Mindi Abair

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Mindi Abair
Abair performing in St. Helena, California in August 2021.
Abair performing in St. Helena, California in August 2021.
Background information
Born (1969-05-23) May 23, 1969 (age 54)
St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
GenresRock, soul, pop, Contemporary jazz, smooth jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, radio host, band leader, author, public speaker
Instrument(s)Vocals, saxophone, keyboard
Years active1991–present
LabelsHeads Up, Concord Music Group, Verve

Mindi Abair (born May 23, 1969) is an American 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 No. 1 radio singles, two No. 1 Billboard Jazz CDs, and four more solo CDs that have landed No. 5 and above on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. She was the featured saxophonist for the 2011 and 2012 seasons of American Idol, and performed with the rock band Aerosmith.[1] Abair's recordings have twice been nominated for Grammy Awards.[2]

Early life[edit]

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]


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". 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]

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]

The album Summer Horns, a collaboration with Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, and Richard Elliot, was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards.[2]

On May 27, 2014, Abair released[10] Wild Heart on Concord Records imprint, Heads Up International. The record debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Jazz chart and No. 152 on the Billboard Top 200.[11] The record, which included collaborations with the late Gregg Allman, Joe Perry and Trombone Shorty, was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in the 2015 Grammy Awards.[2]

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 founded by the Women's International Music Network.[12]

In 2015, after working with Randy Jacobs (founder of The Boneshakers) on the tour for Wild Heart, he and Abair decided to form Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers, which includes Mindi Abair (saxophone, vocals), Randy Jacobs (guitar, vocals), Sweet Pea Atkinson (vocals), Rodney Lee (keyboards), Derek Frank (bass, vocals), and Third Richardson (drums, vocals).[13] In late 2015, they released a live album Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers Live in Seattle via Pledge Music and HeadsUp, which featured a performance from Seattle's Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in February 2015. In summer 2017, the group announced their first studio project via Randy Jacobs' website.[14] Recorded over five days at EastWest Studios with producer Kevin Shirley, The EastWest Sessions, included 11 blues and rock tracks, was released on September 15, 2017.[15] Joe Bonamassa and Fantastic Negrito were featured guests.[16] The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Blues Albums Chart on the week of October 7, 2017.[17]

"Pretty Good for a Girl," a tongue-in-cheek track co-written by Abair and Jacobs for the album, inspired Abair to launch the web platform PrettyGoodForAGirl.net. The goal of the website is to celebrate exceptional women and turn "pretty good for a girl" into a phrase of empowerment.[18]

In October 2018, Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers released their first blues rock holiday album, All I Got For Christmas Is The Blues. It debuted at number 7 on the Billboard Blues Albums Chart, number 1 on the RMR Holiday Album and Song Chart and number 13 on Sirius XM Bluesville. It featured four original songs including "All I Got For Christmas Is The Blues" and five holiday classics including "Merry Christmas Baby" and "The Christmas Song".

In June 2019, Abair and The Boneshakers released No Good Deed.[19] It debuted at number 3 in the Billboard Blues Albums Chart.[20]

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.[21]

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?"[22] Abair was featured on the 2012 American Idol season, performing with Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet. 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. She was also part of the selected brass section for Ledet's performance of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" originally by James Brown. 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.[22]

She filled in as the saxophonist with the CBS Orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman on April 3 and 4, 2012.[23] 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.[24]

Other ventures[edit]

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 two-year term as National Trustee of the Recording Academy in 2015.


Studio albums[edit]

  • Always and Never the Same (1999)
  • It Just Happens That Way (2003)
  • Come As You Are (2005)
  • Life Less Ordinary (2007)
  • Stars (2008)
  • In Hi-Fi Stereo (2010)
  • Wild Heart (2014)
  • Mindi Abair & The BoneshakersThe EastWest Sessions (2017)
  • Mindi Abair & The BoneshakersNo Good Deed (2019)
  • Forever (2022)

Christmas albums[edit]

  • I Can't Wait for Christmas (2004)
  • Mindi Abair & The BoneshakersAll I Got For Christmas Is The Blues (2018)

Live albums[edit]

Collaboration album appearances[edit]

  • Peter White Christmas (2007)
  • Dave Koz and Friends: Summer Horns (2013)
  • Peter White Christmas LIVE! (2015)

Guest appearances[edit]

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

Compilation album appearances[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 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 No. 1 Hits (2011)
  • Smooth Jazz Hits: Ultimate Grooves (2012)


  1. ^ Gottlieb, Jed (July 13, 2012). "Steven Tyler taps sax player Mindi Abair for Aerosmith role". Boston Herald. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Mindi Abair". Grammy.com. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  3. ^ Soergel, Brian (February 21, 2005). "Smooth Jazz Vibes: Mindi Abair To Be Married In April". SmoothVibes.com. Archived from the original on October 31, 2015. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  4. ^ Smith, Baldwin "Smitty" (May 2008). "Jazz Monthly Feature Interview: Mindi Abair". JazzMonthly.com. Archived from the original on April 12, 2009. 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. May 31, 1969. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  9. ^ Soergel, Brian (June 2010). "In Hi Fi Stereo – Mindi Abair". JazzTimes.
  10. ^ "Wild Heart by Mindi Abair on iTunes". Itunes.apple.com. May 27, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  11. ^ "Wild Heart" Debuted No. 1 Billboard Jazz, No. 1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz and No. 152 on the Billboard Top 200". MindiAbair.com. May 29, 2014. Archived from the original on June 23, 2015. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  12. ^ a b McDonnell, Evelyn (January 24, 2015). "Women take the spotlight at NAMM's She Rock Awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  13. ^ "Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers". Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  14. ^ "New Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers CD!". Randy Jacobs. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  15. ^ "Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers – SHOP". Mindi Abair & The Boneshakers. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  16. ^ Villanueva, Jim (September 12, 2017). "SESSIONS, LESSONS EARNED, LEARNED: MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS SHAKE, RATTLE WITH SOUL ON THE EASTWEST SESSIONS". All Access Music. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  17. ^ "Billboard Blues Album Sales Chart". Billboard.com. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  18. ^ "Pretty Good for a Girl – About page". Prettygoodforagirl.net. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  19. ^ "No Good Deed - Mindi Abair, Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  20. ^ "Blues Music: Top Blues Albums Chart". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Chill with Mindi Abair". ChillWithMindiAbair.com. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Late Show with David Letterman". CBS.com. May 18, 2015. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  24. ^ Mindi Abair at IMDb

External links[edit]