Affectionately known as “The Prince of Soul Bossa,” Khari Cabral is a man with many talents and opportunities. His father is a successful businessman and philanthropist and his mother is one of academia’s most admired leaders. But rather than pursue a safe career in business or academia, Khari chose to let his passion and deep love for music take him down a different path: the career of a musician, composer and producer.
The decision has been a good one for Cabral. He started playing bass at the age of twelve. As a teen, he performed in high school bands in New Jersey and New Orleans. At 18, he was compelled to move to Atlanta after seeing Spike Lee’s film School Daze about a fictitious black university in Atlanta.
It was the movie’s now-classic soundtrack, produced by Stevie Wonder and Lenny White, with songs from Marcus Miller, E.U., the late Phyllis Hyman, Kenny Barron, Pieces of Dream and Terence Blanchard that Khari found so compelling. The fusion of jazz, pop, R&B and “downtown Atlanta soul” was a revelation for him. Atlanta provided Khari yet a new place to call home. He attended historic Morehouse College and earned a BA in Music Composition and Theory.
After graduating, Khari aligned with some of Atlanta’s best musicians and entrepreneurs and formed “The Groovement and Earthseed Music Collective.” Members of Earthseed included India.Arie, Donnie, and Jiva. For two years they put on concerts, children’s workshops and released a successful compilation album that was directly responsible for the national discovery of India.Arie.
Earthseed’s compilation album proved to be a springboard for Khari as well when it caught the attention of New York tastemaker label, Giant Step Records. They signed Cabral to a record deal and released the international hit “Love Chooses Lovers”. Khari’s collaboration with British singer Julie Dexter, Moon Bossa, helped launch the rediscovery of “Soul-Bossa,” a style that Cabral describes as “classic Bossa Nova meets Motown.”
When India.Aire was offered the opening act for Sade’s Lover’s Rock tour, she didn’t hesitate to invite Khari to join her on the road. After the three month tour, Khari was asked to become a full-time member of her band. He also made time to tour with Jiva and Russell Gunn in Europe. When he met his true love, he followed his heart once again and moved to Australia to start a family, teach bass and hone his composing and producing chops.
With his newest album, Clementine Sun, Cabral comes full circle. Recorded in Atlanta and mixed in London by friend and mentor Bluey, Clementine Sun is a fresh fusion of soulful bossa spiked with jazz and retro pop sensibilities and reinforces Khari Cabral as “the prince of soul bossa.”
The all-star lineup on Clementine Sun includes Oteil Burbridge on six string electric bass, Russell Gunn on trumpet and the incomparable Incognito horn section. Vocal contributors include Sabrina Malheiros, Monday Michiru and Chantae Cann. The album’s first single, Stevie Wonder’s “Never in Your Sun,” features multi-Grammy winner India.Aire.
I recently spoke with Khari Cabral about his new cd Clementine Sun.
Daood Obaid: The song “Clementine Sun”: Enthusiasm, sun bursting energy radiates happiness even on a rainy day. Explain the creation of this featured addition and its unique title.
Khari Cabral: Yes. That song was actually written in Melbourne, Australia. I was at my desk working on some other music. I looked out the window and saw one of the beautiful Melbourne sunsets. It immediately inspired the song. Progression and vocal line came at the same time; a pure homage to the bright orange hue of lovely sunsets that happen near water.
Musically, what was the precursor to you playing the bass?