About Reggie Sears
Hailed by many in the music industry as a genius, prodigy, wunderkind and dubbed "the future" and crowned “The godson of Soul” by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Solomon Burke; said to be “naturally gifted” by award winning singer/songwriter & record producer Michael Sterling; a “gifted player” by Alternative Hip Hop pioneer G. Love; an “extraordinary talent” by the legendary Theodis Ealey, Reggie Sears has become known in industry circles as a multi-talented artist, producer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist musician, singer/songwriter and entertainer who, at age 24, is one of the youngest “veterans” in the music industry and seems to just be hitting his stride as an artist.
A former child-star, Sears was often cited as “child prodigy”, making his onstage debut as a professional musician at age 12, holding his own against some of the top guitarists in the world, and though he began as a precocious talent, he soon blossomed into a true artist, gifted guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, producer, vocalist and songwriter, honing his skills on the road performing night after night as a teenager.
His sound, a fusion of Urban music styles, draws influences from Soul, Contemporary R&B, Jazz, Funk, Rock, Blues, Hip Hop and Avant-Garde, creating a sound that is all his own. "Creative Loafing" described his sound as “kind of neo-traditional, tackling old favorites with a distinctly upbeat, contemporary feel.”
With a DIY(do it yourself) attitude, an awe-inspiring drive and simply a love of entertaining, Sears built a fan-base without the help of a major label, criss-crossing the United States as a teen playing festival, club and theater dates, both as a headliner and an opening act for a who’s-who of Blues and R&B royalty. Sharing the stage with Grammy Lifetime achievement awardees, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, Blues legends and guitar gods and earning respect and admiration from legends, peers, fans and media alike, he did this all before he reached the legal drinking age.
Born in April 1991 and raised in a ghetto in Ft. Lauderdale's inner city, the son of an African-American/Native American mother and a Caucasian father, Reggie is an example of the melting pot of culture that is South Florida. Instead of becoming a product of the streets, Reggie's love for music kept him out of trouble. “So many times throughout my life, no matter what was going on I had music to help get me through it. Music helped saved my life.” At the age of 4 he received a cassette tape of Phil Thornalley’s “Swamp” album from his grandmother and he immediately fell in love with music. Sears asked for a guitar at age 5 and got one for Christmas but didn't learn how to play. His interest shifted toward drums and received a drum kit for Christmas. “Music was always in me”, Sears states. “Ever since I could remember, it was all I wanted to do.”
He absorbed the hit songs of the day but his main interests were Soul music, Rock, Blues and Funk. “I listened to everything. Buddy Guy, The Cure, Parliament/Funkadelic, B.B. King, James Brown, Johnnie Taylor, The Offspring, Silkk The Shocker, Pink Floyd, The Isley Brothers, Lightning Hopkins, Tupac, Cheap Trick. Oh, the list goes on and on.”
At age 11, after receiving a Jimi Hendrix CD as a gift from a cousin he began taking guitar seriously, dedicating up to 8 or 9 hours every day practicing guitar. “I spent all my time playing, it was all I wanted to do”, Sears says. “Music gave me an outlet to express myself and I found joy and happiness in it.” At age 12 Reggie asked his dad to take him to a Blues jam at a local club and he soon began sitting in with local bands. Within a few months he was playing professionally. His love for music combined with his love of learning fused together and had Sears on his musical path.
Sears began gaining recognition as a young Blues prodigy and at the age of 12 years old was an invited special guest performer with the legendary Fruteland Jackson at the 17th annual Sound Advice Blues Festival earning rave reviews for his mature playing and he soon began sharing the stage alongside an impressive list of revered artists such as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees 'The Temptations', 'Solomon Burke', Lifetime achievement award-winner 'Pinetop Perkins', Blues hall-of-fame inductee 'Hubert Sumlin', Grammy award-winners 'Inner Circle' (of "Bad Boys" fame), Blues hall-of-fame inductees 'Charlie Musselwhite' & 'Bobby Rush', Rap pioneer 'Blowfly', and multi-platinum 'G. Love and Special Sauce' among many others.
In early 2004 Sears assembled a backing band consisting of veteran musicians and he began booking weekend shows anywhere he could play- local clubs, festivals, house parties, juke joints- building his name regionally, developing a small but loyal fan base and attracted the attention of several indie & major labels. By that summer he was working the Blues circuit practically every night.
Reggie's national debut album “Transitions”, a Jazz-Rock influenced collection of classic and obscure Blues covers was recorded live-in-the-studio and released in September 2005 when he was only 14 years old. During this time Sears enrolled in online school and began touring full-time in support of “Transitions” headlining notable venues such as The House of Blues- Orlando FL; Hard Rock Café-Miami, FL; Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas as well as a slew of music festivals. The “Transitions” tour was successful and earned rave reviews, including an article in ‘Rock River Times’ declaring “The kid from Florida proved he deserves his place on the national Blues scene.”
His 2nd album, the regional “Blues Power” was released in fall of 2006 but had little distribution and became a promo-only “mixtape” release. Comparisons to his heroes Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy thrilled Reggie but also inspired him to take a few months off to woodshed. “I was honored that folks thought I sounded like my heroes, even though I realize I’ll never be at their level. But I realized that I needed my own sound and identity.” Sears also taught himself how to play over 20 instruments and began learning music production. “I wanted to be more than a singer/songwriter and guitarist. I wanted to do anything that was related to music.”
