Simultaneously futuristic and retro, experimental and classic, the flaming hot sound of Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles is an intoxicating blend of blues, soul, R&B, Afrobeat, gospel, and jazz.
This fusion of sounds will be celebrated on the stages of this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival at the end of March.
The on-stage charisma of frontman Cory Henry, a Brooklyn native and two-time Grammy Award winner with instrumental jazz-R&B collective Snarky Puppy, pays tribute to a lifetime of live performing, dating right back to his debut at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theatre, at the tender age of six.
Although he grew up performing and singing in church, it would take many years for Henry to find the confidence to share his singing voice professionally. “I just didn’t think it was good enough,” he says.
“I didn’t think anyone else would want to hear it. But now that I’ve overcome my fear of singing, I’ve gotten comfortable with my voice, and it’s become just like another instrument for me.”
Well, thank goodness for that. Because, although the Hammond B-3 organ – Henry’s instrument of choice – creates the central sound of the band’s musical identity, it is arguably his smooth and breathy vocals that really gives this class act the edge.
His intimate delivery is both alternately understated and ecstatic, synthesising everything from Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye to Stevie Wonder and Prince.
Henry’s career began in 2006, when the then 19-year-old joined the touring band of jazz icon Kenny Garrett.
He subsequently went on to tour or record with dozens of mainstream and gospel artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Michael McDonald, P. Diddy, Boyz II Men, The Roots, Israel Houghton, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin and Yolanda Adams.
Then, with more than a decade of professional and touring experience under his belt, Henry finally decided to branch out on his own. After cracking the Top 10 on Billboard’s Jazz charts with a pair of solo albums – “First Steps” in 2014, and “The Revival” in 2016, he has never looked back.
In July 2018, Henry released “Chapter 1: The Art of Love”, the first album with his new band The Funk Apostles. Each member was hand-picked to help bring his contemporary musical vision to life. Guitarist Adam Agati, who co-wrote the album’s lyrics with Henry, has worked with everyone from Booker T. Jones to Ludacris.
Bassist Sharay Reed has performed with Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin and the legendary Chaka Khan, who is also performing at this year’s festival.
TaRon Lockett has performed with Snarky Puppy and some of the biggest names in R&B, including Erykah Badu and Montell Jordan, while keyboardist Nick Semrad’s credits include Miss Lauryn Hill, Bilal and Gabriel Garzon- Montano. “I want to make music that means something,” says Henry.
“I think of the 60s and 70s as this golden era of music, and if you look at some of the top artists then, they used music as a tool to reach the world and bring about change, to help make it a better place. I want to do that, too. I want to convey these messages that are really important and meaningful to me through my music. And I look forward to connecting and communicating with fans, old and new, in Cape Town soon.”
CTIJF 2019 will celebrate 20 years of international and local jazz, and is set to take place on 29 and 30 March 2019 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Tickets for CTIJF 2019 are available exclusively at Computicket.
CTIJF 2019 Weekend Passes will remain the same price as last year: Weekend Pass: R 1290 – Day Pass: R 850.
CTIJF 2019 Premier Hospitality packages are on sale now.