In addition to performances of Oscar-nominated songs, the 2022 Academy Awards will have another musical treat underlining the telecast: an all-star band featuring pianist Robert Glasper along with headline-making drummer Travis Barker, legendary lead singer Sheila E., and musical director Adam Blackstone. You may know Travis from Blink-182 fame and Sheila E. is best known from her work with Prince, but we’re here to break down five things about a Robert, a supremely talented musician set to add his bit of spice to the show.
He’s A Jazz Pianist, Songwriter, And Musical Arranger
Born April 6, 1978 in Houston, Texas, Robert was influenced by his mother, Kim Yvette Glasper who was a professional jazz and blues singer. In addition to going with his mom to numerous club performances, he was also raised in the church and performed there often. After attending Houston’s High School for the Performing Arts, his playing career really took off while he was studying at the New School in New York City. Robert began touring with great jazz artists in the field and also became involved in the growing neo soul movement, associating with artists like Jill Scott and The Roots, ultimately teaming up with Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) to work as his musical director.
His Music Combines Jazz, Hip Hop, Neo-Soul, And More
Robert’s music is many things! In addition to his formal training and early work experiences with jazz artists, Robert is also heavily influenced by hip hop, neo-soul, rock n’ roll, gospel and R&B. His albums and work is centered around his solo work plus his two bands: The Robert Glasper Trio and The Robert Glasper Experiment.
Robert has noted how renowned trumpet player Miles Davis influenced and inspired his music, formulating his style in his career. “I’m obviously influenced by Miles Davis – even just the psyche of how he thinks about music…how he moves through, and always wanted to reflect the times he’s in,” Robert told The New York Times in 2016. “That’s what I’m doing now. He opened that door.”
He’s Signed With Blue Note Records
In 2005, Robert released his debut on Blue Note Records, Canvas, which featured nine original compositions and a cover of Herbie Hancock‘s “Riot.” Blue Note, owned by Universal Music Group and operated under Capitol Music Group was founded by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis in 1939 and became one of the most influential and prolific jazz labels of the 20th century. With artists like Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Dexter Gordon having recorded for the label, Robert is definitely in good company!
He’s A Big-Hitter At The Grammys
It’s no surprise an institution like the Academy is interested in an artist like Robert, considering his numerous notable accomplishments. The pianist has been nominated for five Grammys and has won four from 2010-2021, throughout the Best Urban/Alternative Performance, Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media, Best Progressive R&B Album, and Best R&B Song categories.
He’s Worked With Numerous High Profile Artists
The amount of notable, singular artists with whom Robert has worked is pretty incredible. In addition to his involvement in the neo-soul/hip hop movement of the late ’90s/early ’00s, Robert went on to collaborate with a slew of other artists, including but not limited to Lupe Fiasco, Erykah Badu, Bilal, Questlove, Solange, Common, Norah Jones, and more, who all appeared as guest vocalists on his Black Radio (2012) and Black Radio 2 (2013). In 2015 he collaborated with Lauryn Hill on Nina Revisited…A Tribute to Nina Simone ahead of the documentary on Nina Simone, What Happened, Miss Simone?
More work with film came in 2016 when Robert worked as producer, composer, and arranger for the Don Cheadle-lead Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead. He also released Everything is Beautiful which served as a tribute to the famous jazz musician via remixes and interpretations of his original works. The album saw Robert again working with Erykah Badu as well as Stevie Wonder, among others.
Robert was also prominently featured on Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy-winning 2016 album To Pimp a Butterfly and formed supergroups August Greene with Common, and Karreim Riggins, as well as Dinner Party with Kamasi Washington, 9th Wonder, and Terrace Martin.