Draft:Steven Walker (sound engineer)

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  • Symbol opinion vote.svg Comment: Article mostly relies on AllMusic and Discogs, rather than anything else Mjs1991 (talk) 05:50, 17 June 2019 (UTC)

‘’’Steven “Akili” Walker’’’ is a New York-based audio engineer best known for his work during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties on behalf of a wide range of musicians, including notable figures in rock, rap, funk, gospel, calypso, and jazz. In a story for the New York Times, David Gonzalez described Walker as “an Oz of audio,” [who] “could tweak a song working behind a huge mixing board in a recording studio for perfectionists like Prince, or get 30,000 people at an LL Cool J concert to throw their hands in the air.”.[1]

Early Life[edit]

Steven Walker was born in Freeport, New York on November 27 1954. The son of a music-loving father, Walker took up the drums at an early age and became a member of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians as a 13-year-old. He started working as an audio engineer while still in his teens. Walker received his African name, Akili, which means intelligent in Swahili, as a member of the East Cultural Center in Brooklyn.

Career[edit]

In the Studio and on the Road[edit]

Over the years, Walker has worked in the studio with acts as various as James Brown[2], Charles Earland, Jimmy Cliff[3], Urszula Dudziak[4], The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir[5], and Humble Pie.[6]

A prodigious free-lancer who claimed at one time to have engineered sessions at over 80 percent of New York’s recording studios, Walker was also a staff engineer at Music Farm/Sound Works (1979/80), Quadrasonic Sound/Quad Recording Studios (1981-1984), and Rawlston Recording Studio (1984-1992).[7]

Occasionally, Walker has also engineered the sound on live concert tours, including for such artists as Lonnie Liston Smith, Gil Scott-Heron, The Jimmy Castor Bunch, and Whodini.

Early Rap Recordings[edit]

Between 1983 and 1993, Walker engineered a number of important early rap recordings, most of them produced by shifting combinations of his friends and associates Russell Simmons, Kurtis Blow, and Larry Smith. The earliest were Jimmy Spicer’s “Money (Dollar Bill Y’All)” and Lovebug Starski’s ”You Gotta Believe” in 1983. He went on to engineer The Fat Boys’ “The Fat Boys Are Back,” Kurtis Blow’s “America”[8] and Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde’s “The Champagne of Rap,”[9] all in 1985. In ’91, Walker worked on Whodini’s ”Bag-a-Trix.”[10] Two years later he helped to engineer Onyx’s “Bacdafucup,”[11] the group’s debut album.

With Lester Bowie and the Art Ensemble of Chicago[edit]

Walker engineered five albums over a 15-year span for avant-garde trumpeter and composer Lester Bowie and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. They include two titles for Bowie’s Brass Fantasy ensemble -- “I Only Have Eyes for You” (1985)[12] and “Twilight Dreams” (1987) -- two titles with the Art Ensemble -- “Ancient to the Future” (1987)[13] and “Naked” (2000)[14] – and a solo album by Bowie entitled “Works” (1989).[15]

At Rawlston Recording Studio with the Mighty Sparrow[edit]

Walker has been affiliated with Rawlston Charles, founder and proprietor of the calypso record label called Charlie’s Records, since the late Seventies. In a documentary film entitled “Charlie’s Records” -- produced by Tina Charles, Rawlston’s daughter, and released in 2019 -- the entrepreneur credits Walker by name for helping him to design the studio that opened to the public as Rawlston Recording in 1984.[16]

Among the dozens of dates subsequently engineered by Walker at Rawlston are a significant number by The Mighty Sparrow, the singer widely regarded as “The Calypso King of the World.” They include ”Let the Music Play” (1990)[17], “Salvation” (1993)[18], “Dancing Shoes” (1993)[19], “The Renaissance” (1996)[20], “The Supreme Serenader” (1998)[21], “Soca Lover” (1999)[22], ”Wanted: Dead or Alive (God Bless America)” (2000)[23], and “Man In De Bedroom” (2002)[24]

Also, Walker was filmed at Rawlston while engineering Sparrow’s recording of “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” for “Jingle Bell Rocks,” Mitchell Kezin’s 2013 documentary about obsessive collectors of Christmas music.

