Kenny G brings Christmas tunes and more for State Theatre debut
Kenny G has played Tokyo, Singapore and Spain.
He’s performed in London’s Royal Albert Hall and New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
And at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, he’s at the State Theatre Center for the Arts for his first-ever Easton concert.
And Kenny G wouldn’t have his life any other way.
“I’m proud of being one of the guys who has been a road musican for the last 30 years,” he says.
“I’m proud of the hard work we do on tour and waking up at 4 a.m. to practice for two plus-hours before a show. And I’m proud audiences have no idea about all that. We just want people to enjoy the show.”
The Grammy-winning saxophonist with the admirable work ethic and the same band he has been working with for the past three decades says “The Miracles Holiday & Hits Tour” concert is a mixture of Christmas and non-Christmas songs.
He performs some of his greatest hits and songs from his 1994 hit Christmas album, “Miracles: The Holiday Album,” which took Kenny G to the top of the Billboard chart for the first time and has since become the best-selling holiday album of all time with more than eight million copies sold.
Follow-up holiday albums, “Faith,” in 1999, and “Wishes,” in 2002, also have been successful.
“I don’t think anybody does holiday music better than we do,” Kenny G says. “I think people will be impressed.”
Kenny G has plenty of reasons to be proud with a recording career that spans almost four decades and 23 albums to his name. His style that fuses elements of rhythm and blues, pop and Latin to a jazz foundation has built his reputation as the premiere artist in contemporary jazz.
His skill on the saxophone and indelible melodies have resulted in sales of more than 75 million records worldwide and more than one dozen climbs to the top of Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart.
Surprisingly, Kenny G’s first musical foray was on the piano when he was growing up in Seattle, Wash.
“My mom always encouraged music and she started me with piano lessons at six, but I didn’t really like piano,” he says.
When he has in fourth grade, he heard a saxophone musician on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “never looked back.”
He started playing saxophone in his school band.
“It just kind of happened,” he says. “But when I got to high school, I really started to get excited about the saxophone.”
In high school, Kenny G played in the jazz band and met keyboard player Robert Damper, who still plays in his band.
When Kenny G was 17, he landed a gig with Barry White and his Love Unlimited Orchestra at the Paramount Northwest Theater.
“Everyone was telling me I was really good,” he says. ”I just followed my instincts. I was never afraid to jump in and try things.”
He says when his father came to him and asked him what he planned to do in the future, he answered, “I’m going to play sax for the next couple years.”
After high school, gigs with R&B and contemporary jazz artists like White and Jeff Lorber kept coming. In 1982, he was offered a record deal with Arista, which launched his solo career.
“It was cool how things just happened,” he says. “Every time there was an opportunity I was prepared. The door opened and I said I’m stepping through. I’ve been lucky, but I work hard, too. I’m always trying to get better.”
His 1986 album, “Duotones,” was his breakout album and made him commercially-successful. By the 1990s, he was a multi-platinum seller and a frequent collaborator with some of the most iconic figures in American popular music, including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole and Frank Sinatra.
Kenny G says he also followed his instincts when he started composing music.
“No one told me how to write songs,” he says. “There was no music theory. I just wrote what sounded good.”
A 16-time Grammy nominee, Kenny G received a Grammy award in 1994 for Best Instrumental Composition for “Forever in Love.” That same year, he was named Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist at the American Music Awards.
“I still practice three hours a day,” he says. “That’s how you stay great. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s awesome.”
He says audiences at the concert can expect lots of improvisation with his band and solo with just him and his saxophone.
“Those are the nuances that make it fun and make it different,” he says. “Everything is open for interpretation.”
He says he also will come down into the audience at one point and a lucky audience member will win a signature saxophone. After the concert, he will meet with his fans.
“I’m very accessible,” he says. “I feel it adds to the intimacy, getting to know the artists.”
Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton; statetheatre.org; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132