No one can question Bob Power’s pedigree as a composer, producer, and engineer, whose fingerprints are all over some of the most iconic R&B, soul and hip hop classics of the past 30 years. Power started out studying music at Webster College in St. Louis, before devouring courses in music theory, composition, and conducting, and gaining his Masters in jazz in San Francisco. Scoring for TV and writing jingles for adverts supplemented his jazz gigs, but it was when he was asked to sit in and engineer the session for Stetsasonic at Calliope Studios in New York that proved the real breakthrough. It was quickly revealed that Power had a unique gift for translating the ideas of young rappers and aspiring producers into heavy hertz and sizzling frequencies, and he went on to work with A Tribe Called Quest, the Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, and Black Sheep, before taking charge of a production suite at Sony Music Studios in New York.
Power eventually went on to work with the cream of the ’90s soul, rap, and R&B nexus, including D’Angelo, Angie Stone, Common, The Roots and Erykah Badu, notably with the latter’s first single “On & On” and her double Grammy-winning Baduizm album. As well as his inestimable impact on hip hop and R&B, Power has also worked with such notable artists as Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, David Byrne, Me’Shell N’degéocello, and Chaka Khan. In this edited and condensed excerpt from his recent interview with RBMA Radio, Power speaks with Chairman Mao about some of his career highlights.