Where it all began: about ten years ago, I got a call for a gig that turned my career on a path I never expected and allowed me to coin the phrase “hip hop harp”. I might not have been the first, but it was certainly uncommon. It was Live8 Philadelphia and the artist was an up and coming hip hop king who I’ll only name as Ye or Yeezy. We played to millions of people on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum and later performed on SNL, Late Night with David Letterman, MTV, Jingle Ball, at Madison Square Garden, Lollapalooza, and more. Somewhere in the Harp Column archives, there’s an article about my experiences during that era.
Later on, other artists started calling, and the gigs with Ye went elsewhere. I never thought I’d share the stage with him again.
Then I got the call last Friday, asking if I could clear my schedule and be in LA three days later to rehearse with Ye for two shows at the Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl!! Bucket list venue with my very first backing gig artist. It seemed almost poetic.
We played his “808’s and Heartbreak” album in its entirety to sold-out crowds on that legendary, iconic stage. Those songs had never been performed live before and it was thrilling from every aspect. That’s all I can really say due to non-disclosures and all. (There’s a Rolling Stone review outlining more details here if you’re interested in finding out more about it.)
After we took the cast bow, I received a hug backstage and was able to say how great it was to play with him again. He genuinely thanked me and gave me one of his elusive smiles.
Thank you, Mr. West, for an incredible adventure.