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Curt Chambers: Eminem’s Guitarist and Solo Artist.

March 15, 2012

Text by Mercedes Jones. Image by G.W. Miller III.

It doesn’t get any saltier than Curt Chambers. He’s the perfect mixture of determination, undeniable talent and rock-star mentality.

Chambers was raised in Nicetown, a working class community in North Philadelphia. Both of his parents were singers and his father also played the bass. Chambers grew up spending weekends in a church that was heavy on blues music.

Chambers started with the drums, playing for hours every day after school.  When he got to high school, he began reading and writing music, which gave him the control and freedom to create his own sound.

The summer before he started college, Chambers and a few friends hooked up with producer Rich Nichols, who ran the career-launching weekly showcase, Black Lily.  After auditioning, Chambers and his friends were brought in as Black Lily’s house band.

For a young artist like Chambers, Black Lily was the perfect opportunity. He backed up  a wide array of neo-soul artists.

“It was a crash course at being a musician and an artist, while actually getting to work,” he says.

At the same time, however, Chambers was attending William Patterson University. He took classes in Newark, NJ, in the morning and drove to Philly for practice and gigs at night.

“My last month of college, it was like a train in back of me, pushing me forward, and a gate in front of me, holding me back,” he says. “By graduation time, I was literally pushing that gate down.”

Shortly after graduating, he went on the road as a guitarist for Eric Roberson, Floetry, Vivian Green, LL Cool J and Diddy.

“I was doing at least three tours at one time,” he says.

After touring for a few years, Chambers and his Philly friends formally came together as a band, Franklin Bridge, in 2005.  The group took on a bi-weekly residency at Manayunk’s Grape Street Pub. They developed a large following and played around with a few different sounds. Not long after Franklin Bridge started to gain momentum, the Fox Network’s The Next Great American Band launched.

Franklin Bridge, along with 6,000 other bands, auditioned for a chance to be on the show. The producers loved their video entry and flew them out to the West Coast to compete on the show. They appeared in five episodes but they were voted off the show after three rounds.

“The show was a great experience but moneywise, it was a sacrifice,” Chambers says. “A lot of us had been touring and working with artists.”

After the loss, the group decided to take some time off to pursue solo endeavors.

Nothing has slowed down for Chambers. He still tours, traveling the world with major artists like Eminem, Anthony Hamilton, Ledisi, Jaheim and Musiq Soulchild.

He was part of the team nominated for a Grammy in 2011 for his work on the Jaheim song, “Finding My Way Back.”

And in February, Chambers released his debut solo album, One Way Ticket. It delivers a blend of rock, hip hop, pop and soul, showing off Chambers’ trademark guitar playing, vocals and songwriting skills.

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