Mindi Abair

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Mindi Abair
Mindi Abair - Jazz Alley - Seattle - 2011.jpg
Mindi Abair performing at Jazz Alley in Seattle, Washington on January 10, 2011
Background information
Birth name Mindi Abair
Born (1969-05-23) May 23, 1969 (age 48)
St. Petersburg, Florida, United States
Genres Contemporary jazz, rock, pop, soul, smooth jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, radio host, band leader, author, public speaker
Instruments Vocals, saxophone, keyboard, flute
Years active 1991-present
Labels Heads Up, Concord Music Group, Verve
Associated acts Backstreet Boys, Aerosmith, Duran Duran, Adam Sandler, Mandy Moore, Gregg Allman, Dave Koz
Website mindiabair.com
Notable instruments
Yamaha Custom 82Z Silver Alto Saxophone, Yamaha Custom 82Z Silver Tenor Saxophone, Yamaha YSS-82ZR Curved Neck Silver Soprano Saxophone,

Mindi Abair (born May 23, 1969) is an American two time Grammy Award nominated[1] saxophonist, vocalist, author, and National Trustee for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization that puts on the Grammy Awards show.

Her solo career has produced ten #1 radio singles, two #1 Billboard Jazz CDs, and four more solo CDs that have landed #5 and above on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. She was the featured saxophonist for the 2011 and 2012 seasons of American Idol, performed with the rock band Aerosmith,[2] for their 2012 Summer Tour, joined Bruce Springsteen and Max Weinberg for a night at the Beacon Theater and has played with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra three times on Late Show with David Letterman.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Mindi Abair was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her father Lance Abair played saxophone and keyboards, and her grandmother Virginia Rice was an opera singer, and piano and vocal instructor. Mindi started playing the piano at age five, and started playing alto saxophone at age eight, when her elementary school band instructor laid out instruments on the first day of band class and instructed each student to pick the instrument they most wanted to play.[citation needed] Mindi spent much of her early life on the road with her father's band, The Entertainers.

She acted as drum major of her high school marching band in her junior and senior years at Northside Christian School in St. Petersburg. As a senior in high school, she won the first chair alto saxophone for the Florida All-State Jazz Band. Abair spent her first year of college on a full scholarship at the University of North Florida, a jazz program started by Rich Matteson. She transferred to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, attending on a scholarship and studying saxophone with Joe Viola and George Garzone. Abair graduated magna cum laude in 1991 with a degree in Woodwind Performance. She formed her first band in college.[3]


Mindi Abair Live In Las Vegas, Nevada at the Smith Center in 2014

Performances and releases[edit]

In 1991, after college, Abair moved to Los Angeles, California, where she began booking her band into clubs, coffee shops and hotels. She played solo on the street at 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California and garnered the attention of jazz keyboardist Bobby Lyle, who hired her to record on his Power of Touch CD and tour with him. Her touring opportunities expanded over the next decade, as she toured as a saxophonist/singer and keyboardist with Adam Sandler, John Tesh, Jonathan Butler, Teena Marie, Rick Braun as well. Abair was featured on saxophone in the Go West video "Tell Me". And in 1996, she appeared on Adam Sandler's HBO Special and recorded on his platinum CD What's Your Name? playing the saxophone solo on "The Lonesome Kicker" and singing on various tracks.

In 1999, Abair joined the Backstreet Boys for their Millennium World Tour, and spent the next year and a half as their saxophonist, keyboardist and percussionist. She assembled Mandy Moore's first band and acted as musical director, keyboardist, background singer and percussionist for many of Moore's first television appearances and shows.

When not touring, Abair released her first complete solo album, Always and Never the Same, an all vocal pop record, independently.[4] Abair performed in local Los Angeles rock clubs to promote the record, in addition to her touring with the Backstreet Boys.

In 2003, Abair signed to Verve Records and released the album It Just Happens That Way, which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart[5] and remained in the Top 10 for 19 consecutive weeks. Billboard named the album one of the top 10 Contemporary Jazz CDs of the year. Her hit single "Lucy's" was No. 1 on R&R for a record-breaking eight weeks.[citation needed]

In 2004, Abair released "Come As You Are", which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts.[6] She followed that with Life Less Ordinary in 2006, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart[7] and remained in the top 20 for 45 weeks. Her songs "True Blue" and "Bloom" hit No. 1 on R&R.

Abair signed to Concord Records in 2007 and released her genre breaking Stars in 2008 which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart.[8] Her single "Stars" (co-written and produced by Matthew Hager) charted at No. 29 Adult Contemporary R&R simultaneously with her single "Smile" which reached No. 1 on the R&R jazz airplay charts. She released "Hi-Fi Stereo" in 2010[9] which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart.[8] The album spawned the No. 1 hit "Be Beautiful" written by David Ryan Harris.[8]

In 2013, Abair collaborated with Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, and Gerald Albright on the album Summer Horns.[citation needed] It was nominated for a Grammy Award.

