Sonny Emory
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Sonny Emory

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | INDIE | AFM

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | INDIE | AFM
Band Rock Funk


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"2007 Summer Jazz Series @ Villa Christina"

This was the first installment of this very popular live jazz series featuring drummer Sonny Emory and his band "State of the Art". There was beautiful weather, a beautiful venue and spirited live jazz music. The crowd was dancing in their seats as Sonny took us on a musical journey from Smooth Jazz to Latin to DC Style Go-Go. What a Mix!

Artist Talk sat down with Sonny after his performance to talk about a couple of his passions: Music and his work with kids.

"Barbados Jazz Festival 2002"

Excitement filled the air as Sonny Emory’s arsenal of drums, percussion, more drums, keyboards and yet another set of drums, began to cover the stage complimented by candles and incense. The name of this man’s game is ‘Hypnofunk’, which is also the title of his first CD. As an unabashed and declared Earth, Wind and Fire fan, with whom Emory played for 13 years, it was no disappointment to me that their entire set consisted
of a few long and fabulously executed songs such as ‘Free My Soul’, ‘Hypnofunk’ and a
sizzling arrangement of well known Mingus hit, ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’.

Excerpt of Article By Kris King - - Festivals: Dionne, Dianne and Rachelle: Barbados Jazz 2002

"Barbados Jazz Festival"

Emory was the drummer with Earth, Wind & Fire from 1987 to 1999, and watching him perform live, with his exciting stick-twirling and back-sticking, it’s no wonder he
was such a well-liked member of the group. Emory also co-wrote the tune Cruising, which can be heard on the score to Spike Lee’s 1998 film Get on the Bus. The festival
audience really responded to his drumming and theatrical stage show, as this Georgia
native showed his fine skills as the clock approached midnight. -

"Sonny Emory - Composer, Studio & Touring Drummer"

Sonny Emory can send a crowd into a screaming frenzy the
moment he starts to introduce his outrageous stick twirling
and backsticking techniques into a solo. But this isn't what
makes Sonny one of the most important voices on the drums
today, its just the frosting on the cake. Sonny is as equally in
demand for studio work as he is for what he can do live. He is
considered to be one of the greatest R&B and Funk drummers
to have come along in a while. His clinic appearances are
always sensational events. After a long stint with R&B
legends "Earth, Wind and Fire" Sonny is back out on the road
with Alto Sax great David Sanborn. - Source:

"Sonny Emory - 2006 Comunity Service Award Recipients"

11Alive will celebrate the 31st anniversary of the 11Alive
Community Service Awards, April 11, 2006. The Community Service Awards will be broadcast Saturday, April 15th at 7:30PM on 11 Alive.

Each year the Community Service Awards honors eleven outstanding local volunteers who have demonstrated selfless devotion for the betterment of the
community. 11Alive News Anchors Brenda Wood and Wes Sarginson host the prime time telecast and the proceeds go to charity. This year the dinner/telecast
will benefit Special Olympics Georgia.

The 2006 Community Service Awards recipients are:

Sonny Emory, for giving his time and talent to mentor and to raise funds for the
drum line of his alma mater, Frederick Douglass High School.
- 11Alive News

"Sonny Emory Takes Center Stage"

Sonny Emory is exhausted and sweaty. He has just finished
pouring his heart and soul into a rocking performance before
20,000-plus people attending the Saturday night performances of
the 2005 Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park.

A much sought after drummer for jazz, pop and soul acts Emory
has played in the headliner spot usually reserved for more well-
known performers. Emory's second CD project “Love’s Pure
Light” and his first with his new group State of the Art isn’t due to hit the shelves until a week later.

But Emory and his group did not
disappoint his hometown crowd which was filled with old
classmates, band mates,
friends, supporters, friends and after a new crop of fans. The group with includes his younger brother Darian on saxophone jammed as if they had been
playing together for years. A rousing standing ovation at the
end of his set which featured jazz, funk, fusion and R&B was
well deserved.

“To play here before my hometown
crowd is a dream come true,” Emory tells the crowd. He is so excited and pleased that he
invites all 20,000-plus to
come to his CD release party (for free) at the Variety Playhouse, in Little Five Points, Saturday, June 4 at 8
p.m. Now mind you, the converted movie house only holds 1,100
maximum. Well, do the math. Get there early. “Love’s Pure
Light” has been a two year journey, for Emory. It took that long to finish the CD, Emory said because he’s been out on
the road so much with artists like David Sanborn, Al Jarreau,
Jean Lu-Ponty, and Stanley Clarke. He just got off the road last month with “Miss Devine” Bette Midler. He also stopped in the middle of working on his CD and did a smooth jazz project.

When told by this writer that the CD was a lot funkier than
anticipated, Emory was chuckles at my assessment. “That’s the
thing with men. People have like pigeon-holed me into jazz thing and I don’t know why. Earth
Wind & Fire, Cameo…I’ve played
with all these funk people. I clearly wanted to go with something commercial. My goal is
to eventually play 20,000-seaters. I want to sell out Phillips Arena. That’s the goal for me and the only way to do
that is to play commercial music.”

“Being on stage with big acts like Earth Wind & Fire and Bette
Midler and to see 20,000-plus people give up that kind of energy, it’s addictive and you
want to be able to tap into that as an artist,” he said. “And I like to see people jam and have

But Emory said he doesn’t have
anything against “straight ahead” jazz. He loves it and still plays it and has a ton of respect for it forefathers like
Duke Ellington, Elvin Hayes, Miles Davis and many others. A future CD will be all jazz, he

Emory began playing the drums when he was four after his
father Sonny Sr, a saxophonist gave him a drum set. His
grandfather was a keyboardist. His mother a retired school teacher was a vocalist. Music
was destined to play a major role in Emory’s and his brother’s life.

