League at the Heineken Jazzaldia
|Born||April 24, 1984|
Long Beach, California, US
Michael League is an American composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. He is the bandleader of New York-based instrumental band Snarky Puppy, and the international music ensemble, Bokanté. He is also an owner and founder of the record label GroundUP Music. League has won three Grammy Awards.
League was born in California on April 24, 1984. He had an attraction to music from an early age, and began playing guitar at 13 years old. He started playing bass at age 17, when he was requested to do so in his senior high school jazz band. He went on to study jazz at the University of North Texas, then spent three years playing in Dallas's Gospel and R&B scene under the unofficial mentorship of keyboardist Bernard Wright. There he performed with gospel artists like Walter Hawkins, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Myron Butler & Levi, and Israel Houghton, and frequently performed at the Potter's House. He was also a regular member of Erykah Badu's backing band, the Gritz. League moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2009.
League formed Snarky Puppy in his freshman year of college at the University of North Texas, originally consisting of him and nine of his peers. He composed most of their original music, as well as produced all albums released by the band.
He has performed or recorded with artists from a variety of genres including Laura Mvula, Lalah Hathaway, Joe Walsh, Chris Thile, Michael McDonald, Terence Blanchard, Esperanza Spalding, Joshua Redman, Wayne Krantz, Chris Potter, Salif Keita, Eliades Ochoa, Fatoumata Diawara, Bassekou Kouyate, Susana Baca, and Kardeş Türküler. He currently serves as musical director for David Crosby in his Lighthouse touring band, alongside Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis.
In 2014, League won his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance with Snarky Puppy and Lalah Hathaway for a live performance of the Brenda Russell and David Foster song "Something" on the Family Dinner - Volume 1 album.
In 2016, Sylva, the collaborative album between Snarky Puppy and the Metropole Orkest and conducted by Jules Buckley, won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, as did the band's follow-up album, Culcha Vulcha in 2017.
League formed the world/blues ensemble Bokanté in 2016, and has produced two albums for the band: Strange Circles, and What Heat. Strange Circles was released on GroundUP Music and What Heat, also a collaboration with Jules Buckley and the Metropole Orkest, was released on September 28, 2018, on Real World Records.
One number on David Crosby's League-produced Lighthouse album featured Crosby, League, Becca Stevens, and Michelle Willis (with Bill Laurence on piano). The quartet became the Lighthouse Band band on Crosby's 2018 Here If You Listen album. The band then toured for six weeks in November and December 2018 .
League has produced albums for a wide range of artists, including two titles from David Crosby (Lighthouse and Here If You Listen), all thirteen Snarky Puppy albums, and for GroundUP Music artists Becca Stevens, Banda Magda, Sirintip, Alina Engibaryan, Roosevelt Collier, Forq, Lucy Woodward, and Bill Laurance, among others.
GroundUP Music Festival
In 2017, League, with GroundUP Music CEO Paul Lehr, created the annual GroundUP Music Festival, also known as GUMFest, which was held within the grounds of the Band Shell in North Beach, Miami. The festival features performances by Snarky Puppy all three nights, with a line-up curated by League that has featured David Crosby, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, The Wood Brothers, Robert Glasper, Knower, Concha Buika, C4 Trio, Pedrito Martinez, Jojo Mayer + Nerve, Mark Guiliana's Beat Music, John Medeski's Mad Skillet, Charlie Hunter Trio, Laura Mvula, Eliades Ochoa, Esperanza Spalding, Lionel Loueke, Joshua Redman and Terence Blanchard, as well as the full GroundUP Music roster, among others. GroundUP Music Festival, Miami, is now planned as an annual event.
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- Kahn, Andy (2016-10-13). "Snarky Puppy & GroundUP Music Announce 2017 GroundUP Music Festival Lineup". jambase.com. Jambase. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
- "GroundUP Music Festival Feb 9 - 11, 2018". jambase.com. Jambase. 2017-10-17. Retrieved 14 September 2018.