Ryan Star / Matt Duke
Ryan Star says that during his childhood, his home record collection was his "bible and education: the Doors, the Stones, Janis, Joni, the Who, Simon and Garfunkel, and countless other legends." He picked up his his brother's neglected guitar, and began learning songs by ear. Stage, a band he formed in high school, grew into New York City prominence while he attended college. Madonna signed the band to Maverick Records, and national touring followed. But Star knew that he wanted something different. He pursued a solo career, participated in the show Rock Star, and is currently signed to Atlantic Records.
Matt Duke looks super-young—almost like a teenager—in photographs, but the sound of his voice and the gravity of his lyrical content make you believe he is an old soul who has been through a lot. “That’s exactly the image I am hoping to project,” says Duke, who incorporates pop, folk, jazz, and rock into his repertoire. His stadium-ready, Vedderesque voice may have mass appeal, but for now you are more likely to see him in a coffeehouse setting, following in the footsteps of some of his heroes such as Ani DiFranco and Conor Oberst.