About Itaal Shur

The freedom to compose and create a dynamic body of work is afforded to a special few artists of each generation, musicians who deftly coordinate the chemistry of exceptional talent and exceptional opportunity. Itaal Shur is one of these rare and free musical craftsmen, with a career that includes top-shelf status as a songwriter, producer, and a Grammy Award for Song of the Year for the multi-Platinum hit “Smooth,”, recorded by Carlos Santanna and Rob Thomas. Having experienced great success in the commercial music industry and the diverse array of opportunities that comes along with it, Shur has marked his career with the same innate eclecticism that marks his person. He is never just one thing. He fills several roles, in several styles and genres, and in this way his music is defined not by what he does, but who he is.

A left field guy who hits a home run in right field every once in a while, Shur found his music lust while growing up in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Cincinnati in a family where artistry was the norm and a desire to be a doctor or lawyer was black sheep territory. His composer father and choreographer mother set him to work learning Classical piano, but it was his brother teaching him to play blues piano at age 10 that cast the dye. “My brother would play on the left side of the keyboard and I would play on the right, and I learned how to just jam with someone and relate to them musically. From that point it was clear to me. I was only going to make music for the rest of my life.” Since then, he has pursued music first as something he loves, trusting that if the work was great, success would eventually result. He was right.

In addition to writing the music for the Grammy-winning “Smooth,” which has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and is the 2nd most successful song of all time on the Billboard Charts, Shur has composed and produced for several artists including Jewel, Ricky Martin, Maxwell, Lucy Woodward, Groove Collective, and most recently, himself. Feeling akin to fellow producer/performers like Todd Rundgren, Peter Gabriel, Daniel Lanois, and Beck, Shur has made his solo record debut with Beyond Tomorrow. Completely his from the ground up, Shur moved forward heart-first into Beyond Tomorrow, honoring his sense of artistic duty to maintain a rich, soulful experience in his music, and responding to his spiritual journey that led him to make this record at this time. “I had an emotional need to make this record,” says Shur. “After years of success in servicing the needs of the pop music market, it was time to create a record that expresses the deeper essence of who I am right now, and that’s what Beyond Tomorrow does for me. It’s an accurate account of who I am as a musician. It’s a telling of my daily emotional journey.” As such, Itaal and co-producer Eber Pinheiro conceived a collection of original songs that is desirous, effusive, and cool, mating the revelatory/contemplative/mysterious with the sexy/fun/provocative.

Location played a significant role in Beyond Tomorrow, with half of the instruments recorded in New York City and the others, most notably the piano, horns, and all vocals, recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Itaal’s love for bossa nova and the classic Brazilian music of the 60’s and 70’s led him to begin visiting Brazil in the early 2000’s, where he became fluent in Portuguese and developed a close bond with the country. The culture and sentiment of Brazil had a great influence, largely because in Brazil Shur has found a second home and a unique kind of creative openness. “There’s something about the freedom of recreating yourself in a new country. There’s little pretense for me in Brazil. I have another life there, friends, a community. Brazil was key in Beyond Tomorrow becoming what it is. It became my hope, my humor, and it set me free to be more open in the music.” The result is a current of sentient energy through the album, equally present in the deeply personal and unique color of “The Medicine” and “The Dark Side,” and the dirty-thack soul of “China Feet” and “You Got Something More.” For Shur, Beyond Tomorrow is a creative and personal triumph. His need for creative freedom led him to make a record about not being afraid to be yourself, and his spiritual journey set him free to turn demons into teachers and see the dark side not as a nightmare, but an adventure.

A man touched by freedom is a unique creature, and Itaal Shur is a poignant expression of this truth. With commercial success in one hand, and an original record made exactly the way he needed to make it in the other, he is satisfied, and he is open. “I don’t really understand happy, but I understand movement. As long as we keep moving, stay fluid, we have a chance to get through whatever we’re going through. That’s how I keep moving forward. That’s how I grow.”