“That's the big payoff. To walk on stage every night and watch the fans sing along. It's total fulfillment. It's what playing music is all about.” Kenny Wayne Shepherd on live performing
American blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd was shot to prominence with his debut album “Ledbetter Heights” (1995), which was certified gold by RIAA. He gained further commercial success with the platinum selling “Trouble is... “ (1998), from which he picked up a Grammy nomination for its impressive title track and “Lived On” (1999). Shepherd, however, did not step forward as a vocalist until the 2004 “The Place You're In” album. A DVD called “10 Days Out: Blues From The Back Roads” hit the marketplace in 2007 and went on to become a No. 1 hit on the Top Blues Albums chart. Shepherd's album and accompanying documentary also won two Grammy nominations and a 2008 Blues Music nomination.
Apart from his career as a successful recording artist, Shepherd, who has been influenced by (and has sometimes played with) guitarists Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, Duane Allman, Albert King and Slash, is also an incendiary live performer, a reputation he received through an international tour with famous artists like B.B. King, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Herbie Hancock, among others.
For his contribution to music, Kenny has been honored by the Gibson Guitar Corporation with the prestigious Orville H. Gibson Guitar Award in 1998 and 2001. In addition, the Martin Guitar Company published its Kenny Wayne Shepherd Limited Edition Signature model JC-16KWS in honor of his 1998 hit “Blue On Black.” Shepherd has also received Billboard Music Awards, Grammy nominations and the 2008 Keeping the Blues Alive award from The Blues Foundation.
As for his private life, Shepherd has been married twice. He married high school sweetheart Melissa Abcock in 2000, but they later divorced. He is now the husband of Mel Gibson's daughter, Hannah Gibson, whom he married in 2006.
Childhood and Family:
Kenny Wayne Shepherd was born Kenny Wayne Brobst, Jr. on June 12, 1977, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was educated at Caddo Magnet High School in Shreveport. Kenny received his first guitar when he was 7. He learned how to play through Muddy Waters music from his father's record collection. Six years later, Kenny was invited on stage by Jump Street Five blues group guitarist Bryan Lee.
In 2000, Kenny married his girlfriend Melissa Abcock, whom he had dated since 1994. The marriage, however, failed two years later. Kenny married Hannah Gibson on September 16, 2006, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Agoura Hills, California. His wife is the daughter of actor Mel Gibson and Robyn Moore.
10 Days Out
Growing up on blues music, Kenny Wayne Shepherd began playing guitar when he was seven years old. He made his live performance debut when he was 13, along with New Orleans bluesman Brian Lee. Subsequently, Shepherd knew he wanted to pursue a career in music.
Shepherd formed his own band with Corey Sterling as lead singer and experienced early success in clubs and radio conventions. With the help of his father, he eventually signed a record deal with Irving Azoff's Giant Records and released his debut album, “Ledbetter Heights,” in 1995. The album, whose tracks reflected a love of rock and roll and Shepherd's intense appreciation for Chicago, Texas and Delta blues, went to No. 1 on the Billboard blues chart and stayed there for five months. An instant success, “Ledbetter Heights” sold more than 500,000 pieces by early 1996, an impressive achievement for an 18 year old musician.
Shepherd’s sophomore effort, “Trouble Is...,” was released in 1998. Showing more maturity with some strong tracks of punchy blues, including the No. 1 hit radio singles “Blue on Black,” “Slow Ride” and "Somehow, Somewhere, Someway,” the album became Billboard's Blues Album of the Year (1999), earning him a reputation as a platinum selling artist. Its title track won Shepherd a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance. He followed it up with the bestseller “Live On” in 1999. Singer Noah Hunt sang lead vocals on these two albums.
Shepherd headed to Los Angeles in 2000 and quickly returned to work writing new material and developing his vocal talents. After eight months or more, he came out as a vocalist. “The Place You're In,” a first album in which he did the majority of the lead vocals, was launched in 2004 under his new label Reprise Records. When asked why he did not sang on his previous three albums, he stated, “I sang on a few tracks on my earlier albums, but I was a lot younger then and the voice I was hearing in the vocal booth wasn't the same one I was hearing in my head. My songs have always been highly personal, but the last thing I wanted to do was sacrifice my sound for the sake of singing lead vocals. It just took a while for them to match up.”
Now a major force in blues music, Shepherd has toured with fellow blues artist like Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy and Pinetop Perkins. In addition, he has performed on stage with such big names as the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, the Eagles, Bob Dylan, Van Halen, B.B. King, Les Paul, Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, Steve Lukather, Herbie Hancock, Tommy Emmanuel and Derek Trucks.
Shepherd released “10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads” in 2007. The critically acclaimed CD/DVD peaked at No. 1 on the Top Blues Albums chart and earned Shepherd Grammy nominations for Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Long Form Music Video and a 2008 Blues Music nomination for Best DVD. Shepherd also receive the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award from The Blues Foundation in 2008.
The Blues Foundation: Keeping the Blue Alive, 2008
Orville H. Gibson Guitar: 1998, 2001
Billboard Music Awards