American singer-songwriter,multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actor and arranger Lenny Kravitz was born 26 May 1964. Kravitz began banging on pots and pans in the kitchen, playing them as drums at the age of three. At the age of five, he wanted to be a musician. He began playing the drums and soon added guitar. Kravitz grew up listening to the music his parents listened to: R&B, jazz,classical, opera, gospel, and blues. “My parents were very supportive of the fact that I loved music early on, and they took me to a lot of shows,” Kravitz said. Around the age of seven, he saw The Jackson 5 perform at Madison Square Garden, which became his favorite group.His father, who was also a jazz promoter, was friends with Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Short, Miles Davis and other jazz greats. Ellington even played “Happy Birthday” for him one year when he was about 5.
He was exposed to the soul music of Motown, Stax, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight, The Isley Brothers and Gamble and Huff growing up who were key influences on his musical style. Kravitz often went to see New York theater, where his mother worked. His mother encouraged his dreams of pursuing music.In 1974, the Kravitz family relocated to Los Angeles when Kravitz’s mother landed her role on The Jeffersons. At his mother’s urging, Kravitz joined the California Boys Choir for three years, where he performed a classical repertoire, and sang with the Metropolitan Opera. He took part in Mahler’s Third Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl. It was in Los Angeles that Kravitz was first introduced to rock music, listening to Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Cream, and The Who.”I was attracted to the cool style, the girls, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle,” Kravitz said. Kravitz’s other musical influences at the time included Fela Kuti, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye,Pharoah Sanders and Miles Davis; John Lennon and Bob Marley proved later to be influential as well.Kravitz attended Beverly Hills High School. Maria McKee, actor Nicolas Cage and musician Slash were his classmates. In 1978, Kravitz was accepted into the school’s well-respected music program. He taught himself to play piano and bass, and made friends with Zoro who would later become his long-time collaborator.
Kravitz wanted to be a session musician. He also appeared as an actor in television commercials during this time. Kravitz’ “retro” style incorporates elements of rock, soul, R&B, funk, reggae, hard rock, psychedelic, folk and ballads. In addition to singing lead and backing vocals, Kravitz often played all the guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and percussion himself when recording. So Kravitz decided to record an album on his own. Kravitz had met recording engineer/keyboardist/bassist Henry Hirsch in 1985 when recording a demo at his Hoboken, New Jerseyrecording studio. Kravitz released his début album Let Love Rule on September 6, 1989, a combination of rock and funk with a general 1960s vibe. Music critics were mixed: some felt Kravitz was a gifted new artist, others felt he was overpowered by his musical influences.
The album was a moderate success in the United States, but became an instant hit outside of the US, especially in Europe. Lisa Bonet directed the debut music video for the title track, “Let Love Rule.” Stephen Smith signed Kravitz with talent booking agency CAA, he was soon opening for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan and David Bowie. Kravitz also produced the song “Justify My Love” for Madonna, which he co-wrote with Ingrid Chavez. The song, which appeared on her greatest hits album The Immaculate Collection. .In 1991, Kravitz produced the self-titled album Vanessa Paradis for French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis. He also released his second album, Mama Said, which included Kravitz’s biggest single yet, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,”and the single “Always on the Run,” a tribute to his mother, featured Slash on guitar. “Stand By My Woman” and “What Goes Around Comes Around” followed.Sean Lennon co-wrote and played piano on the song “All I Ever Wanted”
In 1995, Lenny Kravitz released the album Circus, which went to number 10 on the Billboard chart on the back of his past achievement. However, the album only had two hit singles: “Rock and Roll Is Dead” and “Can’t Get You Off My Mind.”With 5 (1998), Kravitz embraced digital technology such as Pro Tools and samplers for the first time. 5 introduced his music to an even wider audience thanks to the hit single “Fly Away” being featured prominently in both car manufacturer and airline commercials. 5would reach number 28 on the Billboard 200, with “Fly Away” reaching number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 in the United Kingdom. He would win the first of his four consecutive Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1999.
Other hits from the album included “If You Can’t Say No”, that was also remixed by dance producer Brian Transeau, and “I Belong to You.” For the I Belong to You video Lenny can be seen without his signature dreadlocks. In 1999 he produced and sang with Cree Summer on her solo album Street Faerie.Kravitz worked on two songs for Michael Jackson’s Invincible album released in 2001; a snippet of “Another Day” has leaked, and the full version was officially released on the album Michael in 2010 .Kravitz released a Greatest Hits album in 2000. It proved to be his most successful album, reaching #2 on the Billboard 200 and selling nearly 11 million copies worldwide and ultimately becoming one of the most commercially successful albums of the decade. The single “Again” earned him his third consecutive Grammy for the Best Male Rock Vocal in the Grammy Awards of 2001 and peaked at number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Kravitz also co-wrote the song “God Gave Me Everything” with Mick Jagger in this period, appearing on Jagger’s 2001 solo album Goddess in the Doorway and in the film Being Mick.
