“EVERY TIME I DREAM SOMETHING up, it’s so small compared to what actually happens,” says singer/songwriter Christina Perri. “Because what actually happens is just amazing.”

As an unsigned artist, Christina once dreamed of making a career out of performing and recording her deeply personal yet pop-friendly songs. Then one day four years ago, one of her recordings was featured on the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance, and suddenly she stopped dreaming the dream—and began living it.
FOR MANY MUSICIANS, LOSING a fingertip would be a career-ending nightmare. But the childhood accident that claimed Abe Laboriel, Sr.’s most important fretting finger didn’t prevent him from becoming one of the most successful session bassists in history. If anything, the injury contributed to the unique style that has captured the ears of countless artists, including Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, and Madonna. And that’s Laboriel anchoring “Let It Go” from the Frozen soundtrack, currently topping charts worldwide.
WHAT YOUNG MUSICIAN hasn’t fantasized about nailing that big-time audition, cutting a hit album, and embarking on a glamorous world tour? The thing is, those fantasies rarely include the stresses of such situations, like having to prepare for a high-profile gig on absurdly short notice.
LIKE MANY YOUNG BRITISH musicians who came of age in the ’60s, Chris Stainton became infatuated with African-American blues and R&B. Such musical conversions weren’t rare for players of that generation, but Stainton’s career longevity is. Fifty years on, he still plays the blues with the passion he felt then—often as keyboardist for singer/guitarist Eric Clapton.
HOW DOES A PIANIST REARED on gospel and trained in jazz and classical wind up playing keyboards for top rap and R&B acts like Eminem and Rihanna?
IMAGINE BEING ASKED TO AUDITION for a mysterious but high-level “secret project.” When keyboardist Victoria Theodore got that call, she balanced her natural curiosity with a bit of caution.
GRAHAM NASH’S SOARING VOICE AND heartfelt songs have touched our souls for half a century. One of just a handful of artists inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than once, Nash began his long career with the Hollies during the early-’60s British Invasion. After contributing to such hits as “Bus Stop” and “Carrie Anne,” he quit in 1968 and promptly created a string of era-defining albums with frequent collaborators David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young. He’s also issued many fine solo albums, from 1971’s Songs for Beginners to 2002’s Songs for Survivors. Nash has also left his mark as a champion for human rights causes, and as a highly respected photographer. He spoke to us recently from his home in Hawaii.
IT’S HARD TO OVERSTATE Slayer’s impact on modern metal. But last year’s death of founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman left many wondering whether the band’s 30-year-reign had ended—especially since they’d recently parted ways with original drummer Dave Lombardo.
BRAZILIAN-BORN PIANIST AND BANDLEADER Sérgio Mendes has captivated listeners internationally through five-and-a-half decades of live shows and more than 40 records. He made his U.S. debut as part of a legendary 1962 bossa nova concert at Carnegie Hall, then achieved worldwide pop fame with the smooth sounds of Brasil ’66. And he’s continued to reinvent himself musically with releases such as 2006’s Timeless, which features collaborations with the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, India.Arie, and others.
SOME MUSICIANS REALLY LIKE to work. Take guitarist Tariqh Akoni: In his career to date, he’s performed with artists as diverse as Chaka Khan, LeAnn Rimes, George Duke, the Backstreet Boys, Whitney Houston, and Tom Scott. He’s played in the house band on American Idol, appeared on Saturday Night Live with Christina Aguilera, and recorded with Smokey Robinson.