"The human voice is so powerful," says Cory Henry. "When I'm singing, it's like this extra way of connecting and communicating with people beyond what I can do just playing the organ. I'm able to convey these messages that are really important and meaningful to me through my words. Being front and center like this every night, it's a challenge, but I'm up for it."
On his debut album with The Funk Apostles, 'Chapter 1: The Art of Love,' organ virtuoso Cory Henry demonstrates that's he more than up more than up for the challenge, moving from sideman to frontman with seemingly effortless grace and cool. Praised by AllMusic as "one of the finest Hammond B-3 organ players of his generation," Henry also proves himself to be a remarkable singer and songwriter here, one of extraordinary depth and vision.
He and the band whip up an intoxicating blend of blues, soul, R&B, Afrobeat, gospel, and jazz on the record, blurring genres and upending expectations at every turn. Simultaneously futuristic and retro, experimental and classic, it's the sound of one of modern music's most inventive minds coming fully into his own as a bandleader and storyteller.
A Brooklyn native, Henry may be best known for his role in Snarky Puppy, the instrumental jazz-pop orchestra hailed by Rolling Stone as "one of the more versatile groups on the planet right now." He's won a pair of GRAMMY Awards for his work with the band since 2012, but Henry's deft keyboard skills have been blowing minds around the world for more than two decades now. At six, he made his debut at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater, and at nineteen, he joined the touring band of jazz icon Kenny Garrett. Since then, he's toured or recorded with everyone from Bruce Springsteen and The Roots to P. Diddy and Yolanda Adams in addition to cracking the Top 10 on Billboard's Jazz charts with a pair of solo albums. NPR called him "a master" and said his "musical charisma is a match for a nearly 400 pound organ," while Keyboard Magazine dubbed his playing "soulful, church-y, playful, restrained, and virtuosic," and The Boston Globe raved that "if anyone's going to preach the gospel of the Hammond organ, it should be Cory Henry."
The gospel, in fact, is where it all began for Henry. He grew up performing and singing in church (a recent documentary titled 'Gotcha Now' features incredible footage of him tearing up the organ there at the age of four), but he refrained from sharing his voice with the world outside those holy halls for many years.