Rob Lewis (musical director, arranger)

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Robert Lewis
Rob Lewis on the red carpet of the Grammy's.jpg
Background information
Also known as Rob Lewis or Young Q
Origin Chicago, Illinois, USA
Genres Pop, Gospel, R&B, Jazz, Soul, Hip Hop
Occupation(s) Musical director, Music arranger, Record producer, Music composer, Pianist
Years active 1995 – Present
Labels Details Music Management, Inc., Rob Lewis Enterprises
Associated acts Christina Aguilera
Babyface
Toni Braxton
New Kids On The Block
Brian McKnight
Backstreet Boys
Boyz II Men
Patti LaBelle
Diddy
Sasha Allen
Nick Lachey
Here II Praise

Robert Lyndel Lewis (born March 17, 1976 in Chicago Illinois) is a well-established American music arranger, music composer, record producer, musical director, film composer, musician, entrepreneur and philanthropist. In his almost 20 years in the music industry, Lewis has worked on several Grammy Award winning singles and albums, and his production, songs, and arrangements have been featured on #1 albums, gold and platinum albums, films, live productions, and television shows. His studio experience include works with some of the greatest names in the industry like Babyface, Rascal Flatts, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Christina Aguilera, Diddy, and many more. Currently, Lewis is an on-air personality and musical director for the morning show "Big Morning Buzz Live" with host Nick Lachey on VH1.

Early life[edit]

Rob Lewis was born on the south side of Chicago, the youngest of Anna Lewis, a school teacher, and Robert Samuel Lewis. Wanting a life better for her son, Anna enforced education early on. Lewis' mother put him in piano lessons at 5 years of age with acclaimed pianist Tom Stevens.[1] Until 9, Lewis began learning the techniques of reading music and of the piano, although he didn't favor classical music. Later in life, Lewis would acknowledge that his objection to classical music at that age was probably because "it had rules, with very little freedom to express anything different". Upon arriving to Mr. Stevens' home early one week, Lewis heard Mr. Stevens practicing a different style of piano, and when he went upstairs for his lesson, he asked Mr. Stevens to show him what he had been playing. This was Lewis' first discovery of jazz, and where Lewis found a love for the piano. So Lewis' mother extended his lesson time from one half hour to an hour: a half hour on classical, and half on jazz.

Lewis' mother was heavily involved in church. Lewis, his mother, and his sister, Samantha, began attending Christ Way Baptist Church under the strict guidance of Rev. Consuella York (who was the first African-American woman to be ordained a Baptist minister in Chicago, and was also the first female chaplain of the Cook County Jail.) Lewis played for all of the services during the week, guided by York's son and Minister of Music, Thomas Alvin Keel, and often played solos. Because Lewis' mother taught school on the north side of the city, she would drop Lewis off at the church early in the morning, and Lewis would stay there until it was time for school, everyday practicing on the church's Steinway and Sons grand piano. At age 10, Lewis then transferred to the Allen Studio Of Music, under the training of Mrs. Lorraine Allen and her son, Ernie Allen, Jr., who was a masterful Hammond organ player. Lewis learned how to play the Hammond organ, although his legs weren't quite long enough to reach the pedals, and by age 12, was teaching at the school. Lewis was looked at as a child prodigy, simply because of how he applied his classical techniques on the Hammond Organ, and because he was teaching choirs at such a young age.

For years, a young Lewis made money as a musician, whether playing for various churches, or for weddings and funerals. He attended the De La Salle Institute for high school, and was the first to get a scholarship for music to the school, because he played for all of the liturgical services at the school. Lewis was involved with the school band as a drummer, and won numerous awards for his talents and 1st place in jazz band competitions around the city. It was Lewis' high school band teacher, Larry Pawlowski, that told Lewis that he had the skills to pursue a career in music, and encouraged Lewis to leave Chicago and apply for Berklee College Of Music in Boston, Ma.. Lewis was voted "Most likely to become famous" by his peers in the Senior yearbook.

