BIO & RESUME
A native of Chicago who grew up addicted to the music of Elton John, '70s and '80s one-hit wonders, and (courtesy of his sister Liz) Motown and Philly soul, Jonathan Widran's nearly two decade career as a music and entertainment journalist and a first-call freelance public relations writer began innocently enough at the second Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival in 1988 -- less than two years after Widran had graduated UCLA with a Bachelor's Degree in English. Event producer Art Good noted the intense passion for the R&B/pop based instrumental music that would become known as smooth jazz shown by Jonathan and his friend Dan Margules, a former journalist who became an award-winning independent filmmaker and screenwriter. Widran credits Margules with introducing him to contemporary jazz via the Rippingtons, David Benoit, and saxophonist Bill Bergman. Good offered them a shot at contributing to his Jazz Trax publication, but it folded soon after. Motivated by the opportunity, Margules began contributing to the San Diego-based Jazz Link and Widran started writing for L.A. Jazz Scene, Los Angeles' only jazz paper that was launched in 1987. Jonathan contributed features and album reviews and wrote his "Night Rhythms" column -- covering the local club and concert scene -- until 1995.
At the same time, he began his long-term roles as a contributing writer/editor to one of the U.S.'s top jazz publications, Jazziz Magazine, and the L.A.-based industry magazine Music Connection. Writing the "Contempo" column in Jazziz regularly since the early '90s, Widran has covered trends and artist development in contemporary jazz, pop, and world music, conducting hundreds of interviews with the genre's biggest artists (he was the first journalist ever to interview top stars Boney James and Peter White) and writing features and festival, concert, and disc reviews. He has also interviewed countless jazz legends, including Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Chick Corea, Joe Sample, Gary Burton, Arturo Sandoval, Eddie Palmieri, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Lee Ritenour, Spyro Gyra, Dave Grusin, Grover Washington, Jr., Gato Barbieri, and David Sanborn. Expanding his work in that genre, Widran was a regular contributor to Smooth Jazz News from its inception in 1999 through 2007, writing about dozens of smooth jazz stars as well as pop icons like Michael McDonald, Luther Vandross, and James Ingram. He currently has a contemporary jazz blog on the Concord Music website. He also has written performer bios for numerous U.S. jazz festivals and events, including Berks Jazz Fest, Playboy Jazz Festival, Capital Jazz Fest, The Smooth Cruise and The Smooth Jazz Cruise: The Greatest Party at Sea.
At Music Connection, Widran was the longtime writer of the "Crosstalk" column, covering top producers, engineers, and mixers in every genre, in addition to Oscar nominated and winning film composers (Jerry Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri, Stephen Warbeck). He also writes the publication's "Close-Up" column (covering one of the magazine's advertisers; studio owners, mastering facilities, etc. in each issue) and has done features and cover stories on pop and rock legends (Moody Blues, Styx, David Crosby, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Los Lobos, Grand Funk, Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Supertramp, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones Barbra Streisand, Bob Hope, the Bee Gees, Earth, Wind & Fire, Journey, Deftones, Yes, Herb Alpert, Chaka Khan, Pat Boone); many of today's biggest pop stars (Avril Lavigne, Fergie, Colbie Caillat, Switchfoot); and multi-media icons like Will Smith.
As a writer for Singer and Songwriter Universe, he has written features on the contemporary stars of country music (Luke Bryan, Rodney Atkins, Carrie Underwood), gospel (Kirk Franklin), rock (Lifehouse), and pop/R&B (Ciara, Backstreet Boys, Norah Jones, Cheetah Girls, Jonas Brothers, Cherish, James Morrison, Sara Bareilles, T-Pain, Mario), in addition to an interview with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame songwriters Gamble & Huff. Over the years, he has also been a regular contributor to All Music Guide, Music Biz, Downbeat, Billboard.com, iTunes (where he also compiled the "Smooth Jazz Essentials List"), Smoothvibes.com, Jazz Monthly.com and the Los Angeles Times. He has written thousands of reviews and done hundreds of feature stories on artists in literally every musical genre: rap, hardcore, punk, hip-hop, R&B, contemporary Christian, gospel, country, classical, pop classical, folk, Americana, Celtic, classic and alternative rock, pop, worldbeat, Latin pop and jazz, children's music, new age, electronica, chill/ambient and dance.
