Lawson Rollins

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Lawson Rollins
BornNorth Carolina, U.S.
GenresLatin jazz, world, new-age
Associated actsYoung & Rollins

Lawson Rollins is an American guitarist and composer from North Carolina[1] noted for his virtuoso fingerstyle technique and melodic compositional skills.[2][3] Guitar Player magazine ranked him as one of the "50 Transcendent Acoustic Guitarists" of all time.[4] His music is generally classed as Latin jazz and world music, with elements of samba, bossa nova, Middle Eastern, classical guitar, flamenco, and shred guitar. He often employs fast minor scales and diminished scale solo runs to his compositions which are executed in the flamenco picado style.

Music career[edit]

He is best known for his compositions World of Wonder, The Fire Cadenza, Santa Ana Wind, Flight, Daybreak, Infinita, and Moonlight Samba and his albums Airwaves: The Greatest Hits, Infinite Chill (the remix sessions), 3 Minutes To Midnight, Traveler, Infinita, Espirito, Elevation and Full Circle which were all critically acclaimed by the jazz and guitar communities.[5][6][7][8] He has reached a wide audience on both radio and the internet. Video performances of Locomotion, The Fire Cadenza and Santa Ana Wind have been viewed millions of times on YouTube.[9] His songs "World of Wonder", "Island Time", "Flight", "Daybreak", "Moonlight Samba," and "Infinita" have proven popular on jazz radio stations and landed on the Billboard Top 30 contemporary jazz radio chart.[10][11][12][13] His album Full Circle landed on the Billboard Top 10 World Music album sales chart[14] and he was a Top 100 Artist of the Year on radio as ranked by RadioWave. The song "Shifting Seasons" from Full Circle won the U.S. Songwriting Competition first place award for instrumental song of the year. Lawson was also awarded third place for Artist of the Year. In a separate year he received another first place award in the USA Songwriting Competition for the title track of his Traveler album. The Traveler album also won three Gold Medals in the Global Music Awards for Instrumentalist, Album, and Top 10 Albums of the Year.[3][15]

Influenced by Andrés Segovia from his mid-teens, he developed an interest in jazz, flamenco, and improvisational Latin and Brazilian guitar styles in his early twenties.[16][17] After graduating from Duke University he earned a graduate degree from the London School of Economics, then moved to Washington, D.C. in 1998 where he met guitarist Daniel Young (Dan Young) at a local flamenco shop and formed the Latin guitar fusion group Young & Rollins. They released several albums together, including Salsa Flamenca, which landed on the Billboard Chart in 2000, Sevilla (2001), Esperanza (2005) and Mosaic (2006) and played at venues such as the Kennedy Center and Sydney Opera House. Rollins was based in Washington until 2007 when he moved to San Francisco.[18]

His solo albums are characterized by an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, Brazilian, and Arabic music fused with Spanish guitar and backed by an all-star cast of musicians from around the world including Israeli singer and composer Idan Raichel, Brazilian singer Flora Purim, percussionist Airto Moreira, Cuban drummer Horacio Hernandez, Shahin Shahida of Shahin and Sepehr, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor, Grammy-winning violinists Mads Tolling and Charlie Bisharat, and electric guitarist Buckethead, among others.[1][19][20]

Lawson is a voting member of NARAS, a member of A2IM, and owner of the independent world music record label Infinita Records.[21][22]




  • Infinita (Infinita Records, 2008)
  • Espirito (Infinita Records, 2010)
  • Elevation (Infinita Records, 2011)
  • Full Circle (Infinita Records, 2013)
  • Infinite Chill: The Remix Sessions (Infinita Records, 2015)
  • Traveler (Infinita Records, 2015)
  • 3 Minutes to Midnight (Infinita Records, 2017)
  • Airwaves: The Greatest Hits (Infinita Records, 2018)
  • Dark Matter: Music For Film (Infinita Records, 2019)

As part of Young & Rollins

  • Salsa Flamenca (2000)
  • Sevilla (2001)
  • Esperanza (2005)
  • Mosaic (2006)




  • Locomotion (Infinita Records, 2012)
  • Santa Ana Wind (Infinita Records, 2009)
  • The Fire Cadenza (Infinita Records, 2009)

Compilation appearances[edit]


  • Guitar Greats: The Best of New Flamenco - Volume I (2000) (Baja/TSR)
  • Gypsy Spice: Best of New Flamenco (2009) (Baja/TSR)
  • Guitar Greats: The Best of New Flamenco - Volume III (2013) (Baja/TSR)

As part of Young & Rollins

  • Tabu: Mondo Flamenco (2001) (Narada)
  • Musica del Sol (2001) (Williams-Sonoma/EMI-Capitol)
  • Guitar Greats: The Best of New Flamenco - Volume II (2002) (Baja/TSR)
  • Caravan: Passion and Magic (2005) (Sugo)
  • Bolero Gypsies: New Flamenco - Volume I (2005) (Bolero)
  • Bolero Gypsies: New Flamenco - Volume II (2006) (Bolero)


  • USA Songwriting Competition - 2015, 1st Place Instrumental
  • Global Music Awards - 2015, three Gold Medals: Instrumentalist, Album & Top 10 Albums of the Year
  • USA Songwriting Competition - 2014, 1st Place Instrumental; 3rd Overall Best Artist
  • International Songwriting Competition - 2015, Finalist Instrumental

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Espirito: An Extraordinary World Music Journey with Lawson Rollins". Wandering Educators. February 22, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
  2. ^ "Lawson Rollins". All Music Guide. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "LawsonRollinsBio". Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  4. ^ "GuitarPlayerMagazine". Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  5. ^ "Guitar Player Magazine article" (PDF). Guitar Player Magazine. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 2, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "Infinita". Jazz Review. Retrieved November 12, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Lawson Rollins" (PDF). All About Jazz. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
  8. ^ "Review of Espirito" (PDF). All About Jazz. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 14, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  10. ^ "Jazz Radio Chart Songs". Nielsen Company. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  11. ^ "Moonlight Samba". Nielsen Company. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ "Infinita" (PDF). Nielsen Company. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  13. ^ "Flight". Nielsen Company. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  14. ^ "BillboardChart" (PDF). Nielsen Company. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  15. ^ "RadioWaveChart" (PDF). RadioWave. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  16. ^ "Jazz times, Volume 36, Issues 6-10". I. Sabin. 2006. p. 48. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  17. ^ "Biography". Lawson Rollins. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  18. ^ "Biography". Lawson Rollins. Retrieved November 12, 2010.
  19. ^ "AMG review". All Music Guide. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  20. ^ "Biography". Lawson Rollins. Retrieved Aug 4, 2011.
  21. ^ "NARAS member". Lawson Rollins. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  22. ^ "Infinita Records". Infinita Records. Retrieved November 14, 2012.

External links[edit]