"Detroit has a deep and storied musical heritage, with a history deeply rooted in blues, soul, and R&B. The city has been home to legendary musicians like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Big Maceo, who helped shape the blues genre. This heritage has created a lasting connection between the people of Detroit and the blues, fostering a strong sense of pride and appreciation for the music."
Chris Canas: Detroit’s Prince Of The Blues
Chris Canas (aka Christopher Lenard Cottingham) is a new bluesman who continues the blues legacy of the Motor City, pumps new life into “The Blues” as well as embracing the roots of the past. Canas grew up loving music and played a number of instruments. Chris Canas “Detroit’s Prince Of The Blues” was born in July in the 1980's to Angela and Lenard. He has grown with music in his life whether it be his Mom singing to him or taking him to see Ray Charles at Hart Plaza or his Dad singing and dancing him to sleep as a kid. Music is part of his very soul and is the main reason he has grown into such a musical person today. His first true instrument was discovered when he chose a Coronet over all other instruments because he was too shy to speak up and claim the Saxophone in 5th grade. But he loved it nonetheless and treated it as if the sounds he could make were doubling as a musical release as well as a therapeutic one. He competed in the International Blues Challenge thrice, representing three different affiliates and was a finalist in his last attempt in 2020. (Chris Canas / Photos © by Amber Cross)
His new album DETROIT (2022) is an homage to the city’s rich history in blues and music. Recorded at Bigfoot Studios in Waterville, OH, owned by Grammy nominated recording engineer Travis Geiman, “DETROIT” is a roller coaster ride of emotion and versatility in the music we all know and love. Canas handles lead guitar and vocals and also adds slide and some bass. Derek “DC” Washington plays bass and Marc Anthony Guillory is on drums. Danny Pratt plays harp and Mike Biddle is on organ. Nikki “D” Brown is on lap steel, Ray Benson does percussion and the horn section is Travis Geiman (trombone), Ben Delong (trumpet) and Bob Manley (tenor sax). Chris’ taste, style, and emotion seamlessly flow from Blues Rock, Swamp Blues, Juke Joint Blues, Soul-infused Blues, Blues Ballads, and Funky Blues with ease. We hope you enjoy listening to this new evolved version of the Chris Canas Band. Peace, Love, & Rock And Roll.
How do you think that you have grown as an artist since you first started making music?
As an artist, I believe I have grown tremendously since I first started making music. When I began my musical journey, I had a passion for the blues, but I lacked technical skill and experience. Over the years, I have dedicated countless hours to honing my craft, both as a vocalist and as a guitarist.
One of the most significant areas of growth for me has been in my ability to connect with and convey emotions through my music. Blues is a genre deeply rooted in raw emotions, and as I've matured as an artist, I've become more adept at channeling my own experiences and feelings into my performances. This has allowed me to create a more authentic and heartfelt connection with my audience.
Additionally, my understanding of music theory and composition has expanded, enabling me to experiment with different chord progressions, melodies, and arrangements. I've become more adventurous in my songwriting, incorporating elements from various genres while maintaining the essence of the blues.
Another crucial aspect of my growth as an artist has been my stage presence and ability to engage with the audience. I've gained confidence and developed a charismatic presence on stage, which enhances the overall experience for both myself and the crowd. I've learned to read the energy of the room and adjust my performance, accordingly, creating a dynamic and memorable live show.
Overall, my growth as an artist has been a continuous journey of learning, practicing, and evolving. I remain committed to pushing my boundaries, exploring new musical territories, and sharing my love for the blues with listeners around the world.
"The music industry can be challenging and competitive. It's essential to develop a thick skin and maintain persistence in the face of obstacles. Rejections and setbacks are inevitable, but it's crucial to stay focused, keep pushing forward, and believe in your talent and vision." (Chris Canas: Entertainer, Photographer, Videographer, Graphic Designer, Multi instrumentalist / Photo © by Amber Cross)
What has remained the same about your music-making process?
While I have experienced growth and evolution as an artist, some fundamental elements of my music-making process have remained consistent.
First and foremost, my love and passion for the blues have remained unwavering. The blues is the core of my musical identity, and it continues to inspire and drive me. It serves as the foundation upon which I build my compositions, ensuring that the essence of the blues is always present in my music.
Another constant in my music-making process is the importance of authenticity. I strive to stay true to myself and my artistic vision, never compromising my integrity for the sake of commercial success or trends. This means being honest and sincere in my songwriting, drawing from personal experiences and emotions to create music that resonates with both myself and my audience.
Collaboration has also been a consistent element in my music-making process. While I have grown as a solo artist, I still value the power of collective creativity. Whether it's working with talented musicians in my band or collaborating with other artists, the collaborative process brings fresh perspectives, new ideas, and a sense of unity to my music.
Lastly, the importance of live performance has remained unchanged. The blues is a genre that thrives in a live setting, and I continue to prioritize delivering electrifying and soulful performances. The energy and connection I feel on stage are unparalleled, and I believe it's an essential part of sharing my music with the world.
In summary, my love for the blues, authenticity, collaboration, and the power of live performance have remained unwavering constants in my music-making process. While I continue to grow and evolve as an artist, these elements serve as the pillars that guide and shape my musical journey.
Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album ”Detroit” (2022)? (Chris Canas / Photo © by Amber Cross)
Absolutely! The making of the album "Detroit" was an exciting and memorable experience. One particular story that stands out is the recording of the album's title track. We had decided to record the song "Detroit" at a renowned studio in the heart of the city. We wanted to capture the essence of Detroit's rich musical history and pay homage to the blues roots that run deep in the city's veins.
On the day of the recording, we were all filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation. The studio had a fantastic vintage atmosphere, with walls adorned with photos of legendary musicians who had recorded there in the past. As we set up our gear and prepared to lay down the track, there was an undeniable energy in the room. The band members were in sync, and we were all on the same wavelength, ready to pour our hearts and souls into the music. Once we started playing, everything just clicked. The rhythm section held down a tight groove, the guitars wailed with emotion, and the keyboards added a soulful touch. I stepped up to the microphone, channeling the spirit of the city into my vocals.
What made the recording session even more special was the presence of a few veteran Detroit musicians who had dropped by the studio that day. They had heard about our project and wanted to lend their support and expertise. Their guidance and encouragement added an extra layer of authenticity and history to the recording. As we listened back to the final take, there was a collective sense of satisfaction and pride. The song "Detroit" had come to life, capturing the grit, resilience, and soul of the city in a way that felt genuine and powerful. The making of the album "Detroit" was a testament to the spirit of collaboration and the rich musical heritage of the city. It was a truly memorable experience that brought us closer together as a band and allowed us to create something that we hope resonates with listeners and pays tribute to the great blues tradition of Detroit.
Why do you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following in Detroit?
There are several reasons why blues music continues to generate a devoted following in Detroit:
In summary, the devotion to blues music in Detroit can be attributed to the city's rich musical heritage, the resilience and grit of its residents, a vibrant music scene, a sense of community, and the timeless and authentic nature of the blues. These factors combine to create an environment where the blues thrives and continues to captivate a dedicated following. (Chris Canas / Photo © by Amber Cross)
"In summary, my love for the blues, authenticity, collaboration, and the power of live performance have remained unwavering constants in my music-making process. While I continue to grow and evolve as an artist, these elements serve as the pillars that guide and shape my musical journey."
What moment changed your music life the most? What's been the highlights in your life and career so far?
One moment that truly changed my music life was when I had the opportunity to open for one of my musical idols at a major blues festival. It was a dream come true to share the stage with such a legendary artist and perform in front of a large audience. The experience not only validated my dedication to music but also gave me a tremendous boost of confidence and inspiration. It propelled me to push myself even further as an artist and pursue my musical career with even greater determination.
As for highlights in my life and career so far, there have been several memorable moments:
Each of these moments has contributed to shaping my music life and has provided me with invaluable experiences and lessons. They have fueled my passion, strengthened my resolve, and continue to inspire me to reach new heights in my musical journey.
"First and foremost, my love and passion for the blues have remained unwavering. The blues is the core of my musical identity, and it continues to inspire and drive me. It serves as the foundation upon which I build my compositions, ensuring that the essence of the blues is always present in my music." (Chris Canas continues the blues legacy of the Motor City / Photo © by Amber Cross)
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?
Through my experience in the music industry, I have learned several important lessons that have shaped my journey as a musician. Here are some of the most significant lessons I've learned:
These lessons have been instrumental in shaping my career as a musician and have helped me navigate the ever-changing music industry. They continue to guide me as I strive to grow, connect with audiences, and pursue my passion for creating blues music.
"As an artist, I believe I have grown tremendously since I first started making music. When I began my musical journey, I had a passion for the blues, but I lacked technical skill and experience. Over the years, I have dedicated countless hours to honing my craft, both as a vocalist and as a guitarist." (Chris Canas pumps new life into “The Blues” as well as embracing the roots of the past/ Photo © by Amber Cross)
What's the balance in music between technique skills and soul/emotions? Why is it important to preserve and spread the blues?
The balance between technical skills and soul/emotions in music is a delicate and crucial aspect of creating impactful and meaningful music. Both elements are essential and complement each other in different ways.
Technical skills provide the foundation for musicians to effectively express their emotions and ideas. It encompasses aspects such as instrumental proficiency, understanding music theory, and mastering various techniques. Technical skills allow musicians to articulate their musical vision with precision and clarity, enabling them to convey their emotions and stories with intention and finesse.
However, technique alone is not enough to create soul-stirring and memorable music. The soul and emotions infused into the music are what truly connect with listeners on a deep level. It's the raw vulnerability, passion, and authenticity in the performance that can move people, evoke emotions, and resonate with their own experiences. The soulful elements of music bring it to life, allowing it to transcend mere technical proficiency and touch the hearts of listeners.
Preserving and spreading the blues is important for several reasons:
In summary, the balance between technique skills and soul/emotions is essential in music. Preserving and spreading the blues is important for historical and cultural preservation, acknowledging its influence on other genres, providing emotional expression and connection, and honoring the pioneers and legends who have shaped the genre. By doing so, we ensure that the blues continues to inspire, enlighten, and touch the lives of people around the world.
(Chris Canas / Photos © by Amber Cross, All rights reserved)
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