Guitarist for Mary J. Blige of 18 years, Shonn Hinton shares journey and new R&B album.
By Antonio Perkins
Rex called him saying that Michael "Huggy" Carter - a Tour Production Consultant of MCG Productions, was about to call Shonn to come play for Mary J. Blige
Shonn Hinton, one of Milwaukee’s favorites, raised in Milwaukee and known by most for his 18 years so far, playing guitar for Mary J.Blige sat with Courtier House Thursday, January 26, 2023 where he discussed his back story with Courtier House and long time acquaintance, Xzavier Antonio, who is also another one of Milwaukee’s favorite vocalists.
The two dived into Shonn’s story about how the right relationships, the right timing and being the right talent had accelerated his career as a musician who has played with and for the likes of Kelly Price, David Hollister, Glenn Lewis, Mary J. Blige, & many more. Shonn’s talent has landed him on local & national television such as 106 & Park and Jay Leno. It took some motivation from his friends, but Shonn accepted the challenge and started singing as well, releasing his first album in 2013 with 5 projects to follow. This back story will be released in one of our featured stories following an exclusive listening party scheduled in Milwaukee.
On Saturday, February 4, 2023, you can join Milwaukee for free at the Happy Days Day Bar located in the Sherman Phoenix Center | 3536 W Fond Du Lac Ave, Milwaukee WI. The exclusive listening party will be held at 5pm. Hosted by Reggie Brown and Music spun by DJ TruStar.
Courtier House will be present with a QR code that only attendees can have access and this code will give attendees online access to listen to the entire album early, on Inmkeawards.com.
Look for Shonn’s backstory interview on February 5th. We are headlining his story as “Right Talent, Right Time.”
V100.7's and Milwaukee's favorite Program Director Reggie Brown sits with nationally recognized Performer from Milwaukee; Shonn Hinton
Shonn Hinton’s love for music started before he was born. Both his parents were musicians. His mother, a pianist and his father, a guitar player.
Shonn contributes his 18 year journey in the music industry as guitarist, for some of the most nationally known greats, to an introduction by Cornell Thigpen to Rex Hardy Jr. Cornell Thigpen, a musician known for jazz and also for being the musical director for Dave Hollister and Mary J. Blige introduced Shonn to Rex Hardy in 2002 who was another Chicago native. Rex Hardy Jr. started out on the Gospel scene and now both the Gospel & R&B/Soul Music Industries and was first recognized by many for playing drums in his grandfather's church when he was 5 years old.
Shonn had expressed to Rex that he too wanted to make a name for himself as a musician and artist in Chicago’s Gospel scene. He never imagined that, at what seemed like a accelerated rate, he would be able to play with artists including Mary J Blige, Jay Z, Kelly Price, Lil Wayne, John Legend and in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” play. That’s just to name a few career highlights. In fact, he wasn’t even convinced he would also be nationally recognized as a singer and songwriter either.
One day in 2002 Rex, who was on a Gospel tour with the Gospel group “Men of Standard,” called Shonn and asked him if he was available for a gig and told him, if so, he would need to be in Nashville, TN. Shonn immediately thought that Rex was referring to Shonn joining Rex on the Men of Standard tour but when Shonn started receiving texts and emails regarding Dave Hollister’s Tour, Shonn called Rex to say he thinks he’s getting the wrong tour information. Rex blew Shonn’s mind when he confirmed to Shonn, the gig is indeed for Dave Hollister.
When the job with Dave Hollister ended, Shonn was preparing to go home to look for another job because he had quit his job to tour with Dave Hollister. Before Shonn could leave, he was invited by the band to join them and Kelly Price on 106 and Park, a national television show. After that, Shonn went playing in the “New Life Gospel tour” with Byron Cage, Sound of Praise, New Direction, and more. When that tour was over, Shonn received the call that later would send his name ringing through his hometown, Milwaukee WI. and through the live performance music circles.
