VICTOR WOOTEN - Who is Victor
Lemonte Wooten? He is an innovator, composer, arranger, lecturer, producer,
vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. He is a skilled naturalist and teacher, a
published author, a magician, husband and father of four, and a five-time Grammy
award winner. But those gifts only begin to tell the tale of this Tennessee
Victor, known for his solo recordings and tours, and as a member of the
Grammy-winning super group, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, has won most every
major award given to a bass guitarist. He was voted Bassist of the year by Bass
Player Magazine three times and is the only person to have won the award more
The youngest sibling of the five amazing Wooten brothers (Regi, Roy, Rudy and
Joseph), Victor began playing music very early in life. Growing up in a military
family in which his older brothers all played and sang, Victor began his musical
journey under the tutelage of his oldest brother Regi. Realizing that the family
band would be complete if they had a bass player, ten-year-old Regi began
showing two-year-old Victor how to play. By the time he was 3, Victor was
performing neighborhood concerts with his brothers in the front yard of their
home in Hawaii. At age six, he was touring with his brothers as the opening band
for soul legend Curtis Mayfield. After living in Sacramento, CA a few years, the
family moved east where the Wooten Brothers continued to hone their skills
playing countless clubs and concerts along the east coast.
Victor was influenced by bass mentors, Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham and Bootsy
Collins, but cites his brothers and parents as his main influences. "In music
and in life, my parents and brothers were the foundation. They prepared me for
life by giving and teaching me love and honesty. They also taught me to keep my
mind open and learn to adapt to life’s ever-changing circumstances. Their
guidance has helped me stay grounded today." By the early ’80s, now living in
Newport News, Virginia, the brothers became mainstays at Busch Gardens theme
park in nearby Williamsburg.
Victor was hired as a bluegrass fiddler after older brother, Roy, convinced
Busch Gardens’ administrators that Victor could play. "I remember getting a
phone call from Roy. He told me that he’d gotten me a job playing fiddle. I’d
never played fiddle in my life. Roy asked me if I thought that I could learn to
do it. I said, ‘yeah.’ So, I borrowed a violin from my high school and learned a
few fiddle tunes. The people at Busch never knew. I worked there in the country
show for many years."
It was while working in the theme park that Victor and his brothers made
connections with musicians in Nashville and New York. In 1988 Victor moved to
Nashville, where he worked with singer Jonell Mosser and met New Grass Revival
banjo ace Béla Fleck. Later that same year, Fleck enlisted Vic, his brother Roy
(a.k.a. Future Man) and harmonica-playing keyboardist Howard Levy to perform
with him marking the birth of Flecktones. After three highly successful albums,
Levy departed in 1993. The band’s new trio format enabled Victor to develop and
display a staggering array of fingerboard skills that turned him into a bass
hero of epic proportions and helped earn the band their first Grammy.
With the Flecktones in full flight, Victor set his sights on a solo career,
first forming Bass Extremes with fellow low-end lord Steve Bailey (leading to an
instructional book/CD and two CDs, to date), and finally releasing his
critically-acclaimed and ground-breaking solo debut, A Show of Hands, on Compass
Records in 1996 (voted one of the most important bass recordings of all time).
Soon after, Victor took his solo show on the road with drummer J.D. Blair.
Momentum and accolades built with successive tours and the release of What Did
He Say? in 1997, the Grammy-nominated Yin-Yang in 1999, and the double CD, Live
In America in 2001.
Victor’s uncanny skills and growing popularity lead to recordings and
performances with artists such as Branford Marsalis, Mike Stern, Bruce Hornsby,
Chick Corea, Dave Matthews, Prince, Keb Mo, Gov’t Mule, Susan Tedeschi, Vital
Tech Tones (with Scott Henderson and Steve Smith), the Jaco Pastorius Word Of
Mouth Big Band, and the soundtrack of the Disney film Country Bears.
In 2005 Victor revisited his solo side with the release of Soul Circus (Vanguard
Records). A three-ring affair, the disc boasts such guests as the Wooten
brothers, Bootsy Collins, Arrested Development rapper/vocalist Speech, Howard
Levy, Dennis Chambers, Saundra Williams, J.D. Blair, Derico Watson, fellow
Flecktone Jeff Coffin, and a who’s-who of bassists, including Steve Bailey,
Oteil Burbridge, Will Lee, Rhonda Smith, Christian McBride, T.M. Stevens, Bill
Dickens, and Gary Grainger.
Palmystery (Heads Up Records), Victor’s latest solo work, showcases a wide array
of playing and writing skills with songs like Left, Right, and Center (featuring
three drummers all playing together), Miss U (featuring The Lee Boys), Us 2
(featuring Victor on slide bass along with blues man Keb Mo), and the thought
provoking I Saw God which boldly states "He look like me – She look like you."
(Featured in the movie The Moses Code)
Victor also spearheaded the idea for the super group SMV (Stanley Clarke, Marcus
Miller, Victor Wooten). Their new release, Thunder (Heads Up Records), as well
as the Thunder tour has quickly become a must-have, must-see product for people
all around the world.
Victor Wooten’s Bass/Nature Camp, now in its tenth year, has helped hundreds of
musicians of all ages from all corners of the world. The camp’s recent move to
its own location Wooten Woods will provide even more opportunities for Wooten
and his staff to share their lifelong experiences with others.
Continuing to grow as a person, artist, and teacher, Victor Wooten is always
willing to share his gifts with all who desire to learn. Offering CDs, DVDs,
lectures, workshops, and camps, as well as his groundbreaking novel The Music
Lesson (Berklee Publishing – a division of the Penguin Group) Victor Lemonte
Wooten is guaranteed to remain a positive force in the music industry.