Monday Nov 15, 2021

The Bobcast 329: Ryan Tennis


Hailing from Philadelphia, America's City of Brotherly Love, Ryan Tennis' music is all about dismantling boundaries and bringing people together. Genre-defiant by nature and with diversity at its core, his rousing songs are infused with the rhythms from the many countries he’s visited during his extensive tours. While his performances are dynamic and danceable, Tennis’ voice and songs have a disarming sweetness that lowers your defenses and lets you breathe easy.

A singer-songwriter and guitarist, Ryan Tennis' style bares a strong influence from the Folk and Rock he grew up with (Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young), a connection with roots soul music that grew in his youth (Bill Withers, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke), and the energy and rhythms of Colombia, where he has toured and collaborated with some of the country’s finest artists.

Despite a life that now circulates around music almost entirely, Tennis admits he was a late bloomer when it came to songwriting. Sports occupied much of his time during his teens and into college, playing as a 1AA All-American defensive lineman at Davidson College in North Carolina until the age of 22. That intensity and power that he channelled for football still comes through in Tennis' live performances. 

Over the last 12 years, Tennis has played 100-200 shows a year and pulled off countless independent tours with shows in the US, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and Australia. 

Since then, Tennis has also released four full-length LPs and two EPs, has fronted a 10-piece "Graceland'' band with the Grammy award-winning South African bass player Bakithi Kumalo, collaborated with Latin Grammy winning artists Nidia Gongora and Hugo Candaleria, and regularly toured South America with Latin Grammy-nominated group "El Caribefunk”. Additionally, he won the Philadelphia Songwriters Project, was selected as a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition, and helped found “Sancochofest” in the City of Tuluá, Colombia. In his hometown of Philadelphia, he curates and hosts “Tracks at the Vale,” a vibrant concert series on the stage he built in his backyard, where the music and the crowd echo the warmth and diversity he has fostered in his music. 

“Everyone’s struggling these days in their own way, including me” Tennis says. “The best way I’ve found to feel that joy, that flow, that freedom from worry, is when I’m performing, when I feel like I’m channeling something big. When I’m in that place I can open up my own groove, and open it up for other people too.”

Ryan Tennis has achieved so much during his time in music and shows little sign of slowing down. His forthcoming single, 'Alligator' is scheduled for release in early September 2021; a taste of what’s to come from his forthcoming album later in the year.


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