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INTRODUCING KRIS BOWERS
Kristopher Bowers is an American composer, pianist, and keyboardist. Bowers was born in Los Angeles, California. His father, Eric Bowers is a film and television writer,and his mother, Kimberle, is a television executive. They wanted their son to play the piano, so played recordings of pianists when he was still in the womb, and sent him to lessons from the age of 4. He had private classical music lessons from around the age of 9. He initially listened to "classic soul records and hip-hop before falling under the spell of jazz, classical music, and film scores." At Los Angeles County High School for the Arts he studied jazz and classical piano, including being taught by Mulgrew Miller and Donald Vega, and also studied jazz at Colburn School for Performing Arts. He graduated in 2006, and then attended Juilliard, and obtained a bachelor's and master's degree in jazz performance there. While a student, he had frequent gigs in New York.
In a review of one of his early shows as a bandleader, The New York Times referred to his playing as "serious, thoughtful, organized, restrained; he made the piano sound good. His set had range and ambition and said something strong, sweet, and normative about phrasing and rhythm in jazz right now."
Before completing his master's degree, Bowers was the winner of the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. In the same year, he played on Watch the Throne, a Jay Z and Kanye West album. Bowers then toured with Marcus Miller for the whole of 2012, as well as José James from 2012 to 2015, and collaborated with artists across a variety of genres.
In late 2013, Bowers recorded his debut album Heroes + Misfits, and the album was released by Concord Records in 2014. An AllMusic reviewer commented that the pianist was "Based in jazz but with an ear for contemporary R&B, film scores, and electronic music," and the album premiered at No. 1 on the iTunes Jazz charts.
In 2014, Bowers performed at the International Jazz Day Concert in Japan, the Festival de Jazz de Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain, and at the London Jazz Festival. In 2016, Bowers was invited to perform at The White House for the International Jazz Day Concert hosted by President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama.
During his time as a touring musician, Bowers began pursuing his childhood dream of becoming a film composer. His first film composition was for the 2013 documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. Two years later, Bowers' work on the 2015 Showtime documentary Kobe Bryant's Muse gained him notice as an up-and-coming composer well-versed in a wide range of compositional styles. In the same year, he scored two other Showtime documentaries: I Am Giant about the football player Victor Cruz, and Play It Forward about Tony Gonzalez, and was selected as one of six composers invited to the 2015 Sundance Composers Lab.
In 2016, Bowers returned to Los Angeles, where he began focusing on his career as a film composer. During this year, Bowers worked on the documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You and the film Little Boxes, as well as the television programs Religion of Sports and Dear White People. Also in 2016, Bowers composed music for the Amazon children's Christmas special, The Snowy Day, based on the 1962 book of the same title by Ezra Jack Keats. It was for this show that Bowers received a Daytime Emmy nomination and win in 2017.
During the same period, basketball player Kobe Bryant approached Bowers about composing music for his post-basketball transition into film and television production. The two collaborated on a handful of segments for ESPN during the 2017 NBA Playoffs. The segments featured a new sound from Bowers, stylizing his scores after early Disney cartoons. Their collaborative efforts continued when Bryant led the sports drink, Bodyarmor's, first multi-million dollar national ad campaign. When asked about the choice to create an original piece of music for the ad, Bryant said, "I thought it was very important for the brand to have an anthem... that's a Bodyarmor 'Obsession is Natural' track.