Freddie Ravel is a lifelong ever-evolving and expanding musician and keynote speaker. He has played with many of the greats including Prince, Madonna, Carlos Santana, Earth, Wind & Fire, Al Jarreau, Kanye, and the teams behind J Lo and Lady Gaga. Freddie, however, is much more than a master keyboardist for he not only understands the language of music, he has broken the music code to reveal that music, much more than entertainment, is a potent agent for human transformation. Understanding music as few do, he created Life in Tune, a program and methodology to help people and organizations understand how harmony, rhythm, and melody can help us all play and work better together.
Freddie is a magnetically vibrant guy, with a smile that veritably forces a reciprocal smile from anyone who sees him. His positivity and engagement with life is something that radiates from him. At 62, unlike some people in his industry, he has a laser focus on health, keeping himself ready for the long haul, with a daily routine around fitness and thoughtful eating. A musician’s work is never finished until they decide it is, and he is not one to live on his past laurels, even if those include multiple #1-charting solo albums, being knighted, or bringing his unique “Life in Tune” keynote concert presentations to corporations across 82 countries…and counting. He is a man about the now and the future. What can we create and where can we go — those are the questions that are top of mind.
You may catch one of Freddie’s domestic or international speaking events, his world-class band at LA’s legendary Vibrato, or experience his upcoming Life in Tune journeys online where he guides his clients to tap the power of the music they love to achieve joy, success and wellbeing.
What do you learn from music?
You learn that the most integrative tool and emotional feeling of music can be described as stimulated air. Think about it. Music is literally Stimulated Air. You can’t smell it, touch it, or see it but you can sure feel it and, when you feel it, it is so emotional that it can recall memories that seem to go back multiple lifetimes that flood my mind with everything from the cosmic to the first time I inhaled my daughter and son’s skin as I picked them both up — just seconds after they had been born. It’s that deep for me. To me, it’s the language of God. When we as human beings get to manipulate it, through playing guitars or flutes or pianos or singing, it’s a great privilege. I have a very reverent feeling about music and I really do feel that it’s one of the greatest gifts that humanity has access to.
“I have a very reverent feeling about music and I really do feel that it’s one of the greatest gifts that humanity has access to”
Most memorable experience on stage?
The first one that comes to mind was in Paris when I was playing at a venue called La Villette. If you ask any Parisian, they’ll know exactly where that is. It’s about 8-9,000 people in capacity and the year was around 1999 and I was playing with the great jazz singer Al Jarreau. He’s the only musical artist that has won Grammys in the three unique categories of Latin, Pop and Jazz. He and I had written a song called “Tomorrow Today” and we debuted it in Paris. When we ended the song, a very final, clear ending, the audience continued to keep singing the chant “Tomorrow Today…” over and over and over again. And we must have done about 8 or 9 encores. You play it for a minute, you stop, the audience keeps singing it, you play it again, you stop, they keep singing it… about 8 times. I’ll never forget that. That this new song that we wrote infected them on such a deep level that thousands of people —strangers we had never met — could not stop singing it… that’s the power of music.
What was it like playing with Prince?
Funky! And I’m going to spell that F-O-N-K-Y. The guy has an incredible groove and I have to say, his pocket, as we call it in music, the pocket in which he played, strumming and riffing on his guitar, was, by far, the deepest, funkiest pocket I’ve ever been inside of. He’s so famous for his lead guitar playing but, for me, his rhythmic pocket on the guitar is just insane. He’s a genius guy.
Top 5 albums of all time for you?
Woo… that’s tough. I’m going to say first of all Abbey Road by the Beatles. Aja by Steely Dan. What Is Hip by Tower of Power. All ‘n All by Earth, Wind, and Fire and perhaps Tapestry by Carole King because the way she wrote the songs is simply a master class in storytelling, innocence, and purity.
As for the current artists, I really like what Bruno Mars has been up to the last few years as well as Ed Sheeran, Norah Jones and even some Billie Eilish.
Life in Tune
What is Life in Tune?
Life in Tune™ is a program and methodology my team and I created based on the SIX foundational keys within music: Melody, Harmony, Rhythm are the three primary foundations and the other three are the Score, Dissonance and Listening. While Score is the destination of melody, harmony, and rhythm, Dissonance is the elements that cause tension in music while Listening is the superpower to achieve resolution.
When all six are integrated, we gain new insights and awareness with a new word I named “intunition.” It means to enhance the ability to resonate with people where you intuitively know where things are going but, at the same time, you can deeply connect. This, I believe, empowers everybody.
What’s the title of your book?
LIFE IN TUNE – the 6 Musical Keys to Happiness in an Out of Tune World.