Widran is also a well-respected, first call-public relations writer who has worked for hundreds of major and independent record labels, including Capitol, Sony, Maverick, Warner Bros., Decca, Universal, RCA, BMG, Arista, Blue Note, Windham Hill, Real Music, and Concord Music. He writes regularly for major PR firms like Luck Media & Marketing, Rainmaker PR, Tom Estey Public Relations and Innovative Media. In addition to covering indie music and classic pop/rockers (Air Supply, Righteous Brothers, the Beach Boys, the Knack), his PR work includes promotional materials on pop culture icons, record companies, and music industry executives, restaurants and nightclubs, entertainment complexes, motion picture companies, retail distribution companies, and world-famous music education institutions. Widran has been a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences since 2004 and has served on and led several prominent committees.
In recent years, Widran was the editor for the lifestyle publication Wine and Jazz Magazine, writing features, doing “pairing reviews” and editing articles on music, wine and related lifestyle issues. He also worked regularly for Celebrity Branding Agency, writing articles on high profile businesspeople from the worlds of medicine, publishing, law and other professional areas for use in public relation campaigns; this including the running of articles in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. He has also written lifestyle features for The Huffington Post.
In addition, he has written five books unrelated to his experiences in the music business, including three novels (Soul Mates, Brother of the Bride, Spitting Image), a hard-hitting spiritual memoir (It's All Good: Emails from a Dying Best Friend) and Hooray for Holly-what?, subtitled "How to Fail in Showbiz and Live to Laugh About It," a humorous saga of his adventures pursuing a writing career in Tinseltown.
15128 ¼ Dickens St.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (818) 378-0828
Experience 1990-Present Writer/Music Journalist/Publicity Writer
2008-2012 Wine and Jazz Magazine California
• Feature Articles, interviews wine and jazz “pairings,” editing of music, wine, food, historical and lifestyle articles, copy editing
1990–Present Music Connection Magazine Los Angeles
Close-Up Column – recording/rehearsal studios, mastering facilities, retail, techproducts, web services, schools/instructors, music programs
Crosstalk – producers, engineers, mixers, film composers
Hundreds of features, club and disc reviews, cover stories
1990-Present Jazziz Magazine Boca Raton, FL
Monthly “Contempo” columnist
Trends/artist development in contemporary jazz, pop and world music
Hundreds of interviews/features and festival, concert and disc reviews
1990-Present Various publications, websites, companies
Freelance Journalist/Publicity Writer
Bios and press releases for hundreds of record labels and publicity companies, covering artists in all musical genres, executives, corporations, actors, comedians, fitness instructors, authors, speakers. Client List/references available upon request.
Regular contributions to numerous publications/websites: LA Times, Downbeat, Smooth Jazz News, Grammy Magazine, Music Biz (regular Music Business Education column, 2000-2002), LA Jazz Scene, All Music Guide (reviews also featured in six published anthologies), iTunes, Amazon, Sonicnet, Virgin Megastore, Music Express, Smoothvibes, Reading Eagle (daily newspaper, Reading PA)
Liner Notes for Numerous jazz/pop releases
Published Author with five books on amazon.com
Member of Grammy liner notes voting committee, 2004-2006
Over 70,000 website hits on Google
Fast, efficient, professional
Other Experience Auto sales
Teaching: Test Prep, ESL, Home Tutoring in all subjects
B.A., English, UCLA
Interests Voting Member of The Recording Academy (Led Various Committees), , nature photography, movies, politics, travel, hiking, comedy, singing, nutrition, spirituality, history, sports
Bobbi Cowan, Bobbi Cowan PR (818) 980-2372
Kurt Nishimura, Silverlake Media (213) 321-5033
Sheryl Feuerstein, SFPR (310) 650-8668
Mark Nardone, Senior Editor, Music Connection (818) 995-0101
Mike Nordskog, Publisher, Wine and Jazz (805) 844-7722
Lori Lousararian, Rogers & Cowan (310) 854-8104