"Turn The Horns On"[edit]

Walker published his autobiography in 2013. It is entitled ‘’Turn the Horns On.’’[25]

References[edit]

Citations

  1. ^ ”For a Master of Sound, the Beat Goes On,” October 13, 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/14/nyregion/for-a-master-of-sound-the-beat-goes-on.html
  2. ^ ”Live in New York”, Credits, https://www.discogs.com/James-Brown-Live-In-New-York/release/2438450
  3. ^ ”Cliff Hanger,” Credits, https://www.discogs.com/Jimmy-Cliff-Cliff-Hanger/release/1397925
  4. ^ ”Future Talk,” https://www.discogs.com/Urszula-Dudziak-Future-Talk/release/4957145
  5. ^ ”So In Love!” Credits, https://www.discogs.com/The-Brooklyn-Tabernacle-Choir-So-In-Love/release/7886352
  6. ^ ”On To Victory,” Credits, https://www.discogs.com/Humble-Pie-On-To-Victory/release/1542754
  7. ^ Engineers, https://www.discogs.com/label/305490-Rawlston-Recording-Studio-Brooklyn
  8. ^ "Kurtis Blow - Kingdom Blow".
  9. ^ Credits, https://www.discogs.com/Dr-Jeckyll-Mr-Hyde-The-Champagne-Of-Rap/release/141342
  10. ^ "Whodini - Bag - A - Trix".
  11. ^ "Onyx - Bacdafucup".
  12. ^ "Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy - I Only Have Eyes for You".
  13. ^ "Art Ensemble of Chicago* - Ancient to the Future: Dreaming of the Masters Series Vol.1".
  14. ^ "Naked - the Art Ensemble of Chicago | Credits".
  15. ^ "Lester Bowie - Works".
  16. ^ ”Charlie’s Records,” Cast & Credits, https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/charlie-s-records-2019
  17. ^ "Mighty Sparrow - Let the Music Play".
  18. ^ "Salvation - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  19. ^ "Dancing Shoes - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  20. ^ "Renaissance - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  21. ^ "The Supreme Serenader - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  22. ^ "The Mighty Sparrow* - Soca Lover".
  23. ^ "Wanted: Dead or Alive (God Bless America) - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  24. ^ "Man in de Bedroom - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  25. ^ Walker, Akili (June 2013). Turn the Horns on. ISBN 0615822460.

External Links[edit]

  • [1], Akili Walker page on discogs.com
  • [2], Akili Walker page on allmusic.com
  • [3], Walker’s website

Steven "Akili" Walker[edit]

‘’’Steven “Akili” Walker’’’ is a New York-based audio engineer best known for his work during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties on behalf of a wide range of musicians, including notable figures in rock, rap, funk, gospel, calypso, and jazz. In a story for the New York Times, David Gonzalez described Walker as “an Oz of audio,” [who] “could tweak a song working behind a huge mixing board in a recording studio for perfectionists like Prince, or get 30,000 people at an LL Cool J concert to throw their hands in the air.”[1]


Early Life[edit]

Steven Walker was born in Freeport, New York on November 27, 1954. The son of a music-loving father, Walker took up the drums at an early age and became a member of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians at the age of 13. He started working as an audio engineer while still in his teens. Walker received his African name, Akili, which means intelligent in Swahili, as a member of the East Cultural Center in Brooklyn.

Career[edit]

In the Studio and on the Road[edit]

Over the years, Walker has worked in the studio with acts as various as Bootsy Collins[2],Humble Pie[3],Ahmad Jamal[4] Jimmy Cliff, Urszula Dudziak, and The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

A prodigious free-lancer who claimed at one time to have engineered sessions at over 80 percent of New York’s recording studios, Walker was also a staff engineer at Music Farm/Sound Works (1979/80), Quadrasonic Sound/Quad Recording Studios (1981-1984), and Rawlston Recording Studio (1984-1992).[5]

Occasionally, Walker has also engineered the sound on live concert tours, including for such artists as Lonnie Liston Smith, Gil Scott-Heron, The Jimmy Castor Bunch, and Whodini.

Early Rap Recordings[edit]

Between 1983 and 1993, Walker engineered a number of important early rap recordings, most of them produced by shifting combinations of his friends and associates Russell Simmons, Kurtis Blow, and Larry Smith. The earliest were Jimmy Spicer’s “Money (Dollar Bill Y’All)” and Lovebug Starski’s ”You Gotta Believe” in 1983. He went on to engineer Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde’s “The Champagne of Rap,”[6] And The Fat Boys’ “The Fat Boys Are Back[7], in 1985. In ’91, Walker worked on Whodini’s ”Bag-a-Trix.”[8] Two years later he helped to engineer Onyx’s “Bacdafucup,”[9] the group’s debut album.

