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Jonny Lang


Jonny Lang rocketed out of his adopted hometown of Minneapolis at the age of 13, astonishing the world with his splashy guitar playing and a grizzled bluesman's voice that seemed to belong to someone five times his age. The tow-headed boy had dreamed big, obsessively learning how to play guitar, then convincing his parents that he should forgo school and take to the road. "My mom eventually was okay with it, and just told me to 'Be safe and call home a lot.'"

The risk paid off, and Lang quickly shot to the top of the blues charts, earning his first platinum record by the time he was sixteen for Lie To Me. He picked up his second platinum album for Wander This World in 1998 -- the same year he opened for the Rolling Stones. In 1999, he performed at Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura's inauguration, then traveled to the White House to perform for Clinton (where he presented the president with an autographed Fender Guitar). The next month he was personally invited to perform at Mick Jagger's 56th birthday party at the musician's estate in the South of France, where he jammed with Jagger, Bono, Elton John and Ron Wood. But then the wunderkind seemed to drop off the face of the earth, not releasing any more albums for five years.

Lang was not idle during that time. He gigged sporadically with the likes of B.B. King, Aerosmith, and Jeff Beck; got married to actress Haylie Johnson; quit his two-pack a day cigarette habit; gave up drinking; moved to Los Angeles; and all but turned his back on his beloved blues. When his third album, Long Time Coming, appeared in mid-2004, the musician was not only sampling Eminem, but had also cut down on his trademark guitar pyrotechnics and eliminated any blues laments. Instead, his songs now explored the space between rock and seductive soul.

"I'm not a blues singer," he explained unapologetically, "and I'm not really a blues writer either, or anything. I just feel like I love singing things that take a journey melodically." The journey this still-young musician is currently taking seems to follow a much more spiritual path. He not only became a committed Christian, but began penning lyrics for many of his own songs -- something he hadn't previously done, and something that made Long Time Coming a more coherent and fully-realized effort than his earlier albums.
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