For The Love Of...,  Music

Looking at the careers of Bill Maxwell, Abraham Laboriel and Other Notable Session Musicians

Behind every famous singer are the many talented musicians backing them up. While those artists do get recognition for their work, it often pales in comparison to the amount of recognition lead singers enjoy. Studio recording artists, or session musicians, play the music for solo music artists and regularly play for multiple acts over the course of their music careers. They usually work for a respective studio and support anything from an album to a film score or commercial.

Artists like bassist Abraham Laboriel and drummer Bill Maxwell, members of the band Open Hands, have played for countless well and lesser known acts over decades in the music industry. Laboriel was born in Mexico City and is a classically trained guitarist, later switching to bass while studying at Berklee College of Music. He was a founding member of the bands Friendship and Koinonia. Laboriel has worked with George Benson, Don Felder, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Elton John, Keith Green, Lisa Loeb, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.

Bill Maxwell, meanwhile, is a drummer from Oklahoma with over 40 years experience in the music industry. He began playing drums professionally at age 12 and during his career has played in a number of jazz bands, working with artists such as the Crusaders, the Nappy Roots, Freddie Hubbard, Anita Baker, and Luther Vandross. He also served as the music director for The Jamie Foxx Show, Martin, Living Single, For Your Love, Amen, and many more.

Abraham Laboriel and Bill Maxwell also play often with another Koinonia member, guitarist Bill Hockensmith, who played in Neil Diamond’s band for 25 years. With Michiko Hill and Bill Cantos on piano/keys and special guest singers such as Tata Vega or Charlean Carmon, they have recorded hits like the Bass Walk, Up to the Mountain and Try a Little Tenderness.

The group have also played sessions at the Evergreen Stage, a Los Angeles’ recording studio with a long history. Formerly owned by DiaDan Holdings Ltd., the studio has hosted some of the greatest performers in musical history including: Frank Sinatra, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.

While our favorite singers excite and connect with us through their voice and stage presence, their music would be empty without the hard work of the often overlooked artists who support them.

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