Musical career[edit]

Rob Lewis performing at the House of Blues in Boston, MA.

Rob Lewis left Chicago in Aug.1993, and went to be educated at the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston, with a dual major in Music Production and Engineering and Music Business. But after 2 years, because of the financial strain, Rob was forced to drop out of school. Lewis got his ‘big break’ in 1995 when Brian McKnight, whom Lewis met when he was at Berklee, decided to take him on the road for his tour. Lewis' first encounter with McKnight was when his teacher, jazz saxophonist Walter Beasley brought McKnight to Berklee for a clinic in 1993. Almost two years later, after impressing McKnight's musical director, guitarist Jeff Lockhart, a young Lewis was given the opportunity to go on tour with McKnight. Rob worked with McKnight as his keyboardist for years, and also under McKnight in the studio, and later as his musical director. Under McKnight, Lewis learned the art of writing, producing, and arranging. McKnight's influence on Lewis' music is strong, and Lewis acknowledges his time under Brian McKnight as the most influential in his musical journey, because of his admiration of McKnight's writing style, arranging, and vocal production on his own records.

Rob is best known for his musical direction. He remains the musical director for superstars Christina Aguilera, New Kids On The Block, Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, and has sustained a career being the musical director for pop superstars Toni Braxton, The Pussycat Dolls, Leona Lewis, and Jessica Simpson, as well as R&B stars Brian McKnight, Eric Benet, Deborah Cox, and Fantasia, and iconic artists like Patti LaBelle, and Babyface.[2] Lewis recognizes musical director Rickey Minor as a mentor who's referral and direct tutelage provided many opportunities for Lewis to grow as a musical director.

Lewis has produced, written songs, and arranged on several #1 albums including Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics,[3] Diddy's Press Play,[4] Fall Out Boy's Infinity on High,[5] Jamie Foxx's Unpredictable,[6] Herbie Hancock's "Possibilities", Heather Headley's Grammy Award winning "Audience of One", and Vanessa L. Williams' "The Real Thing". Lewis' emotional string and horn arranging has gotten him notoriety for his work on Fall Out Boy's single "Thnks fr th Mmrs.",[7] Christina Aguilera's "Oh Mother" [8] and "Understand", Jamie Foxx's "Heaven".,[9] Chrisette Michele's "Best of Me" and "Your Joy" (which Lewis also co-wrote with Babyface and Chrisette Michele).[10]

Lewis worked with superstar Toni Braxton on several tours, and was responsible for putting the music production together for Toni Braxton's "Revealed" Flamingo Hotel show in Las Vegas, which ran for two years.[11]

He is well known in the Gospel genre for his early writing and production with the group Here II Praise, who was signed by gospel legend Daryl Coley and Jenell Alexander Coley through a deal with Verity Records. With their harmonic and artistic capabilities, their album "Giving You Nothing But Praise" debuted on Billboard's Gospel charts in the Top 20 in Sept. 1998,[12] The choir, led by Lewis, won the "Bobby Jones Excellence Award" for "Best Urban Contemporary Choir of the year" at the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) in 1998, and was nominated for a Stellar Award in 1999.[13] Lewis is a self-taught string arranger, and Grammy Award winning gospel producer Donald Lawrence employed his arranging talents for several projects in the late 90's including Lawrence's Christmas album "Hello Christmas", and for Bishop TD Jakes "Sacred Love Songs",[14] A few years later, Lawrence introduced innovative singer and producer Tonex to Lewis to do arranging for Tonex's O2 album ("The Beautiful Place" and "Even You").[15] Along with arranging, he is also known for his scores and songs with film maker/playwright and NAACP Image Award winner David E. Talbert, who assigned him the moniker "Young Q", referring to Lewis as a "young Quincy Jones" (who Lewis always refers to as the "greatest musical role model" because of Jones' incredible wide range of abilities to arrange, compose, and produce music.) Lewis has written the scores for Talbert's theatrical plays "Love Makes Things Happen" featuring the music of Babyface, "The Fabric Of A Man", "He Say She Say, But What Does God Say", and Lewis wrote the original songs and score for "Love On Layaway" starring Deborah Cox and Cassie Davis. For Talbert's feature film "First Sunday", starring Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan, Lewis wrote and produced the song "Live Again" which played during the end credits.

