Bashiri Johnson: Celebrity Percussionist, Producer, Educator

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Today, Andy talks with the brilliant musician most widely known by chart-topping artists themselves: Bashiri Johnson. Bashiri has recorded and/or performed with artistic legends including Beyonce, Madonna, Whitney Houston, the Rolling Stones, Michael Bolton, Cher, Duran Duran, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Barry Manilow, and Michael Jackson.

Growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY in the 1960s and 70s, Bashiri was a talented risk-taker, self-described as “always in motion, never still.” Since he first started formally playing percussion—as opposed to jamming out on chairs and desks—in his freshman year of high school, Bashiri has played everywhere he could. In fact, Bashiri was so driven to perform, he even snuck backstage at a Miles Davis concert to see Mtume—then asked for percussion lessons. As luck had it, Mtume agreed to hang out with Bashiri, which led to a three year mentorship that served to launch the rest of Bashiri’s nonstop creative lifestyle for decades to come.

Not only does Bashiri explore his near-meditative approach to his “first listens,” but he describes some of his favorite memories at length, including adding a twist while recording “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandroff, recording on a Miles Davis song, performing live with Aretha Franklin at Radio City Music Hall, and working alongside the iconic artist, Michael Jackson. In his characteristic candor, Bashiri reveals the key personality traits that drove him to share what he loves most with the world.


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