With Lester Bowie and the Art Ensemble of Chicago[edit]

Walker engineered five albums over a 15-year span for avant-garde trumpeter and composer Lester Bowie and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. They include two titles for Bowie’s Brass Fantasy ensemble -- “I Only Have Eyes for You” (1985)[10] and “Twilight Dreams” (1987)[11] -- two titles with the Art Ensemble -- “Ancient to the Future” (1987)[12] and “Naked” (2000)[13] – and a solo album by Bowie entitled “Works” (1989).[14]

At Rawlston Recording Studio with the Mighty Sparrow[edit]

Walker has been affiliated with Rawlston Charles, founder and proprietor of the calypso record label called Charlie’s Records, since the late Seventies. In a documentary film entitled “Charlie’s Records” -- produced by Tina Charles, Rawlston’s daughter, and released in 2019 -- the entrepreneur singles out Walker by name for helping him to design the studio that opened to the public as Rawlston Recording in 1984.[15]

Among the dozens of dates subsequently engineered by Walker at Rawlston are a significant number by The Mighty Sparrow, the singer widely regarded as “The Calypso King of the World.” They include “Salvation” (1993)[16], “Dancing Shoes” (1993)[17], “The Renaissance” (1996)[18], “The Supreme Serenader” (1998)[19], ”Wanted: Dead or Alive (God Bless America)” (2000)[20], and “Man In De Bedroom” (2002)[21].

Also, Walker was filmed at Rawlston, engineering Sparrow’s recording of “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot,” in “Jingle Bell Rocks,” Mitchell Kezin’s 2013 documentary about obsessive collectors of Christmas music.

’”Turn The Horns On’’[edit]

Walker published his autobiography in 2013. It is entitled ‘’Turn the Horns On.’’

External Links[edit]

  • [4], Akili Walker page on allmusic.com
  • [5], Walker’s website


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  1. ^ ”For a Master of Sound, the Beat Goes On,” October 13, 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/14/nyregion/for-a-master-of-sound-the-beat-goes-on.html
  2. ^ ”Glory B da Funk’s on Me,” https://www.allmusic.com/album/glory-b-da-funks-on-me%21-the-bootsy-collins-anthology-mw0000004954/credits
  3. ^ ”On To Victory,” https://www.allmusic.com/album/on-to-victory-mw0000267455/credits
  4. ^ ”Audio Track/New York, Billboard, February 9, 1985, https://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Music/Archive-Billboard-IDX/IDX/80s/1985/BB-1985-02-09-OCR-Page-0035.pdf#search=%22akili%20walker%22
  5. ^ ”Rawlston Charles’ Brooklyn Studio Opens Its Doors,” Billboard, Oct. 6, 1984, lhttps://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Music/Archive-Billboard-IDX/IDX/80s/1984/BB-1984-10-06-OCR-Page-0039.pdf#search=%22akili%20walker%22
  6. ^ ”Audio Track/New York,” Billboard, October 26, 1985, https://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Music/Archive-Billboard-IDX/IDX/80s/1985/BB-1985-10-26-OCR-Page-0028.pdf#search=%22akili%20walker%22
  7. ^ ”Audio Track/New York,” Billboard, June 22, 1985
  8. ^ ”Audio Track/New York,” Billboard, August 18, 1990, https://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Music/Archive-Billboard-IDX/IDX/90s/1990/BB-1990-08-18-OCR-Page-0040.pdf#search=%22akili%20walker%22
  9. ^ "Bacdafucup - Onyx | Credits".
  10. ^ "I Only Have Eyes for You - Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy | Credits".
  11. ^ "Twilight Dreams - Lester Bowie, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy | Credits".
  12. ^ ”Audio Track/New York, Billboard, April 5, 1986, https://www.americanradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Music/Archive-Billboard-IDX/IDX/80s/1986/BB-1986-04-05-OCR-Page-0051.pdf#search=%22akili%20walker%22
  13. ^ "Naked - the Art Ensemble of Chicago | Credits".
  14. ^ "Akili Walker | Credits".
  15. ^ ”Charlie’s Records,” Cast & Credits, https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/charlie-s-records-2019
  16. ^ "Salvation - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  17. ^ "Dancing Shoes - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  18. ^ "Renaissance - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  19. ^ "The Supreme Serenader - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  20. ^ "Wanted: Dead or Alive (God Bless America) - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".
  21. ^ "Man in de Bedroom - Mighty Sparrow | Credits".