Rex called him again saying that Michael “Huggy” Carter - a Tour Production Consultant of MGC Productions, was about to call Shonn to come play for Mary J. Blige. Immediately after that call, Shonn went to New York with no back line, meaning he would have to bring or buy all his own equipment. He went directly to the music store when he arrived, payed for all his own instruments and equipment. From the Music Store he went directly to the rehearsal space where he would make his impression in front of Mary J Blige. Shonn stood up to the test; already having studied the music and the job was his! He continued his journey as Mary’s guitarist while also playing for more greats including Angie Stone, 112 on Jay Leno, Patti Labelle, and on the Heart of the City Tour with Mary & Jay Z., and many more including Jill Scott who is responsible for naming Shonn’s band, “Shotgun.”
The ART Album is performed, produced, and mostly written by Shonn Hinton. Other albums released by Shonn include “The Love Story,” an R&B album which was released in 2013 because while on a tour bus ride, other musicians playing with Shonn on tours were sharing original music with each other that they each had worked on. When Shonn played some of his work, many of the musicians encouraged him to release the music because the world needed to hear him.
Shonn released The Love Story, and followed with a EP instrumental; From Me To You & an instrumental Ablum; Happy Hour (2014). Every song on Happy Hour was creatively named after a drink. Shonn and his band Shotgun released two rock albums; Long Live ShotGun (2016) and Reloaded (2020). His most recent album release was another instrumental album; Aux Cord Chronicles (2021).
For the ART album(2023), Shonn returns with R&B. R&B is Shonn’s is the first genre Shonn fell in love with and as a performer he wont settle for being an artist that is boxed in to any one genre.
Shonn explained to Reggie Brown, A Program Director at IHeart Media, and long time voice of Milwaukee’s V.100 FM Radio, “this Art album has songs that reminds listeners of the warm and fuzzy moments of love, songs about intimacy and about the difficulties many experience in relationships.”
As Shonn was giving social media is sneak peak to the ART album on instagram, he started receiving inboxes and messages from industry contacts about how good the album sounds.
Among them, Rodney East another famous keyboard player from R’Kelly tours and for having played for Isley brothers. Rodney was congratulating Shonn on the new album before the album was even finished. Shonn, playfully but seriously asked Rodney to be on the album and Rodney said send him the files. In less than 36 hours, Rodney, like many others on the album, had quickly sent Shonn his instrumental contribution to the album.
The album has contributions from Jermaine Poindexter, Stephen Freemen, Monte Neuble, Devon _Stixx_ Taylor, Omar Edwards, onathan DuBose Jr., Alex Julien, Paul Jackson Jr., Rodney East, Chris Payton, Aaron Armour, Afton Johnson, Jeremiah Drippy, Jayy Sutton, Elijah Baker,, Slim Wav, Marcus Kincy, Paul Jones, B.A.M.,Zae, Quintin Gulledge, Lawrence Jones, Afton Johnson, & Rex Hardy Jr,
Video posted by Monte Neuble
Every contributor has an astounding record as performers and is known among famous musicians and famous performers. Among them is Jubu Smith - a guitarist who spent a decade with the Toniesbefore going on the road for a year and a half with Whitney Houston.
Juju also toured internationally for eight months every year with Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly, and he has countless recording sessions with the likes of Luther Vandross, Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men, Toni Braxton, George Duke and George Benson.
Jubu explained to Shonn that all the love and contributions he is getting from himself and fellow artists, is because he has they all really love and believe in him as musician, performer and overall just good person.
Among Shonn’s ambitions are winning a Grammy for one or more of his songs, to tour as a musician with artists like Taylor Swift, and to collaborate with Jasmine Sullivan, Jill Scott Brandy, & BJ the Chicago kid. Shonn also wants his career to open doors for musicians, performers and songwriters from his hometown, Milwaukee WI.
For a temporary time only, you can preview his album before it releases to all streaming platforms at www.Inmkeawards.com/ShonnHinton