AJ Ghent Bio
AJ Ghent was born in Fort Pierce, Florida to a family rich in musical history, such as his great uncle Willie Eason, the originator of the 'Sacred Steel Tradition' grandfather Henry Nelson, and father Aubrey Ghent Sr. AJ's grandfather Henry Nelson was the founder of the "Sacred Steel" rhythmic style played by many steel/slide guitarists today. Some of these guitarists include Robert Randolph, The Lee Boys, The Campbell Brothers, Derek Trucks and more.
AJ’s debut release, Live At Terminal West (Blue Corn Music), is a CD/DVD package that showcases a sound, and a show, that is entirely his own. This double-treat package includes a 6-piece unit and is a testament to both his mind-boggling guitar skills and infectious enthusiasm as a performer. AJ’s contagious passion for the music he loves has fans jumping to their feet, unsure if they are at a revival tent or a rock show – but loving every minute of it.
“Everything in our house was music,” Ghent recalls of his upbringing. While still young, AJ discovered the lap steel guitar himself. “Witnessing my father and grandfather play in church and perform gospel music inspired me, and the freedom of the instrument put me somewhere I had never been.”
Ready to take on the world as a professional musician, AJ left his hometown and dove headfirst into the music scene of West Palm Beach, FL where he honed his performance skills nightly in a cover band his sister and now bandmate Tiffany, “I hit the stage immediately after graduation,” AJ recalls.
AJ spent his nights in West Palm Beach exploring a colorful range of genres from hip hop to R&B, but he still sought a style of his own. His time with the group solidified his love for entertaining, but the drive for further musical definition led him to Atlanta, GA. Quickly carving his niche in the Atlanta scene, AJ started gigging at local jam sessions and was quickly noticed by Atlanta legend Col. Bruce Hampton, the eclectic singer/guitarist who has mentored many musicians including Derek Trucks and Widespread Panic. AJ joined the group, began honing his signature steel guitar sound and learned the value of breaking convention. “One of the things Col. Bruce appreciated was the fact that I was very spontaneous. He pushed that out of me and showed me that it’s okay to just get on stage without everything planned out. That’s what the AJ Ghent Band lives by now.”
AJ soon decided he wanted to pursue a new sound that blended his love for soul, old-school R&B,&rock, along with the accessibility of a cover band and the experimental flair of Col. Bruce Hampton. But he couldn’t start his solo project without adding a twist to the instrumentation. AJ took it upon himself to overhaul the lap steel aesthetic. “I started out on a standard six-string lap steel guitar, then I moved to a steel guitar. After that I found myself wanting to still try something different, so I started standing up playing lap steel and then found myself admiring the look of traditional guitar players. I wanted people to relate to that. That’s how I came up with the design of an eight-string lap steel and Telecaster guitar hybrid.”
With the help of a his wife MarLa and sister Tiffany, on vocals and percussion, AJ put the band together. The newly formed AJ Ghent Band began gigging around Atlanta with a fresh energy and desire to spread the love of music. Almost immediately the group attracted fans, and one of those fans happened to be country icon Zac Brown. He was so impressed with AJ &his band that he invited them to tour as support with the Zac Brown Band on their 2013 national tour.
Overnight the AJ Ghent Band went from being Atlanta’s best kept secret to an act opening for one of country music’s biggest stars. Luckily the AJ Ghent Band’s sound transcends genre so, as AJ says, “Going out in front of those country crowds was an entirely new experience, but by the end of the sets people were screaming for us.”
Since the album release, bandleader, AJ Ghent has transitioned back to the simplicity of the blues. He now tours as a 4-piece unit with him on slide guitar and vocals, his wife MarLa Ghent on bass synth, percussion and vocals, his sister Tiffany Ghent on percussion and vocals, and Javares “JD” Dunn on drums.
AJ Ghent Band has already caught the attention of A-list musicians currently on the scene. AJ has performed alongside Gov’t Mule and The Allman Brothers, opened for Robert Cray and laid down tracks for Zac Brown’s 2013 Grohl Sessions Vol. 1 as one of three guest artists alongside Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and bassist Oteil Burbridge (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Allman Brothers Band). AJ has recently been invited by his friend Zac Brown to collaborate and lay down more tracks on a new project, being produced by Grammy Award winning musician/entrepreneur, Pharrell Williams.