Rob Lewis served as a LA Chapter Governor for The Recording Academy, where he worked hard with the Academy to create opportunities to educate up and coming music professionals, and to make a difference in the ailing music industry. As a part of The Recording Academy, Rob Lewis was a part of special events and panels and conducted workshops for Grammy Career Day,[16] Grammy Soundchecks,[17] and Grammy U.

Lewis and his company, Details Music Management, Inc., focuses on management of touring musicians and artists. DMM is the umbrella for his live and record production, and film composition. Lewis started his philanthropic venture "The Dreamers Movement" four years ago and annually runs a coat drive in New York City providing coats for boys and girls shelters with the help of his supporters and friends.

In 2012, Rob Lewis released his debut album "The Masterpiece", which features Lewis as an arranger, songwriter, singer, and musician. The album, solely produced by Lewis, took five years to finish, but has extensive arranging of string orchestras, horns, and live instruments. Lewis considers the album to be "his greatest work" because of the time spent on finishing it, but also because it is described as a "collage of influences and the result of his time with all of the celebrated musicians and artists that he has worked with". The album has 11 songs, and ranges from soul music, urban contemporary R&B, to jazz and inspirational.

Rob Lewis Co-hosting the American Music Awards Red Carpet Pre-Show

His work with Christina Aguilera[edit]

Lewis began touring with Christina Aguilera in 2002, following the release of her second album "Stripped". Lewis was Aguilera's co-musical director, under Rickey Minor, and traveled as her musical director during the co-headlining "Justified/Stripped Tour" with Justin Timberlake in 2003. In 2004, Lewis was contracted by Aguilera to arrange her Grammy performance of "Beautiful", which featured a 21-piece string orchestra, the Roger Wagner Chorale, and her band.[18] That night, "Beautiful" earned Aguilera the Grammy for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance". Lewis was very involved in Aguilera's 2006 Back to Basics album as a vocal arranger and producer, string arranger, horn arranger, and was a co-writer on "Without You" (co-written by Christina Aguilera, Kara DioGuardi, and Mark Ronson),[19] Lewis also traveled and collaborated with Aguilera as her musical director and arranger on her 2006-07 Back to Basics Tour and the tour DVD, "Back to Basics: Live and Down Under",[20] and has also served as her vocal producer on numerous occasions and on records including "Tell Me", the lead single from Diddy's 2006 "Press Play" album. Lewis' vocal production work with Aguilera helped to earn a Grammy nomination in 2006 for Herbie Hancock's album Possibilities (Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, for "A Song for You")[21] and Lewis was a vocal producer for Aguilera's hit "Ain't No Other Man", which won a 2007 Grammy Award for "Best Pop Performance".[22] Lewis' recent work with Aguilera includes vocal production and co-writing on her last album "Lotus" (Sing For Me), and he remains her pianist and musical director for her live performances, including the People's Choice Awards, the televised benefit for Hurricane Sandy, and the funeral of the late Etta James.

His work with Babyface[edit]

Lewis worked closely with Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, as a writer, string arranger, producer, and musical director, and started touring with Edmonds in 2005. Edmonds used Lewis' skills as an arranger on albums with Jamie Foxx ("Heaven"), Fall Out Boy ("Thnks Fr Th Mrms"), and made him an integral part of his covers album Playlist,[23] and is featured on Edmonds' "Grown and Sexy" DVD. While in Boston for a performance with Edmonds, Lewis took Edmonds to Berklee College of Music to talk with some students, and while there, surprised Edmonds with the creation of a new master songwriting class at Berklee College of Music titled "The Music of Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds", in homage to Babyface’s work in the music industry.[24][25] Together Lewis and Babyface have written and arranged songs including "Your Joy" with Chrisette Michele for her debut album "I Am", and "Loving You" for Vanessa L. Williams' 2009 album "The Real Thing".[26] Lewis considers Babyface to be one of the greatest influences in his career as a writer and producer, and considers his time under Edmonds as "the greatest school ever".