On May 27, 2014, Abair released[10] "Wild Heart" on Concord Records imprint, Heads Up International. The record debuted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz chart and #152 on the Billboard Top 200.[11] The record was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in the 2015 Grammy Awards.[1]

Abair received the Mad Skills Award at the third annual She Rocks at NAMM Show (organized by NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants) on January 24, 2015.[12] Held in Anaheim, California, the event was sponsored by the Women's International Music Network.[12]

Radio host[edit]

In 2007, Abair took over the nationally syndicated radio program Chill with Chris Botti which he had hosted for two years. The name changed to "Chill With Mindi Abair," which she hosted from 2007 to 2015. The focus of the program was chill out music.[13]

Television appearances[edit]

Abair featured on the 2011 American Idol season as a soloist with Paul McDonald and Casey Abrams and playing behind contestants Jacob Lusk and Haley Reinhart. Steven Tyler remarked to McDonald after her debut on the show "Forget you, who's your sax player?"[14] Abair was featured on the 2012 American Idol season, performing with Phillip Phillips. Abair appeared with Phillips six times as a featured saxophonist, performing the songs "U Got It Bad" originally by Usher, "Disease" originally by Matchbox Twenty, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" originally by Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Movin' Out" originally by Billy Joel, "In The Midnight Hour" originally by Wilson Pickett and "Give A Little More" originally by Maroon 5. Tyler was so impressed with Abair that he invited her to join Aerosmith on the summer leg of their 2012 world tour playing sax and singing backing vocals.[14] Abair performed a duet with Joey Kramer during his drum solo.[citation needed]

She filled in as the saxophonist with the CBS Orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman on April 3 and 4, 2012.[15] She sat in with the band again on July 29, 2014, and she also performed her original songs "Wild Heart" and "Train."

Abair has also appeared on The Tavis Smiley Show and more than once on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[16]

Other ventures[edit]


In 2011, Abair self-published her first book, How To Play Madison Square Garden, a guide to stage performance. She collaborated on it with her father Ross Abair and Ross Cooper. It was released on Amazon.com as both a Kindle electronic format and in paperback, and has a 5 star rating.[citation needed] John Taylor of Duran Duran (and veteran of Madison Square Garden) said of the book: "For the next generation of wanna-be arena-fillers, there is now an alternative to spending years on the road, playing empty dives, and pimping out the bass player to get radio play. Mindi Abair's book gives away every professional secret of how to make it to Madison Square Garden. And how to get an encore!"[17]

National Academy of Recording Arts And Sciences[edit]

In 2009, Abair was elected as a Governor on the Board of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, serving for three years until 2012, when she was elected as Secretary. She spent one year serving as Secretary. In 2013, Abair was elected to a two-year term as the President of the Los Angeles Chapter, taking over the position from the previous president, MC Lyte. Mindi was elected to a 2 year term as National Trustee of the Recording Academy in 2015.



Guest appearances[edit]

Collaboration Albums[edit]


Compilation albums[edit]

  • A Twist Of Motown (2003)
  • WSJT 94.1 Smooth Jazz, Vol. 6 (2003)
  • KKSF 103.7 FM Sampler For AIDS Relief, Vol. 14 (2003)
  • Forever, For Always, For Luther (2004) on "Stop To Love"
  • First Annual SmoothJazz.com: Smoothie Award Winners (2004)
  • Live Your Life With Verve: Autumn Moods (2004)
  • Dreams And Vision (2005)
  • WNUA 95.5 Smooth Jazz Sampler, Vol. 18 (2005)
  • Jazziz: Women, Volume 7 (2006)
  • KWJZ 98.9 Smooth Jazz Vol. 10 (2006)
  • Wave Music, Vol. 9: Max (2006)
  • The Best Christmas... Ever! (Poland) (2006)
  • Smooth Sounds of the Season, Vol. 1: Circuit City Exclusive (2006)
  • KKSF 103.7 FM Sampler For AIDS Relief, Vol. 17 (2006)
  • Smooth Ones (2007)
  • Smooth Jazz Hits (2009)
  • Smooth Jazz #1 Hits (2011)
  • Smooth Jazz Hits: Ultimate Grooves (2012)


  1. ^ a b "57th Annual GRAMMY Awards Winners & Nominees". Grammy.com. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  2. ^ Gottlieb, Jed (July 13, 2012). "Steven Tyler taps sax player Mindi Abair for Aerosmith role". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  3. ^ Soergel, Brian (2005-02-21). "Smooth Jazz Vibes: Mindi Abair To Be Married In April". SmoothVibes.com. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  4. ^ Smith, Baldwin "Smitty" (May 2008). "Jazz Monthly Feature Interview: Mindi Abair". JazzMonthly.com. Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  5. ^ "It Just Happens That Way". Billboard.com. Retrieved September 17, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Come as you Are". Billboard.com. Retrieved September 17, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Life Less Ordinary". Billboard.com. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c "Mindi Abair | Awards". AllMusic. 1969-05-31. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  9. ^ Soergel, Brian (June 2010). "In Hi Fi Stereo – Mindi Abair". JazzTimes. 
  10. ^ "Wild Heart by Mindi Abair on iTunes". Itunes.apple.com. 2014-05-27. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  11. ^ "Wild Heart" Debuted #1 Billboard Jazz, #1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz and #152 on the Billboard Top 200". MindiAbair.com. May 29, 2014. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  12. ^ a b McDonnell, Evelyn (2015-01-24). "Women take the spotlight at NAMM's She Rock Awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  13. ^ "Chill with Mindi Abair". ChillWithMindiAbair.com. 
  14. ^ a b Parker, Lyndsey (April 14, 2011). "Who Was That Mystery Sax Player On 'Idol' Last Night?". Reality Rocks, Yahoo.com. Archived from the original on April 18, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Late Show with David Letterman". CBS.com. 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  16. ^ Mindi Abair on IMDb
  17. ^ Abair, Mindi; Abair, Lance; Cooper, Ross. How To Play Madison Square Garden: A How-To Guide To Stage Performance. Amazon.com. ISBN 9780983936305. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 

External links[edit]