that even made stops throughout Russia. His last project “Mental Notes” was named among the top soul albums of 2010 by Soultracks, with selections from the album were featured in the Tyler Perry film Peeples” as well as the award winning Showtime documentary “Phunny Business”. He also tours and directs music for his older brother, actor/comedian Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine, Morris From America) and has been seen alongside him on NBC sitcoms “The Office” and “Mr. Robinson”, as well as in “Hyped For Halftime”, a series of commercials promoting last year’s Superbowl Halftime Show.
The native Chicagoan has come a long way since relocating to New York, where he was inspired to produce his soulful debut project “The Official Bootleg of Chris Rob, Volume I”. He quickly began headlining at the city’s hottest spots including SOB’s, The Blue Note, and most recently, Brooklyn Bowl and the legendary Apollo Theatre. That funky, soulful, and jazzy nine song EP featuring his singing and musical talents, opened the eyes and ears of many, including Grammy award winning artist Meshell N’degeocello. “She called me up and said it was all she listened to for a month. That was so amazing because I had listened to her albums with that intensity before I ever met her.” Meshell shared a mutual admiration for him, stating
“his music is a reflection of who he is, a beautiful person.”
Still, Chris’ first love is playing live and connecting with the audience. You’ve probably seen him hyping up the audience in the video for ‘So High’ from John Legend’s “Live at The House of Blues” DVD. Legend’s grammy award winning “Get Lifted” tour featured Chris as primary keyboardist and backup vocalist, as well as serving as part of the musical direction team. “The ‘Get Lifted’ Tour was that first next level experience for me… just to help create something that was moving people so much all across the world, it tuned my own music deeper into the universe that much more.”
His additional stage credits as opening act and supporting musician include Prince & the New Power Generation, Elton John, Snoop Dogg, John Mayer, Ashford & Simpson, Jill Scott, The Roots, The Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Barry Manilow, Roberta Flack, Common, Cee-lo, Anthony Hamilton, Patti Austin, and Earth, Wind, & Fire. His television appearances include The Grammy Awards, “Oprah”, “Last Comic Standing”, VH1 Hip Hop Honors, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, “The American Comedy Awards”, “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, “The Ellen Degeneres Show”, “The Late Show with James Corden”, “Jimmy Kimmel”, The Soul Train Awards, “Entertainment Tonight”, “Raaymond is Laat” (Amsterdam), “Top of the Pops” (Amsterdam, London), and Jules Holland(London).
Like music itself, this artist likes to stay in the moment. “I don’t really think about the different genres I’m crossing. I try to stay open, and not get in the way of how great the music can feel.”