When you combine a rich, soulful voice and a heartfelt passion for delivering powerful performances, you get singer-songwriter, Earl J Rivard, known as "Earl J" by fans, family and friends. Earl J's latest album, "Troubadour Blue," combines an inviting vulnerability and a soulful edge with a sound that's acoustic and pure. Earl J's songs express universal themes of life, love and humanity. His presence is endearing. His performances are powerful and clean. Although Earl J lost his eyesight as an infant, he didn't let that stand in the way of his love for song and music. His performances exude an inner intensity and passion that are nothing short of captivating. His fans consistently acknowledge his ability to connect powerfully and personally through his illustrative and emotive lyrics. Earl J's connection to music and performance dates to his earliest days. His first-ever memory comes from the age of two when falling asleep to Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair." Even at that young age, Earl J distinctly remembers the powerful emotion he experienced as he listened to the melancholy melody. Fast-forward just a few months. Sitting in a highchair at a café in New York City, the young toddler stunned his parents as he sang along word-for-word, note-for-note to the Simon & Garfunkel tune that played through the restaurant's speakers. "Wow...I can't wait to tell Art about this one," explained their food server -- cousin to Mr. Garfunkel himself! Throughout his life, Earl J continued to develop and share his natural gift for song and performance. As a boy, he devoted time to a local boy's choir. He sat first-chair as lead of the trumpet section in middle school. In college, his voice was heard across campus as a lead singer with one of UC Berkeley's premier a cappella ensembles, "Artists in Resonance.". He is also the cantor for one of the Masses at his local church, and sings at weddings and funerals for his parish. This life-long exploration of music has contributed to creating the powerful and talented singer-songwriter he is today. A critical experience in the small, provincial town of Yerba Buena in Tucumán, Argentina forged a turning point in Earl J's life and musical career. Earl J was 14. He and his family spent a year in Tucumán to immerse themselves more fully in his mother's native province than they had been able to in their frequent earlier visits of shorter duration. This intimate exposure to that culture would forever alter the way he experienced life, love and music. "There'd be a dozen or more kids who would get together for 'Guitarreadas', passing the guitar around for hours and hours," he recalls. "It's hard to over-emphasize how important this experience was. It was during these sessions that I really began to take shape as a musician and as a performer." It was also during this year that Earl J and his father scored an on-the-spot audition with a concert producer. As a result, the eager teen earned his first big break performing in front of over 10,000 people at the "Coke N' Rock" festival celebrating fifty years of the soft drink company in Argentina. To this day, Earl J continues to make regular trips back to what he considers his second home. His love and perpetual nostalgia for Argentina are perfectly captured in his heartbreaking song, "Flying Machine." Today, Earl J regularly performs his solo act throughout the Bay Area. Many also know him as the smooth bassist and back-up vocalist in another of the Bay Area's hottest new acts, "The Highway Robbers." Earl J's philosophy about performance is simple. 'Music can never be done half-assed," he explains. "Even if you're playing at a dive bar on a wet Monday to the bartender and two drunk guys. That bartender and two drunk guys get everything you have to give, no matter what, every time.' It's his respect for the power of music that drives him. "I'm perpetually amazed at how it affects other people. I've got the privilege and the joy to take this God-given gift and share it with others. The dreams of world domination have faded away a bit. It's not what it's about. It's about loving music and having it touch people."
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