Born and raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Rod Clemmons gravitated towards the piano at the tender age of three-years-old. Though he was born blind, Clemmons came from a very musically inclined family and he never let his disability hamper his love for music. Clemmons parents nurtured his gift from day one as he was taught by a faculty member at the local university where his father worked as a professor. Clemmons continued his musical training and general education attending the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock. Throughout his high school years he performed in several piano competitions, received numerous awards and even appeared on the popular local Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) musical program "The Minor Key,” hosted by the late jazz performer Art Porter.
After fielding several scholarship offers Clemmons decided to attend the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington Indiana where he continued studying classical piano performance, commercial studio arranging/production and singing. It was at IU that he began to excel to new heights as a musician. Clemmons was already an established piano player when he met Indiana University graduate and legendary keyboard player Isiah Sanders—the man who introduced him to the keyboard. As the story goes, Sanders was in Bloomington for a gig but had forgotten his keyboard. After befriending the young Clemmons, he borrowed his keyboard in exchange for a lesson. It was that chance meeting that would change Clemmons life. By helping out an alumnus Clemmons got an introduction to playing and arranging from the man who played for Stevie Wonder and contributed heavily to his hit album Hotter than July.
Clemmons graduated with honors from Indiana University before launching his career in pop music as a singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and producer. From there Clemmons moved to Louisville, Kentucky where he tasted his first success as a contemporary musician. He recorded a song he wrote called, "Trust My Love," which received heavy rotation on local R&B stations.
In 1988 Clemmons realized a lifelong dream by moving to New York City where he continued to be a sought after session player, vocal coach and background vocalist. As a vocal coach Clemmons has prepared singers to perform on Broadway in Hair Spray, Lion King and the national tour of Legally Blond.
While making his way up the ranks in the NYC music scene Clemmons joined progressive rock band Manhattan Project. After two years in the group he ventured out on his own and formed his independent production company and record label Verdict Records. Since forming the label Clemmons has produced several albums including R&B, pop, rock, contemporary gospel, contemporary Christian and children's music. His production work has not only earned Grammy consideration it has also been written up in Billboard Black Radio Exclusive and Friday Morning Quarterback magazines.
After years of producing and teaching others Clemmons is finally releasing his debut R&B album titled What's Up? It's Me. After sitting on the project for a number of years, Clemmons caught some inspiration from his 82-year-old mother who reminded him that “she has more years behind her than she has left on this earth” and she wants to see him finish the album. As all good sons do, Clemmons listened to his mother and even penned a Mother’s Day song for her titled “She’s My Girl” that will be featured on the album. The album is a collection of original material (plus a remake of James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind”) that borrows from the hip-hop school of production with lots of music and lyric colors. What's Up? It's Me is slated for an early September 2011 release.
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