Raul Midon talks persistence and culture

Raul Midon - Photo Courtesy of The Bloom Effect
Raul Midon – Photo Courtesy of The Bloom Effect

Raul Midon is an accomplished musician and natural born performer. Listening to his music gives you an opportunity to dwell inside of the mind of a genius. His expression is musical and his dexterity is mind blowing. We spoke with Midon about his music, his upcoming project Bad Ass and Blind and his artistry.

I just watched your rendition of “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane and it was mind blowing. Talk about what that song means to you and why you chose it.

“Giant Steps” is an exercise that John Coltrane wrote. I play it every day as an exercise, some people think it’s cool so we decided to record it. It was casual and spontaneous when we recorded it. I was on tour with Ravi Coltrane at the time and he said he thought it was cool.  That was pretty rewarding.

How do you think the fact that you are blind contributes to your artistry?

Of course one could say it contributes nothing or it is the reason for everything.  Hard to answer since I’ve never seen.

You have collaborated with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Snoop Dog. What do you think allows your sound to cross genres so seamlessly?

Stevie Wonder played on my record as a guest and I played on Snoop’s as a guest. I don’t think it’s crossing genres but just doing my best in whatever setting I’m in. When I started out I had an interest in many different forms of music and played them all, pop, jazz, latin etc. Maybe that’s the reason.

How has your cultural background informed your music?

I was raised by an Argentine Father who was a professional dancer who lived in New Mexico and my Mother was African American so I think it greatly influenced me. I was surrounded by the greatest jazz, flamenco, and classical music available to me.  

What can we expect from a Raul Midon show?

I am known for multi-tasking a bit, whether it’s bongoes, guitar and voice, improv and some people tell me my stories are pretty funny and inspiring.  I will always deliver my best!

Talk about the new release you have dropping in 2017. How is it different from your other releases?

The renowned producer Arif Mardin taught me to be myself and follow through on that. So this isn’t different but there are some collaborations with very high level jazz musicians on it, like Nicholas Payton and Gerald Clayton. There are some modal tunes and a piece with a great French pianist Jean Philippe Rykiel and then a cover of a Steve Miller tune, ‘Fly Like An Eagle’ that I’m really proud of.

What words do you have for the individual who may feel stumped by obstacles while following their dreams?

I struggle every day with the things life puts in our paths, but the one thing that is a truth is, persistence pays off.

Midon will be at the City Winery in Chicago on September 13th. See website for details.


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