Flutist Dwayne Kerr
His masterful mix of sounds and grooves is the memorable variable that makes flutist Dwayne Kerr, of the Erykah Badu Band (Neda Stela), a rising figure in contemporary music today. Playing an instrument that traditionally has been heard more often than seen, Kerr has put the flute up front on display with his unique playing style in his debut CD, Flutation, which was released on DManns Records in January 2003. His latest CD, Higher Calling, is a maturation of an artist that has evolved over several years in both the live setting and in the studio.
Kerr was hired to play as a band member for Grammy Award-winning Erykah Badu in 1998. While touring with Erykah, Dwayne has played in Africa, Italy, Japan, throughout Europe and Scandinavia, on the all-female artists Lilith Fair Tour and television appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, MTV’s Real World, The Oprah Show, Live! With Regis and BET Live.
While touring and recording with Erykah Badu for the past several years, Dwayne added his sound to recordings including Ms. Badu’s version of the Chaka Khan hit, “Hollywood,” which is on the soundtrack/CD to the Spike Lee movie, Bamboozled, on Motown Records and Erykah’s song, “Today,” which is on the Red Star Sounds compilation CD on Epic Records. Kerr played on Erykah’s latest CD, Worldwide Underground, and her previous CD, Mama’s Gun, on Motown Records.
Raised and still residing on Long Island, New York, Kerr attended New York colleges Nassau Community College, SUNY-Stony Brook and SUNY-Old Westbury, where he was trained classically and in jazz. Kerr is a brilliant flutist who is moving the flute into other genres of music not often explored. Connecting with the audience both in a live setting and on recordings is a trait well-respected by others in the industry. “I've seen Dwayne inspire many people all over the world with his sound,” said RC Williams, Producer/co-songwriter Higher Calling and Producer/Songwriter/MD for Erykah Badu.
A by-product of his ascending career, Kerr signed a deal with AKG Acoustics in 2001 to endorse an AKG wireless headset system. When not touring with Ms. Badu, Kerr is active in his venture as a solo artist, most notable having performed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the Jazz & Broadway Concert at the United Nations and at halftime of several National Basketball Association games. Dwayne has performed on shows with or opened shows for Erykah Badu, Regina Belle, Roy Hargrove, Marion Meadows, Stephanie Mills, Vanessa Rubin and other noted artists.
“As I watch my friend in amazement,” Erykah said of Dwayne, “the high tones and the trills become part of me, helping me to grow on stage. I don’t know which is sweeter, his tone or his soul.”
His latest release, which features a stellar cast to include Erykah, Kirk Whalum and more, is indeed a new chapter in the life of this astounding artist. The making of the project was an organic process that evolved into a musical diary of the musicians involved.
Jeff Feinstein, producer & keys, said, “I think I could write a novel on my experiences with Dwayne and "the cast" of Higher Calling. The most important chapter would be on how much your work can intertwine with life, love and believing in yourself. To me, working on the project represented strong earthly proof of why not to give up on my dreams and God...no matter what.”
Other artists involved on the project were touched as well. “I never realized though what would transpire throughout the recording of the tracks on Higher Calling…[It] means much more than guitar tracks, producing songs and expressing myself thru my blessing, guitar, on a disc,” said Daryl Grone, guitarist.
“Higher Calling represents so much more to me than being my sophomore project. It's about growth as an individual as well as spiritually. Seeing the two merged and expressed through my music, touching people beyond the exterior of what's heard but what's felt when you are truly moved by the music. Higher Calling isn't another Flute CD - it's about an artist who's expressing himself who happens to be a Flutist! One of my music teachers once told me (Doctor Makanda Ken McIntyre), “You are the instrument, the horn/vocal or whatever you’re playing is just an extension of that which emanates from you. The art is in the translation making the two, one voice. Welcome to Higher Calling!!!” – Dwayne Kerr