On 2001, Kravitz released his sixth album Lenny and participated in a benefit auction for the Red Hot Organization, in conjunction with Amazon.com to increase public AIDS awareness, which ran from February 28 until April 11, 2001. The event featured rare RHO memorabilia and the work of Rolling Stone photographer Mark Seliger.In 1993, Kravitz wrote “Line Up” for Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and appeared on Mick Jagger’s solo album, Wandering Spirit, in a cover of the Bill Withers soul classic “Use Me”, and played guitar on the title track of David Bowie’s The Buddha of Suburbia. That year Kravitz also got to work with idols Al Green and Curtis Mayfield.In 1993, Are You Gonna Go My Way was released, reaching number 12 on the Billboard 200 and Kravitz earned a BRIT Award for best international male artist in 1994. The title track won a MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video for the video produced by Mark Romanek, in which Kravitz slung his dreadlocks and wore high-heeled platform boots.
During the presentation of the MTV Video Music Awards, he performed the song with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on bass. Several singles from the album would follow including, “Believe,” “Is There Any Love In Your Heart,” and “Heaven Help/Spinning Around Over You.” This album was the first to feature guitaristCraig Ross, who has also played on all his subsequent albums. One song, “Eleutheria,” was influenced by the island Eleuthera in The Bahamas where Kravitz built a house and recording studio. In 1993, he also released the EP Spinning Around Over You, which included four live tracks from his “Universal Love Tour”. A feature documentary about his 1994 tour entitled Alive From Planet Earth was directed by Doug Nichol and released.In 1994, Kravitz recorded a funk-rock version of the song “Deuce,” for the KISS cover album KISS My Ass: Classic KISS Regrooved. The track featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica and background vocals. This song was one of three radio singles from the album, and was also the album’s lead-off track.
Kravitz’s seventh album Baptism was released in May 2004. The first single was “Where Are We Runnin’?”. The single “California” failed to be commercially successful, but “Storm”, featuring Jay-Z, reached the charts. “Calling All Angels” was successful in various countries and a huge hit in Brazil, however it was “Lady” that became the album’s surprise hit, making the US Top 30 and propelling Baptism to gold status. He also appeared on N.E.R.D’s album Fly or Die. During 2005, Kravitz toured all over the world with the tour Electric Church, which ended at the Brixton Academy, London in July 2005. Kravitz toured alongside Aerosmith on their autumn 2005 tour, starting at the Mohegan Sun Arena inUncasville, Connecticut. The night before that tour started, October 29, 2005, Lenny’s father TV Producer Sy Kravitz died. During that first show, Lenny broke the news to the stunned crowd and stated it was not a time to be sad but rather a time to celebrate because he is now in Heaven. Lenny then dedicated Let Love Rule to his father. That tour was so successful that it was extended through February 25, 2006 and ended in Anaheim, California. In January 2006, Kravitz contributed “Breathe” to absoluttracks, a project sponsored by Absolut Vodka. Lately, Kravitz has founded a design firm named Kravitz Design, stating if he hadn’t been a musician he would have been a designer. Kravitz Design, focused on interior and furniture design, has designed residential spaces, as well as a chandelier for the crystal company Swarovski, named “Casino Royale”.
In 2007, Kravitz performed at the Brazilian leg of Live Earth in Rio de Janeiro, making him one of three major international rock stars to perform two huge free concerts at the world-famous Copacabana Beach along with Macy Gray and the Rolling Stones. Also in 2007, Kravitz released a version of “Cold Turkey” by John Lennon on the charity CD Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. Kravitz also spent time recording the album, It Is Time for a Love Revolution, released February 5, 2008. He also performed on the 2007, the Fats Domino tribute album “Goin’ Home ; A Tribute To Fats Domino” on the song “Whole Lotta Lovin’” along with Rebirth Brass Band, Troy “Trombone Shorty” On July 15, 2008, Lenny was honored in Milan, Italy with the key to the city in a special toast ceremony for his work with the United Nations Millennium Campaign to end world poverty. Kravitz’ next album, tentatively titled Funk, was tentatively re-titled Negrophilia Featuring the songs ”Stand”, “Super Love” “Come on Get It” and “Life Ain’t Never Been Better Than It Is Now” Eventually the album was later named Black and White America. On May 23, 2011, Lionsgate announced that Kravitz would be joining the cast and crew of The Hunger Games, as Katniss’ creative stylist, Cinna.
Kravitz has won many awards including the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002, breaking the record for most wins in that category as well as setting the record for most consecutive wins in one category by a male. He has been nominated for and won other awards, including American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Radio Music Awards, BRIT Awards and Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. On December 1, 2011, Kravitz was made an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He plays the role of Cinna in The Hunger Games film series. Kravitz was honored with one of the highest cultural awards in France when he was made an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by French cultural minister Frederic Mitterrand in Paris.