Victor “Victa” Lemonte Wooten is a celebrated American solo bassist, composer, author, arranger, producer, vocalist, and multi instrumentalist. He was regarded as one of the most influential bassist since Jaco Pastorius because of his techniques and innovations on the bass guitar. He is hailed by many as a genius on the bass guitar, a claim backed by his five Grammy Awards, three Bass Player of the Year awards by Bass Player Magazine, and two Nashville Music Awards for Bassist of the Year.
Victor was born on September 11, 1964 in Hampton, Virginia to Dorothy and Pete Wooten. He grew up on the West Coast and was the youngest of the five Wooten brothers, his older brothers being Regi, Roy, Rudy, and Joseph. The siblings showed musical inclinations, and Victor’s musical education began at a young age of three, consequently being part of The Wooten Brothers Band by the age of five. From opening acts for high profile 70’s bands like Curtis Mayfield and War, the Wooten Brothers band became a mainstay in Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
In 1988, Victor moved to Nashville, where he worked with singer Jonell Mosser and met New Grass Revival banjo master Béla Fleck. A year later, Fleck invited Victor, his brother Roy (a.k.a. Future Man) and harmonica-playing keyboardist Howard Levy to perform with him, and the Flecktones were born. Drawing musical styles from such a wide array if genre as funk, jazz, world music, bluegrass, classical, pop, and soul, the Fleckstones helped Victor develop and showcase his musical genius even more. Howard Levy eventually left the Flecktones in 1993, and the band’s new trio format enabled Victor to develop and display a staggering array of fingerboard skills and helped earn the band their first GRAMMY Award.
Even during the height of the Fleckstones fame, Victor has already set his sights on performing solo. In 1993, he formed Bass Extremes with Steve Bailey. In 1996, he released his critically acclaimed solo debut, A Show of Hands. Soon after, Wooten took his solo show on the road with drummer J.D. Blair. He released What Did He Say? in 1997, the GRAMMY nominated
Yin-Yang in 1999 and the two-disc Live In America in 2001. He was immensely occupied with tours and performances after each album release. After a four-year hiatus from solo recordings, Wooten released Soul Circus on the Vanguard label in 2005. The recording included several guest players which further highlighted Victor’s musical virtuosity. Wooten joined the Heads Up label in the spring of 2008 with the April 1 release of Palmystery.
“The Music Lesson”
Simultaneous with the release of Palmystery, Berkley Trade Paperback (The Penguin Group USA) will release Wooten’s debut novel, The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music. It is a story about Michael, a struggling you musician who is visited, almost magically
by a strangely dressed eccentric wise man who calls himself his teacher. As the subtitle suggests, the entire book is a spiritual journey of self discovery and growth, uniquely laid down by Wooten using his own musical ideologies. Wooten broke the “teacher’s” lessons about life into ten elements of music: Notes, Articulation, Technique, Emotion, Dynamics, Rhythm, Tone, Phrasing, Space (Rests), and Listening. It may seem alien to those who are not musically inclined but Wooten manages to smoothly point out that these elements from music can also be found in life, and everything, every note, every chord, every harmony, has its own meaning. The book reads much like the way Wooten plays, seemingly filled with noise at times but suddenly and undeniably, you discover the profound weaving of the notes to create a masterful music.
Victor has been offering Bass/Nature camps since 2000. It is an experience filled with activities that are designed to open the students’ awareness to Life, Music, Nature, and their own selves. The classes are alternating on classroom and outdoor settings, incorporating nature with music, and lessons are structured to promote interaction and active sharing of ideas. Besides music lessons, survival skills such as fire-making, finding food and water, and shelter making are also taught inside the camp.
After a few years, Victor and his wife Holly acquired nearly 150 acres of land near Duck River in Only, Tennessee. It was transformed into the Wooten Woods Retreat and became the new site for the Bass/Nature camps thru the help of several of Victor’s friends and former students around the world. It was opened on April 5, 2009.
Currently, Victor offers the Bass/Nature Camp, Theory Weekend, Wooten Woods Retreat Open House & 3-Week Residency Orientation, Victor Wooten’s Bass/Nature Camp 3-Week Residency, Wing Chun Week-End, and Victor Wooten’s Camp Jam.
Youtube Performance Videos
I did not believe he was playing a bass guitar here, thought it was a synthesizer:
Electric bass? Sounded more like an electric guitar to me…
You’d know a Grammy Award was inevitable once you see this:
To find out more about Victor, check out his website here.