In late 2006 Reggie moved to the Southern Soul genre with the release of his 3rd album, the scantily-distributed regional “Southern Soul, Florida Style” mixtape. The single “Back That Thang Up” got some airplay becoming a semi-successful single. Sears slowly built a fan base in the Southern Soul market by relentlessly touring the South’s so-called “Chittlin Circuit” of rural juke joints, ghetto bars, and Blues festivals and, his often suggestive lyrics and racy concert performances became an underground success across the South and audiences -- especially female ones -- flocked to see Sears in concert.
Due to record-label issues, his 4th album “Get Up On It” quietly dropped in summer 2007 with little recognition and no distribution and was pulled as an “official release”, although the album’s lead single “Dip My Dipper” helped Sears break out on the “Chittlin Circuit” and became his first hit single, hitting the top 10 on the international radio charts and Sears’ tour dates increased. While not on the road promoting his own music, Sears served as opening act, musical director and lead guitarist for Soul legend David Hudson as well as guitarist/bassist and musical director for The Godson of Soul Band. He also toured as a member of The Soul Generals (James Brown’s backing band) while writing and recording material for his follow-up album “Sweet Thang.”
By the end of the 2007 Reggie found himself in a state of depression and went on a hiatus at age 16 after a series of personal tragedies struck. “It was real rough”, Sears said. “People think just because you're successful and making money that everything is dope. That's not usually true. This industry is crazy and it can drive you crazy if you don't know how to handle it.”
He received encouragement from fans and musicians alike and Sears soldiered on, focusing mostly on production and songwriting. In the midst of musical hurdles and personal problems his 2nd “official” album- and major label debut- “Sweet Thang” was shelved in 2009 after label disputes and remains unreleased, despite several of the album’s singles doing well at radio. “I was so depressed. It was like everything I worked hard for was being taken. I didn’t know what to do” Sears laments. “Slowly but surely I lost everything. My personal life was in shambles, the hits had dried up, it became hard making ends meet and I had a lot of stress and pressure. I was 17 or 18. I didn’t know how to handle it.”
He eventually he turned his life over to God and got back into music. “God is amazing. He truly is. The reason I’m still here is because God gave me another chance. He gave me a reason to live.” Sears toured as an opening act and guitarist for R&B artist Fred Bolton and also began touring sporadically under his own name, editing the lyrics to many of his songs and cleaning up his stage show considerably. Although he was performing at smaller intimate venues, he was back to doing what he loved- touring and performing.
“My whole career, the industry never really showed me no love, most of the time people were trying to hold me back. I kinda’ had to find my own lane and push. God gave me talent, passion and determination and the support I’ve had from my family, friends and fans kept me going.”
The hard-work paid off though, as 2010 was a banner year for the young artist.
His self-released single “You Betrayed Me”, hit the Top 40 at radio and won Sears a 2011 Soul Patrol award for “Best Soul Song” while his follow-up single “I Can’t Find a Love” got airtime on R&B radio and resonated well with his fans, becoming a concert staple. He capped the year off with his most successful single to date- "Dirty Dancer"- which topped the Southern Soul, Blues and R&B radio charts, peaking at #1 and stayed in the Top 40 in many markets for over a year. Sears was nominated for Soul Blues Music Awards for "Best New Artist" in 2011. He also began collaborating more frequently. Sears collaborated with underground Rap star 'Black Zack', producing a few songs on Zack's "Southern Soul Radio" album. Sears' writing and production successfully mixed Hip Hop with Contemporary Blues and Southern Soul, earning rave reviews and the album’s main single “Southern Soul Lover” written & produced by Sears, became an international hit. Sears’ adopted a slick R&B sound for his next single, 2011's "Can't Get You out of My System" and was followed by "With Every Beat of My Heart", which became a Top 40 hit at radio.
Sears retreated back to the studio and began work on a new full-length solo project tentatively-titled “In The Midst Of A Pouring Rain” which was later changed to “A Season in Hell”. After 2 years and near-completion, the sessions became corrupt due to an unfortunate accident and he had to start fresh. During this time Sears had dedicated most of his time to church and preaching but continued performing locally while doing session work as well as developing and mentoring upcoming artists. In late 2013 he began work on yet another project, one that he aptly titled "So Many Roads”.
“I have changed so much since 2003 when I started”, Sears says. “For that matter, I’ve changed a whole lot since my last album. I have a wider perspective on life. I have been through a lot over the past few years, good and bad. The best way for me to deal with those issues is to write songs and make music.”
Reggie’s love, passion and hunger for music have kept him going, despite many devastating setbacks. Of course, encouragement from some of his musical idols and contemporaries doesn’t hurt, either. Reggie’s go-getter work-ethic and desire for music was perhaps best summed up by Grammy award-winning songwriter and producer Phil Thornalley who said that “Reggie’s enthusiasm is as infectious as his talent!”
Reggie Sears set out to accomplish one thing and that was to simply play and create music that reached an audience. And he did just that and so much more. And that was only the beginning.
He is poised and ready for a major breakout. “Music is what I know and what I love. I was born to do this.”