Not even 30 years old yet, and this Australian-bred guitar player can boast playing with some of the music industry’s greatest legends. From trading solos with Carlos Santana and jamming out with Steve Vai and Prince, to sharing the spotlight with the late King of Pop, Orianthi continues shredding to stardom. On her way to becoming a guitar rocking legend herself, Orianthi already has hits under her belt such as “According to You” and “Shut Up and Kiss Me”, to name a few.
Soul Train: You have such an interesting name. What does it mean?
Orianthi: I’m actually named after my great grandmother, and it means “flower” in Greek.
Soul Train: You have worked with some music legends, and you recently started working with Alice Cooper. What is that like?
Orianthi: It’s so much fun! I’ve been on tour with him for about three months. It’s crazy; we have just had a blast. I had about a week to learn all of his songs. In front of huge audiences, I was able to be myself in the show. I’ve just had a blast doing this; it’s been so much fun.
Soul Train: You have also worked with Prince. Tell us about that experience.
Orianthi: Well, I have actually jammed with Prince. He called me on my cell phone, he had been watching my YouTube videos and he invited me to jam out with him and Sheila E. at a rehearsal space for a few hours. So, he played bass, I played guitar, Sheila E. played drums and we jammed for like two hours. It was amazing.
Soul Train: You were slated to work on one of the biggest comeback tours of this generation. How was it working with Michael Jackson?
Orianthi: It was absolutely surreal. I got the email from Mike Bearden, the musical director; he said MJ had actually watched my YouTube videos and that he wanted him (Michael Bearden) to reach out to me. I came in to audition–I have never been that nervous in my life, performing with Michael Jackson sitting right there on the couch and playing “Beat It”. He hired me and some others that night. It was great working with him. He was a very sweet person and an incredible entertainer.
Soul Train: One of the things that people would say upon meeting Michael Jackson is that he had a sort of “aura” about him. Did you get that same sense when you met him or while working with him?
Orianthi:(laughs) Yes, he had an amazing presence. When he came into the room, you always knew he was there. When he was on stage, he brought so much energy with him whether he was just standing on the stage, singing, or dancing, and it was very inspiring.
Soul Train: Did the King of Pop give you any advice that you can apply to your career today?
Orianthi: Yes, he said to give it your all and never hold back. He also said not to be shy and put it all out there.
Soul Train:(laughs) Not to be shy, some good advice coming from a shy one!
Orianthi: (laughs) Well that’s true offstage, but onstage he was completely different.
Soul Train: In the rehearsal footage released on This is It, you are wearing an amazing pair of boots all decked out in glitter. Where did you get those?
Orianthi:(laughs) They were actually designed by the guy that designed the guitar that I was using with Swarovski Crystals, and he also designed the boots as well. Everything was getting covered in those crystals. It was crazy!
Soul Train: When is your next album going to be released?
Orianthi: Very soon. The EP is out right now actually, it’s called Fire. I had fun working on that with Dave Stewart, he produced it. We recorded eight songs in one day. It was so much fun just going in and recording. The new album should be finished in about a month. Then, we’ll start booking some shows and playing around Los Angeles, then head off to do some shows in Japan and other areas in the U.S. I’d love to go to Brazil and of course Australia. I’m looking forward to that.
Soul Train: How would you describe your sound?
Orianthi: My sound is sort of more rock, with some blues. It’s still very commercial. I like to make sure that the chorus of the songs is written so the crowd can sing along during the shows. I love those kinds of shows, so I kind of write the songs with that in mind.
Soul Train: How many guitars do you own?
Orianthi:(laughs) Let’s just say I have a healthy collection of guitars! (laughs)
Soul Train: Do you give guitar lessons outside of YouTube?
Orianthi: I’ve been doing lessons through the Guitar Workshop Plus Program. I like that kind of energy and working with people on the guitar, it’s inspiring for me to be around that energy. I might be doing more of that kind of thing in the future.
Soul Train: Who would you like to work with that you haven’t gotten to work with yet?
Orianthi: I would love to do a song with B.B. King. I really love the sound of Adele’s voice, so working with her would be really cool.
Soul Train: Have you had to deal with being treated differently being a female guitar player?
Orianthi: Sometimes I think you have to play twice as hard just to get the okay. I try not to think about it that much, I just play and I don’t read the message boards. (laughs)
Soul Train: Do you have any advice for female guitar players?
Orianthi:Just keep at it, never give up. If you love it, just keep at it, work hard, and if you can keep playing as much as you can, jam as much as you can. It helps a lot with your skills, just playing and jamming.
Follow Orianthi on Twitter @Orianthi and check out her website www.orianthi.com.
Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Creative Loafing, or her own site, www.themofochronicles.com. She’s also a special guest contributor on The Social Hour on Urban Soul Radio. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.