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Instrumentalist Johannes Linstead is not an easy artist to categorize. Some listeners have described the acoustic guitarist's ambitious, far-reaching albums as new age (although he is much more energetic than new age artists are typically known for being), and others have labeled him nuevo flamenco (that is, modern flamenco-pop rather than traditional straight-ahead flamenco). But while some of his acoustic guitar playing is, in fact, relevant to Spain's nuevo flamenco scene, the truth is that contemporary flamenco is only a part of what the unpredictable, highly eclectic Linstead does. If any one term best summarizes Linstead's diverse albums, it would be "world fusion." Linstead has been influenced not only by the music of Spain, but also by the music of Greece, Italy, Portugal, Cuba, Trinidad, Brazil, Peru, India, Morocco, and the Middle East. If anything ties Linstead's rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic influences together -- most of them, anyway -- it is the fact they tend to come from the world's warmer, sunnier climates. Linstead's work does not owe a lot to styles of music that originated in places known for their cold, harsh, snowy, dark winters; the parts of the world that have influenced him the most -- the Mediterranean, southwestern Europe, the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East, North Africa -- get plenty of sunlight. But ironically, Linstead is not from any of the sunny locations that have influenced his playing and composing -- he is actually a native and resident of Canada.
Linstead -- who has often been compared to Ottmar Liebert, Lara & Reyes, Jesse Cook, Armik, and Oscar Lopez -- brings a wide variety of influences to his recordings. Linstead's albums give the impression that the instrumentalist has been affected by everyone from Tomatito and Paco de Lucía (two of flamenco's greatest guitarists) and Greek icon Manos Hadjidakis to Brazilian guitarists like Egberto Gismonti and the late Laurindo Almeida. Linstead is not a jazz artist per se but can be mildly jazzy at times, demonstrating that he is well aware of Django Reinhardt's innovative gypsy swing as well as the fusion guitar playing of Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, and Return to Forever graduate Al DiMeola. That isn't to say that Linstead plays the acoustic guitar exclusively on-stage or in the studio; while the acoustic guitar is his primary instrument, Linstead also plays mandolin, violin, bass, acoustic piano, electric keyboards, various wooden flutes, and the bouzouki (a traditional Greek string instrument). And when it comes to picking sidemen for his albums and live performances, Linstead thrives on diversity; he is the type of multicultural artist who wouldn't hesitate to use Indian tabla drums and gypsy violin at the same time.
Sol Luna Tierra, Linstead's first album, was released by the independent Real Music in 1999; his subsequent Real Music releases included Kiss the Earth in 2000, Guitarra del Fuego in 2001, and Zabuca in 2003. Linstead's fifth album, Mediterranea, came out on Earthscape Music in 2004.
Johannes Linstead (also records under the name Sevaji) is an award-winning Canadian guitarist and instrumentalist who fuses virtuoso Spanish-style guitar with Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern, and Latin American percussion and instrumentation. In 2010, Linstead was named "World Artist of the Year" in the T.O.M.A Awards (The Ontario Music Awards), was the recipient of "Best World Album" and "Best Instrumental Album - Acoustic" in the ZMR Awards, and signed an influential artist endorsement deal with the Yamaha Corporation of America. Further accolades include being named "Guitarist of the Year" in the prestigious Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards (2007), two NAR Lifestyle Music Awards, a nomination for a Juno Award and others."Goes down easy". Postmedia News. July 6, 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
Johannes Linstead began studying guitar at age eight, when he was given a guitar for his birthday. As he progressed, he gravitated to the classical guitar; the only music he was exposed to as a child. In his teens, however, he also developed a love for other styles, such as rock, flamenco, and jazz. Popular composers and guitarists which have impacted Linstead as a musician include Sor, Tarrega, Giuliani, Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jorge Strunz, Sabicas, Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Angel Romero.
In high school he joined the school's jazz band and won the "Musician of the Year" award - the first of many awards and recognitions he has since earned.
Further influences in his music come from travel across the globe, including India, Bahrain, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, and at least two dozen others.
Linstead has studied Hung Gar Kung Fu with Dr. Jopet Laraya and practices Qi Gong, having studied with renown master Weizhou Wu, in an effort to live a holistic life.
In an effort to deepen his spiritual practice Linstead began studying Kundalini yoga in 2001 and became a KRI certified instructor. Linstead was bestowed the name Seva Singh or "Lion of Devotional Service" by Kundalini yoga master Yogi Bhajan. The name Sevara is derived from "Seva" meaning devotional service, and "Ra", the sun aspect which corresponds to his astrological sign. Having become a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, he teaches whenever his tour schedule permits.
In the autumn 2006, Linstead contributed his song "Journey To Alcazaba" to the album project Artists for Charity - Guitarists 4 the Kids, produced by Slang Productions, to assist World Vision Canada in helping underprivileged kids in need.
In the winter of 2006, Johannes founded Divine Earth, an online humanitarian community where members post information about spirituality, health, and world politics. The philosophy of Divine Earth is that in order to attain a happier and healthy world we must first understand what substandard conditions exist that undermine the individual's ability to find inner peace."Johannes Linstead Interview". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. October 16, 2005. Retrieved March 9, 2013. "Johannes Linstead Fave 5 Record Reviews". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2013. "Awards". Retrieved 2012-08-30. "Slang Productions - Guitarists 4 the Kids". Slang Productions. September 11, 2006. Retrieved March 30, 2014.
Selected recordingsTales of a Gypsy (2012) #1 on eMusic.com Flamenco/Tango charts; nominated for 3 ZMR Music Awards.Mistico (2009) #1 on eMusic.com World Music and Jazz/Blues charts; winner of "Best World Album" and "Best Instrumental Album - Acoustic" in the ZMR Awards,Encanto (Johannes Linstead and Nicholas Gunn) (2007) ranked #6 on Billboard's New Age Chart, 3 nominations in the NAR Lifestyle Music awards, nominated "Best Latin Album" in the IAP Awards.Cafe Tropical (2006) ranked #4 on Billboard's New Age chart, #1 on eMusic.com World Music chart, winner "Best Music" from Best Magazine, JUNO nominated for "Best Instrumental Album".Mediterranea (2004), ranked in the Top Ten on Billboard's New Age chart, reaching the #6 position and won "Best World Album" in the NAR Lifestyle Music Awards.Zabuca (2003), ranked Top Ten, and charted for 34 weeks. The song "Eleni" from this album was heard as part of Switzerland's Stéphane Lambiel's performance in the 2004 World Figure Skating Championships.Guitarra del Fuego (2001) was named "Best Contemporary World Album" by NAV Magazine, charting on Billboard for 36 weeks.Kiss the Earth (2000)Sol Luna Tierra (1999)
JUNO Awards Nominations
2007: Instrumental Album of the Year: Café Tropical, Nominated: Johannes Linstead