His work with Diddy[edit]

In 2006, Christina Aguilera brought Lewis into the studio to work with her to arrange and produce the vocals for music mogul Diddy's lead single "Tell Me". While working on the song, Diddy noticed Lewis' work ethic and style when producing vocals and had such a regard for Lewis' skills as a vocal producer and arranger, he told Lewis that he was going to put him "on TV". Shrugging the notion off Lewis didn't give it much thought, until he received a call from MTV stating that Diddy wanted him to be a part of the series "Making The Band". As a vocal coach and producer, Lewis was featured on MTV's "Making the Band", Season 3 with Diddy and pop girl group Danity Kane.[27][28] Diddy also enlisted Lewis to work on most of his album, where Lewis did vocal production for "Come to Me" working with Nicole Scherzinger, "Tell Me", working with Christina Aguilera, "Making It Hard" working with Mary J. Blige, string arranging for "Thought You Said" featuring Brandy, and co-wrote two songs with Diddy, "Crazy Thang" and "Claim My Place". In 2009, Rob Lewis was commissioned by Diddy once again to be on MTV's television series "Making His Band" where Lewis used his musical directing skills to assist Diddy in finding young, up and coming artists to create Diddy's new band for his forthcoming tour.[29][30]

His work with New Kids On The Block/Backstreet Boys/Boyz II Men/98 Degrees[edit]

In 2008, Lewis was enlisted as musical director for New Kids On The Block's highly anticipated reunion tour. Working closely with Donnie Wahlberg, Lewis has been musical director and arranged the music for the last five tours, and they continue to work together on future tours and television projects. Lewis was the musical director/arranger for the highly successful mashup 2011-2012 World Tour for New Kids On The Block and the Backstreet Boys (NKOTBSB), and also for the NKOTB's 2013 sold out arena tour with Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees. Lewis served as musical director and arranger for all three acts.

Philanthropy[edit]

In 2009, through an entity created by Rob Lewis, "The Dreamers Movement", fans were instrumental in helping to provide new pots and pans, clothing, and financial contributions to the Create Young Adult Boys Shelter in New York, and for Christmas, Lewis orchestrated a coat drive for the Turning Point Young Women Shelter in Brooklyn, NY. All residents at the shelter received brand new coats and accessories for Christmas from all over the world, through generous donations and support from the NKOTB fans, affectionately known as "Blockheads". 2012 marked the fourth consecutive year for The Dreamer's Movement's coat drive. Lewis continues an entrepreneur and philanthropist spearheading and branding "THE MOVEMENT ORCHESTRA", a unified assembly of musicians, arrangers, and composers. Lewis' current dream effort is working to build his own music education facility in New York, "MISOMA" (The Movement Institute, School of Musical Advancement), a facility where music education and the arts are brought to the inner city, and where young kids and young adults can learn and experience the arts without cost. Attached to the school is a clothing line "The MISOMA Collection"- an effort to further fund MISOMA and music education. "The Dreamers Movement",[31] is dedicated to providing awareness, care, and help to the less fortunate, using music and the patronage of his supporters to give hope and inspire the lives of homeless young adults. While on the road with various artists, Rob Lewis creates live jam sessions, in which he raises money and sponsors shelters and food banks in selected cities. He has also created "MISOMAdigital"-the YouTube school, and "MISOMAMobile", where he goes to high schools and colleges to lecture, encouraging youth to "continue dreaming, to stay focused, and to work hard to be successful- not only in music, but in life".

Awards[edit]

In September 2007, Lewis was awarded the "Distinguished Alumni Award" from Berklee College Of Music in recognition of his career accomplishments.

