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John's Biography

 


grandparents in 1922


daughter Monique

niece, Nannette

John DeRobertis was born in an Italian section of Harlem, New York on May 12th 1946 to Anthony and Nannette DeRobertis. By the time he was two he was singing. His mother, a wonderful jazz vocalist, was a big influence in his love of music and shaping of sounds. His father, a fine drummer, had an amazing sense of rhythm, and was a big influence in his understanding of space and time. His first memories of music were at family outings. John's family was very musical. He remembers always being amazed by his great uncles who were all excellent musicians. His Uncle Tommy played steel guitar with Sinatra, Roy was a jazz guitarist, Mike played harmonica, and Joe played piano, bass and guitar. His Uncle Joe would take him to work (he was a piano tuner) which always impressed John. Agnes, John's grandmother, was a piano player, and she loved playing the old songs of the early 1900s. There were a lot of great singalongs at the family gatherings.

By the time John was 10 he was singing on the streets of the East Bronx, where his family moved in the 50s. He loved singing a capella, rock and soul songs of the time such as "Earth Angel" and "In the Still of the Night." He sang with many groups on the streets and in the hallways in the 50s and early 60s. The Devotions were one of his favorite groups that he joined. They liked singing the songs of Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers because John had that high voice and young sound. He also sang with a group which was a little more sophisticated called The Vibes, who were influenced by local black groups and sang songs by The Flamingoes. The Vibes turned into a band called the 7 of Us, and later evolved into the NRBQ. The 7 of Us sang at all the popular clubs of the 60s opening up for Little Anthony, The Flamingoes, The Chambers Brothers, and (unknown at the time) Jimmy Hendrix.

In the late 60s John met friend and manager Shelly Finkle who convinced John that a hard rock group he was managing might be a good way to get out in the music world and become a little more well known. Being a white soul singer all his life it was difficult getting a record deal. John joined Hammer in 1969, and recorded on Bill Graham's new record label San Francisco Records, along with Tower of Power, and Cold Blood. Hammer had plenty of radio play and did well touring the country with Steve Winwood and Traffic. They also performed with Cat Stevens, Grand Funk Railroad, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, and many more of the top groups of the 60s.

In the 70s John felt the need to explore new venues and met his friend, composer, pianist Kirk Nurock. Kirk was experimenting with sound, and had started the Natural Sound Center. He asked John to be a part of it. Kirk would get grants and they would do a college tour and local radio appearances. Even though they were complete opposites -- Kirk being a Julliard graduate and classical pianist, composer, and John growing up singing on the streets of New York with no formal training -- they clicked immediately. They played loft gigs and concerts, like Carnegie Recital Hall, and the stage version of Mowgli which Kirk composed and where John performed the jazz, animal and eastern sounds. They also did many recordings together, most of them being too experimental and avant garde to appeal to record companies.

During that period (70s/80s) John felt the need to become more spiritual and moved to Woodstock, New York. The beauty and serenity of Woodstock was condusive to his exploration of spritual life. He kept singing, doing concerts and clubs in upstate newyork, and had his weekly local TV show. Then in 1978 he met his spiritual teacher and friend Daniel Castro, who became a great influence in John's life, helping him to understand the play of consciousness. Daniel was always pushing John to go deeper, to sing consciously from the mystery, to always be present, always true, and to see the divine in everything and everyone.

In 1994 John made a great leap and decided to leave the past behind, his friends, family, and New York. He moved to San Francisco to start over and didn't know anyone in the city. It was a struggle in the beginning, but he eventually met Raz Kennedy, an accomplished voice teacher and jazz vocalist, who helped John to find his first teaching job in San Francisco at Blue Bear School of American Music. John taught there for two years and influenced many young gifted, musical, and spiritual students. After leaving Blue Bear, his spiritual exploration inspired a new direction in music and life, building a foundation of conscious teaching called "The Power of Conscious Singing" which basically helps people find their true speaking and singing voice. It represents the heart that is prior to all that is arising, where the singer is transcended, and the singing is explored without fear and judgement, and for the joy and creativity of communicating consciousness and love... Namaste.


John & his mother in 1947


John with sisters Cookie & Patti and brother Michael.


great nephews
 
 


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