Bruce Hornsby has built one of the most diverse, collaborative and adventurous careers in contemporary music. Drawing from a vast wellspring of American musical traditions, the singer/pianist/composer/bandleader has created a large and accomplished body of work and employed a vast array of stylistic approaches. Throughout this period, Hornsby has maintained the integrity, virtuosity and artistic curiosity that have been hallmarks of his work from the start.
The 13-time Grammy nominee's commercial stock soared early on when "The Way It Is" – the title track of Bruce Hornsby and the Range's 1986 debut album – became the most-played song on American radio in 1987 and won ASCAP's Song of the Year award. "The Way It Is" and hits like "Mandolin Rain" and "Every Little Kiss" established Hornsby as a popular musician, while subsequent high-profile work with the likes of Don Henley, Willie Nelson, Charlie Haden and Bonnie Raitt made him an in-demand collaborator.
Though a talented and instantly identifiable singer, bandleader and pianist, Hornsby is a songwriter at heart. He is committed to portraying his songs in new ways that allow them to evolve and expand. This approach was further developed during his time spent playing over one hundred shows with The Grateful Dead between 1990 and 1995. Hornsby admired the Dead's vibrant tradition of loosely blending folk, blues and improvisation found a kindred spirit in the Dead, with their vibrant tradition of loosely blending folk, jazz, blues and improvisation.
Over the years, Hornsby has successfully ventured into jazz, classical, bluegrass and even electronica, reflected on acclaimed releases like the bluegrass project Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby (2007) and the jazz trio album Camp Meeting (2007), with Jack DeJohnette and Christian McBride. The prestigious list of Hornsby collaborators now includes diverse figures like Ornette Coleman, Bob Dylan, Bela Fleck, Elton John, Branford Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Robbie Robertson, Leon Russell, Chaka Khan, Wayne Shorter, Squeeze, Tupac Shakur, Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks, Bob Seger and Sting.
A University of Miami alum, Hornsby has also partnered with The Frost School of Music to establish the Creative American Music Program, a curriculum designed to develop the creative skills of talented young artist/songwriters by immersing them in the diverse traditions that form the foundations of modern American songwriting.
In July of 2006, Bruce Hornsby released a four CD/DVD box set titled Intersections (1985-2005). A full third of the music was previously unreleased and most of the familiar tracks were presented as unreleased live versions. The set also featured "Song H," a new composition that was nominated for a Best Pop Instrumental Grammy award in 2007.
Intersections is definitive in many ways, yet only tells part of the Virginia native's musical story. His three Grammy wins typify the diversity of his first decade of recording: Best New Artist as leader of Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Best Bluegrass Recording for a version of "The Valley Road" that appeared on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will The Circle Be Unbroken Volume Two, and a shared award with Branford Marsalis in 1993 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for "Barcelona Mona," a song for the 1992 Olympic Games.
The sales stats and breadth of his superstar collaborations (including being sampled many times by rap/hip-hop artists) speak volumes about Hornsby's unique fusion of mainstream appeal and wild musical diversity. His albums have sold over 11 million copies worldwide. Harbor Lights was the 1994 winner of the Downbeat Reader's Poll Beyond Album of the Year (meaning all music other than Jazz and Blues). Tupac Shakur co-wrote a new song over "The Way It Is" music with Bruce, using new words, called "Changes"; it was a major worldwide hit, selling 14 million copies.
Throughout the years, Hornsby has participated in several memorable events: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opening concert in September 1995, Farm Aid IV and VI, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival, Woodstock II (1994), Woodstock III (1999), and Bonnaroo in 2011. An avid sports fan, Hornsby, solo and with Branford Marsalis has performed the National Anthem for many major events including the NBA All-Star game, four NBA finals, the 1997 World Series Game 5, the night Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's all-time consecutive game streak, and the Ken Burns Baseball soundtrack.
Indeed, Bruce Hornsby's restless musical spirit continues to spontaneously push him forward into exciting new musical pursuits. He's currently working on a prospective Broadway musical titled SCKBSTD. He's composed and recorded several projects for filmmaker Spike Lee; endtitle songs for two films, Clockers (1995) (with Chaka Khan) and Bamboozled (2001). Most recently, he has written and recorded the score to Kobe Doin' Work, Lee's 2009 ESPN documentary on Kobe Bryant, and Lee's latest work, 2012's Red Hook Summer. Hornsby is also featured onscreen in the Robin Williams/Bobcat Goldthwaite film World's Greatest Dad (2009).
2011 brought the release of Bride Of The Noisemakers - an ambitious 25 track, double CD chronicling 2007-2009 live performances of some of the singer/songwriter and pianist's handpicked songs of the past 20 years. The songs are recorded live capturing the playful, freewheeling spirit of his longtime band The Noisemakers.
Such projects are consistent with Hornsby's lifelong pursuit of musical transcendence. "To me," says Hornsby, "it's always been about staying inspired, broadening my reach and moving into new areas. So it's a fantastic situation to be able to do that, and to continue to pursue a wide-ranging musical life."