Discography[edit]

As Producer/Arranger:

As Songwriter:

  • Jaheim- "Appreciation Day" (Sexting) (2013
  • Rob Lewis- "The Masterpiece" (entire album) (2012)
  • Naughty By Nature- "Anthem Inc." ("Perfect Party", "Doozit")
  • Rob Lewis- "Brokenhearted" (single) (2009)
  • Vanessa Williams- "The Real Thing" ("Loving You", co-written with Babyface and Carole Bayer Sager) (2009)
  • Christina Aguilera- "Back to Basics" ("Without You", co-written with Christina Aguilera, Kara DioGuardi, and Mark Ronson) (2006)
  • Chrisette Michele- "I Am" ("Your Joy", co-written with Chrisette Michele and Babyface) (2007)
  • Diddy- "Press Play" ("Claim My Place" and "Crazy Thang", co-written with Sean "Diddy" Combs) (2006)
  • Here II Praise- "Giving You Nothing But Praise" (1998)

As Vocal Arranger/Vocal Producer:

  "Tell Me" featuring Christina Aguilera
  "Come To Me" featuring Nicole Scherzinger
  "Making It Hard" featuring Mary J. Blige

As performer:

Tours:

  • Brian McKnight (1995–2000): "Brian McKnight" Tour ('95-'96), "Anytime" Tour ('97-'98), "Back At One" World Tour (2000)
  • Babyface (2005–2008): "Grown and Sexy" World Tour, "Playlist" World Tour

DVD's:

As a TV personality/judge:

As composer/film composer:

End credits song: "Live Again" featuring Sasha Allen and Mike Davis Written and Produced by Rob Lewis

The score composed by Rob Lewis Soundtrack written and produced by Rob Lewis, including:

Theatrical work:

Featuring the music of Babyface, co-produced by Babyface and Tracey Edmonds Arranged and scored by Rob Lewis

Music score and original songs written and produced by Rob Lewis

Score written and arranged by Rob Lewis

Score written and arranged by Rob Lewis

References[edit]

  1. ^ (http://www.oldtownschool.org/classes/register/FolkDetail.php?folk=41060)
  2. ^ (http://top40-charts.com/news.php?nid=20646)
  3. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,3704937,00.html)
  4. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,3727300,00.html)
  5. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,3874762,00.html)
  6. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,3471786,00.html)
  7. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,4177370,00.html)
  8. ^ (http://www.allmusic.com/album/r1268420
  9. ^ (http://www.keysandbeats.com/forum/j/2980-jamie-foxx-unpredictable.html)
  10. ^ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_%28Chrisette_Michele_album%29)
  11. ^ (http://www.soulofamerica.com/las-vegas-soulful-show-reviews.phtml)
  12. ^ (http://www.billboard.com/#/album/here-ii-praise/giving-you-nothing-but-praise/320915)
  13. ^ (http://www.gospelflava.com/stellar/stellarresults-2000.html)
  14. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,308514,00.html)
  15. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,308514,00.html)
  16. ^ (http://www2.grammy.com/Recording_Academy/Chapters/Los_Angeles/News/Default.aspx?newsID=2837)
  17. ^ (http://www2.grammy.com/GRAMMY_Awards/News/Default.aspx?newsID=2905&newsCategoryID=11)
  18. ^ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3TIl2WNtAo)
  19. ^ (http://christina-aguilera.lyrics-songs.com/lyrics/736203/)
  20. ^ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6c3tJZFaYg)
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,3683354,00.html)
  23. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,4354445,00.html)
  24. ^ (http://www.berklee.edu/bt/193/alum_beat.html)
  25. ^ (www.berklee.edu/community/pulse/griot_v1_2008.pdf)
  26. ^ (http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,6006409,00.html)
  27. ^ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8XABKtEl14&feature=related)
  28. ^ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpgOvN9RXD8&feature=related)
  29. ^ (http://www.mtv.com/ontv/dyn/making_his_band/series.jhtml)
  30. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFBdhfST2gY
  31. ^ (http://www.dreamersmovement.com)
American arrangers American musical directors American music producers