From elementary school through to college at Georgia State
University, Emory played in the band or orchestra. He is now
teaching part-time at Georgia State.

After the release of Love’s Pure Light, you won’t be able to just pigeon-holed him just as
a drummer, either. Emory was able to stretch creatively by also playing keyboards on
some numbers, and singing. But he adds “I’m still a developing

“It’s not that I’ve been stuck behind the drums for so many
years, but that’s where I’ve been,” he said. “I just wanted to challenge myself and reach out into new territory.”
- By Stan Washington:


Live in Session ~ Released 2007
Produced by: Sonny Emory
Recording Angels

1. On the Spot
2. Scratch
3. Mo Go Go
4. E.S.P.
5. Tin Tin Deo
6. Gap Band Interlude
7. Hypnofunk

Hypnofunk ~ Released 1997
Executive Producer: Maurice White
Producer By: Maurice White & Sonny Emory
Kalimba International

1. Hypnofunk
2. Funky Swang
3. Scratch
4. In the Pocket
6. Steal My Beating Heart
7. Mo Go Go
8. Napoleon's Run
9. Tribal Phunk
10. Mimosa
11. Let Me Talk
12. Allah

The Love Element ~ Released 1998
Executive Producer: Sonny Emory
Producer By: Sonny Emory & Cara Fears
Recording Angels, Inc.

1. 7 Up
2. Inside Your Heart
3. I'm With U (Live in Session)
4. Pretenders
5. The Love Element Interlude
6. Every Lil' Bit
7. T/N/T
8. Hump (Live in Session)
9. Love (We can make it part of Life)
10. Hypnofunk (Live in Session)

ESP ~ Emory - Scott Project
Executive Producer: Sonny Emory
Producer By: Sonny Emory
Recording Angels, Inc.

1. Shining Star
2. E..S.P.
3. Love 2 U
4. Chanel
5. Paradise
6. Be Still My Beating Heart
7. Montreux
8. T-N-T
9. Peace

Yes, the above albums are receiving radio and internet radio airplay.



Sonny Emory is a native Atlantan who received his first drum set at the age of four. After graduating from Georgia State University with a Bachelor in Jazz Performance, Sonny began his transition to becoming a professional drummer playing with Joe Sample and the Crusaders. With over 20 years of live performance and studio work behind him, Sonny maintains a busy schedule in the music industry and is highly regarded in the business.

Though probably best known for his groundbreaking drumming with Earth, Wind, and Fire; Sonny has performed with a virtual "who's who" in pop, jazz, R&B/Funk, and country music including Stanley Clarke, David Sanborn, Bette Midler, Al Jarreau, Paula Abdul, Jean-Luc Ponty, Boz Scaggs, Ricky Skaggs. He is also known for innovative visual effects during live performances that include exciting stick-twirling and back-sticking techniques. As a World Renowned Drummer and Grammy Award Winner, Sonny is considered to be one of the greatest drummers to have come along in a while. His proficiency and style have awarded him the opportunity to record on platinum status albums such as the B52s' Cosmic Thing and Steely Dan's Grammy award winning Two Against Nature.

Sonny is equally in demand for studio work as for what's delivered during live performances. This former member of the legendary group Earth, Wind, and Fire held down the drum seat for thirteen years. Also, Sonny has additional credits that include Bruce Hornsby, Jennifer Lopez, and Lee Ritenour, to name a few. Sonny has performed as the headliner for opening night at the 28th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival and leads his own ultra funky progressive aggregation band, State of the Art formerly known as Hypnofunk.

Sonny believes that music is an essential ingredient to a well-rounded education. As a result to his commitment to young people, his endeavors are well-known throughout the Atlanta area. He recently received an 11Alive Community Service Award, a prestigious honor bestowed by a local television station. Sonny continues his commitment to young musicians by sponsoring a drumline makeover for his alma mater, Frederick Douglass High School and Nurturing the Gift Benefit concert to raise awareness to ensure music remains accessible to student musicians.

With a wealth of teaching experience, Sonny is committed to balancing academics and entertainment. He has served as an Adjunct Professor of Applied Percussion at Georgia State University and is currently working with his Alma Mater, Frederick Douglass High School to provide the marching band with new equipment. Additionally, Sonny teaches private lessons to assist students in developing their craft and setting long-term goals in order to be successful in their chosen musical endeavors.

Sonny has performed countless clinics and master classes in academic settings, drum stores, and during national music conferences, both independently and for his endorsers YAMAHA Drums, ZILDJIAN Cymbals. He has held clinics all over the world including Melbourne, Australia and is currently finalizing plans for the beginning phase of Emory Performing Arts Center through an annual drumset specialty music camp for drummers 11 years to adults. This camp provides an opportunity for campers to learn from leader drummers and percussionist in the music industry.

Sonny co-wrote the tune "Crusin", which can be heard on the score to Spike Lee's 1998 film "Get on the Bus". Also, he worked on the "Lethal Weapon II" soundtrack with Eric Clapton and David Sanborn. In 1996, Sonny released "Hypnofunk", a solo project produced by Earth, Wind and Fire's founder, Maurice White. His most recent and sixth solo project is entitled "Live in Session."

Sonny is endorsed by YAMAHA Drums, ZILDJIAN Cymbals and Drumsticks, REMO, Shure Microphones, Meyers Sound Systems, Toca Percussion, and LP Percussions.