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Label News (more headlines) 05-31-2014

Keyboardist Greg Manning Is The First Artist Signed To Legendary Earth, Wind & Fire Founder Maurice White's Newly Relauched Kalimba Music Label

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Growing up in Switzerland, keyboardist Greg Manning (www.greg-manning.com) recalls sitting in his living room with his parents, grooving along to their classic Earth, Wind & Fire albums. Now an emerging jazz performer, he is part of the musical legacy of the group's legendary founder Maurice White, who has signed Manning as the first artist on his newly re-launched Kalimba Music label (http://kalimba-music.com/).

A multi-talented musician emerging on the contemporary urban jazz scene, Manning is an exciting coup for White, who says, "I am really excited to go forward with this very accomplished artist, and to once again be involved in presenting new music to the public."

Previously best known for his nine year stint as touring keyboardist and musical director for South African-born, Grammy-nominated jazz/gospel singer/guitarist Jonathan Butler, Manning broke out in a big way last year with his debut instrumental single "Dance With You."

The track, featuring one of the genre's most popular saxophonists, Mindi Abair, was an across the board airplay smash, reaching #1 on the taste-making chart, The Smooth Jazz Top 20 with Allen Kepler. Kepler is the host of the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown on The Smooth Jazz Network, which designated "Dance With You" as Song of the Year for 2013.

Manning recently finished mastering his label debut Dance With You for a July 8, 2014 release. In addition to Manning's previous hit singles "Dance With You" and "Groove Me" (featuring saxman Elan Trotman), the 11-track collection will include the newly released track "Cruisin' Down The Road," which features the chart-topping saxophonist Vincent Ingala.

"I had recorded and released the two singles independently, and my radio promoters recommended me to Maurice and the other guys at Kalimba when they heard that they were going to re-launch the label," says Manning, who recorded one previous independent album, The Calling, in 2010.

"They heard and liked my singles and the pieces came together quickly. I wanted to make a fun project around the same vibe as those lead singles, focused on my soul-jazz-funk keyboard sound. It's amazing to have the opportunity to be involved with Maurice and have the support of him and his label. Thirty years ago I was in Switzerland wearing out all those EWF records, and now I'm here. It's all very surreal and exciting."

A native of Zurich, Switzerland, the multi-talented keyboardist studied piano and film scoring at Berklee College of Music in Boston before returning to his home country to establish himself as a composer and producer. He made his debut in the U.S. as the keyboardist for Brian McKnight's "Back At One" tour, then toured extensively with Butler.

Over the years, Manning has also performed with many top names in the genre, including Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, Will Downing, Richard Elliot, Eric Marienthal, Chante Moore and Kirk Whalum, among others. As a producer in the genre, he recently produced and mixed a project for Italian saxophonist Gianni Vancini, who returned the favor with an appearance on the keyboardist's new song "Phoenix Rise!"

From 2003-07, Manning served as the Musical Director for all seasons of MusicStar, the Swiss version of "American Idol." He is also a three-time certified platinum producer for Universal Music Switzerland and has written/produced several Swiss chart-toppers (Harry Hasler's "Saletti" and the MusicStar blockbuster "A Kiss Goodbye").

In addition, he is a credited film composer for U.S. feature films "Dead Lenny" and "Restraining Order." A popular TV composer, Manning worked closely with composer Jan Stevens and provided additional music for "Samantha Who" and "Scrubs." He arranged and performed on the song "Guy Love," which aired on an episode of "Scrubs" and received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

Manning's other scoring work includes the complete sound design for "Kampf der Chöre," which aired on Swiss TV in 2010; a national TV commercial for Zweifel Chips; three weekly shows on Swiss national TV (G&M, Traders and Gesundheit Heute); and finishing the highly acclaimed score for the newly released documentary by director Reto Caduff, "The Visual Language of Herbert Matter." He also wrapped up the "GODIVA - Real Love on Valentines" tour in Japan with Grammy winner Jody Watley.

Kalimba Music's first release is a re-mastered collector's edition of the Earth, Wind & Fire hit album The Promise, a critically acclaimed full length set which in its original run - after a six year studio recording hiatus by the band - hit #19 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #5 on the Top Independent Albums chart. It also scored a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "Hold Me." Kalimba is also making a multi-project foray into the contemporary urban jazz world, first with the release of the album's new single, "Never," to smooth jazz radio May 19.

"I'm really excited to be part of Kalimba Music and have the opportunity to receive worldwide exposure for my original music," says Manning. "With the new album, it's like I have given birth to something I love and now it's fun to see just how far it can go and how many people's lives I can touch."

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