An Eclectic Journey

The ability to grow and adapt, to innovate and thrive among uncertainty; these are hallmarks of many a creative entrepreneur. They’re also characteristics shared by many successful musicians whose careers need to constantly evolve in a landscape of ongoing change. One such musician is producer, composer, musical director, radio host, and stellar guitarist Terry Wollman ’80.

Wollman’s musical journey began in Miami, FL, where he grew up surrounded by the sounds of world music and a musical melting pot of r&b, pop, soul, and funk. Although he spent time learning piano, drums, and clarinet, the guitar was always his instrument of choice. Miami was a recording oasis in the 1970s for so many great artists, and his attention soon turned to the magic of making records. His next steps began when renowned Bee Gees producer Albhy Galuten ’68 advised him to attend Berklee if he wanted to become a producer and arranger.

The experience of studying at Berklee had a lasting impact on Wollman. “It took my music to a new level, and broadened my ability to hear and understand what made music work,” he says. “It also gave me the tools to express myself musically in different styles, and appreciate the value of versatility.” One of his most influential teachers at Berklee was acclaimed composer Michael Gibbs ’63. “He taught me how, and why to break the rules and find my own voice,” Wollman recalls. “I didn’t realize until after I graduated from Berklee, that I went into the school as a guitarist and came out as a musician.”

In 1981, Wollman moved to Los Angeles and soon began touring with Billy Preston, the Crusaders, and the New Christy Minstrels. “It was during that time that I learned two important lessons: to say yes to every opportunity, and that my career was going to be an eclectic one.”

Thus began a 36-year adventure in the music industry for this versatile musician that has included earning an array of touring, recording, music directing, producing, and performance credits with such artists as Melissa Manchester, the 5th Dimension, Wilson Phillips, Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez, Joe Walsh, Dick Van Dyke, Dave Grusin, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Tony Bennett, and Eartha Kitt.  

It has also included the evolution of his solo career as a contemporary jazz recording artist. This segment of the journey was the focus of his seventh album, Silver Collection, a 25-year musical retrospective of songs that feature performances by Los Angeles’s finest including alumni Abraham Laboriel Sr. ’72, John “JR” Robinson ’75, Greg Manning ’92 and Mindi Abair ’91, as well as Michael McDonald, Keb Mo’, Joe Sample, Dave Koz, and Gerald Albright. Wollman is excited about his new single “No Problem,” a blues-rock song featuring Manning, Robinson, Abair, and Hussain Jiffry.

Wollman’s Los Angeles career has also included TV engagements as a guitarist and/or music director for such shows as Scrubs, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Fox TV’s Late Show, The Byron Allen Show, The Arsenio Hall Show, and Married with Children. In 2016, Wollman began hosting the weekly radio show “Making It with Terry Wollman: Strategies for Making It in the Music Biz.” It features interviews that explore what it takes to have a career in the ever-changing landscape of the music business, living the life of a creative artist, the arc of a career, integrity, focus, and having fun. (Visit www.entertalkradio.com/makingit.)

Wollman’s eclectic and on-going musical voyage continues, powered by his curiosity and an entrepreneurial drive to explore and survive.  For more, visit www.terrywollman.com or www.youtube.com/terrywollman.