I think we are about 6 months out from publishing. I’m also going to be part of a movie that we’re filming in 2 months called “A Father’s Promise.” It’s going to feature a musician named Mark who worked with Sheryl Crow. He has three children and one of them was tragically shot at the Sandy Hook shooting. Mark has since become a tremendous advocate for stopping the violence and shootings at schools. Recently, music has come back into his life and has been pulling him out of the horrible depression that he has been through for all these years in the wake of the tragedy. Now, he’s reactivated and is coming back as a warrior for peace and love and the music is driving him. That’s where the director of the film asked me to open up the concert that we will be filming with a poem that I wrote called “If Music Could Speak.” It’s not just a poem but it’s a whole composition. There are a lot of things in the works. The first thing is the book, the movie and then a platform to bring Life in Tune to the world online.
What is it that you’ve learned from your children?
They’ve taught me how to be very humble because when we don’t agree, they challenge me — in a good way. Both of my kids are super smart and they kick my butt all day long with different ways of seeing the world. My son is 16 and my daughter is 19 so they are at that age where we have some really feisty conversations and I love what I learn from them about their view of the world from their perspective. We always say that we’re raising our kids but the truth is they’re raising me.
What’s your exercise program these days?
Ah! Well, the pool has been closed for maintenance but normally I’m in that water 5 days a week and I swim 70 laps each day. I have my Apple watch and I measure my time which is usually around 40-45 minutes. I’ve beaten it a few times at 38 minutes. But it’s about a mile. I change the stroke every 5 laps between freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke. I love swimming.
“I’ve done a lot of rafting trips because there’s no wifi; you’re completely unplugged from the world”
What’s your favorite summer adventure?
I like nature trips. Over the years I’ve taken my kids and father on river trips down the Colorado, Snake, American and the Kern. I’ve done a lot of rafting trips because there’s no wifi; you’re completely unplugged from the world — it’s just you and the river. I think that’s a beautiful thing. Other trips that I never will forget are the ones I took to the Amazon. I went to visit the Achuar people in Ecuador and worked with the shamans and a tribe of people who have been in existence for over ten thousand years. That was unbelievable. And I love America’s national parks. I’ve been to 82 countries. I’ve travelled all over the world. I think the United States, pound for pound, is still the most beautiful country with all of our amazing national parks. I’ve taken my kids to Zion, Grand Canyon, Arches in Utah, all over the Cascade mountains, all the different mountains in Oregon, and the Sierra Nevadas in California.
Favorite guilty streaming TV shows?
Breaking Bad for sure! God, what a series. Bryan Cranston is amazing. I don’t really spend that much time on TV. I do watch a lot of anime with my son. He loves anime so we watch a lot of Japanese anime. It’s an interesting art form because they are able to take their characters into unimaginable worlds and tell unimaginable stories because they’re animated so they can die and come back in the next episode. I’m enjoying the depth of the story arcs and the different worlds that I’m watching with him. But I spend much more time on music.
What are the 3 non-negotiables in your life?
1. Integrity is huge. You have to keep your word. I don’t have people in my life who lack integrity.
2. Living the status quo. Living life, punching the clock 8-5, rat race, Costco market, punch the clock. I don’t think that’s a good existence. A static, monotonous, grinding life is not for me. It’s a tragedy that so many people are on the hamster wheel of life. I feel it’s such a waste of life. Life is so glorious that if we are on the hamster wheel, we’ve missed our cue. We are rotting and wasting away this precious gift.
“I believe ultimately we are here to co-elevate each other and to be of service to one another”
3. Belief in a higher power. I don’t believe that any one of us are here for our own ego. I believe ultimately we are here to co-elevate each other and to be of service to one another. I do believe in a higher power, I do believe in God — but not in the same way that people interpret it. I mean, it’s not an old guy with a long white beard in the clouds. It is more the spirit of love and something that is omnipotent and resonates with the goodness of love — that’s what resonates with me.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
I’m hoping that Life in Tune becomes a worldwide program that teaches people the power of presence. And that through the power of music and being present, their level of happiness reaches a higher level than it’s ever been. I hope this elevates the spirit and the joy of people through the emotional force that all music taps. That is my intention but I also understand that at some point I must let go of the steering wheel because humanity is organic and chaotic. Nevertheless, I do believe that the system is so stable, road-tested and is packed with so much ancient wisdom that it will be able to withstand the test of time and the changes that will invariably happen.
I hope to be sharing all this with the love of my life while living out everyday in joy and passion. I also want to see my kids achieve their dreams. I want my country and humanity to achieve a better quality of life overall.
And I hope that music is everywhere.
All images by David Stewart.
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