ABOUT FREDERIC YONNET

Urban jazz harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet plays an instrument many have owned, but few have mastered. Originally from France, Yonnet is regarded as one of the most talented and innovative harmonica players on the international music scene today. 

With each performance, stereotypical walls come tumbling down as Yonnet presents the harmonica in a refreshing and modern context. It’s stylish. It’s cool. It’s brilliant. His impressive style and electrifying stage presence have led to recordings, tours and performances with a wide range of musicians including Grammy Award winners and music icons Stevie Wonder and Prince, award-winning songwriter David Foster, UK sensation Ed Sheeran, pop-idols the Jonas Brothers, soul singers John Legend, Erykah Badu, Anthony Hamilton, John Mayer and India.Aire, as well as The National Symphony Orchestra and The Dayton Philharmonics. Rolling Stone magazine referred to Yonnet as “Prince’s killer harmonica player” and praise from other influencers affirm his mission to change the way music enthusiasts and the industry regard the “pocket” instrument.

Just listen to his sound. It funks. It rocks. It hips and hops. It grooves. It sways. It testifies. It prays. It has a reverence for gospel, blues and jazz while appealing to a generation bred on pop rock and hip-hop.

Citing Stevie Wonder as a mentor and friend, Yonnet was honored when Wonder tapped him to perform harmonica parts on the Songs in the Key of Life Performance Tour, 2014-15. Wonder performed the entire double album as part of the 43-city tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of the most critically acclaimed album of his career. On the tunes, “Have a Talk with God” and “Mama’s Call”, Yonnet demonstrates his mastery of the diatonic harmonica by expertly mimicking the chromatic melody Wonder originally performed on the studio album. “He’s so good at playing harmonica that another man good at harmonica hired him,” said Dave Chappelle during an introduction of Yonnet. 

Born in Normandy, France to a Parisian father and French Guyanese Creole mother, Yonnet lived in and around Paris most of his life. As a child, he and his dad performed comedy routines in theaters throughout France and by 14, he decided to literally march to the beat of his own drum. After a short stint as a drummer, Yonnet revisited an instrument he had received as a child, the harmonica. “I got kicked out of bands because I kept trying to play the melody on the drums,” says Yonnet. “On the harmonica, I can play both the melody and the rhythm. Plus it’s lighter to carry.”

These days, the U.S.-based Yonnet travels with pedal boards, mixers, amps, microphones and more than 50 diatonic harmonicas. “I’m pretty intense on the harmonica and I like to have the ‘sharpest ax’ at all times.” To be sure, he’s not afraid to wield it. There aren’t many musicians who would go head-to-head with Wonder on the harmonica, but Yonnet has proved himself more than capable. “Frédéric Yonnet — a Wonder disciple — had a crazy harmonica duel that almost sent Stevie flying off the stage in a frenzy,” said Fox News following their performance at Madison Square Garden. Without a doubt, Yonnet’s friendship with Wonder has been his biggest musical inspiration.

At the same show in 2007, Prince first witnessed Yonnet’s expert musicianship, exhilarating panache and inexhaustible stage presence. It would be months before their paths crossed again, but when they did, Prince seized the opportunity to have Yonnet jam with him and his band at a house party. “Genius recognizes genius,” said saxophonist Mike Phillips, who performed with them that night and witnessed the energy that Yonnet brought to the band. After that, Yonnet recorded with Prince and performed with him as a featured guest on tour and during several televison appearances, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and on Prince’s 20Ten European tour.

While Yonnet enjoys the excitement of performing with some of the world’s greatest music legends, he knows that it’s the technical mastery of his instrument — along with innovative collaborations and solo projects — that will earn him recognition as one of the greatest harmonica players in the world.

DISCOGRAPHY

Discography

Recordings with Others

  • w/ Grand Corps Malade, Funamblule, 2013
  • w/ Vieux Farka Touré and Idan Raichel, Touré-Raichel Collective, March 27, 2012
  • w/ Anthony Hamilton, Back to Love, “Mad” December 13, 2011
  • w/ Kindred the Family Soul, Love Has No Recession, July 28, 2011
  • w/ Prince, All Day – All Night – All Week, 4CD’s Live in Paris, November 2009
  • w/ Jonas Brothers, Lines, Vines and Trying Times, “What Did I Do To Your Heart,” released June 16, 2009
  • w/ Randy Jackson, Randy Jackson’s Music Club, Vol. 1, “Wang, Dang, Doodle,” released March 11, 2008
  • w/ David Dyson, Unleashed, “Southern Fried Go Go,” 2008
  • Unwrapped the Ultimate Box Set, “Tainted,” 2006
  • Middle C Music, Jazz All Stars, “Blues on Middle C;” “Jessie’s Blues,” “Peter’s Rhythm,” “Little Wing” and “Prelude and Samba,” April 5, 2005
  • Borders Jazz You Must Own, Volume 1, “Amazing Grace,” Bethlehem Archives/Avenue Jazz, 2001

Live Guest Performances

  • Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint featuring Frederic Yonnet and the Band w/ No Name, 2015-Present
  • w/ Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud, aired on ABC’s Home for the Holiday, Verizon Center, Sept 2015
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life Performance Tour, 2014-2016
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys, Los Angeles, CA, December 17, 2011 & 2013
  • w/ Dave Chappelle, Yoshi’s San Francisco, CA, July 7, 2012
  • w/ Mavis Staples and Raheem Devon, Howard Theatre Grand Opening, April 19, 2012
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, MLK Memorial Dedication, Washington, DC, August 28, 2011
  • w/ Grand Corps Malade, Casino de Paris, Paris, France, March 28-30, 2011
  • w/ Prince, Welcome to America Tour, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, February 2011
  • w/ Prince, European Tour, July 4-25, 2010
  • w/ Erykah Badu, Olympia, Paris, France, July 23, 2010
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, Bercy, Paris, France, July 4, 2010
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, Verizon Center, Washington, DC, May 26, 2010
  • w/ David Foster, Child Help Benefit, Warner Theater, Washington, DC, aired April 13, 2010 on BET/Centric
  • w/ Prince, The Sporting, Monte Carlo, Monaco, August 16, 2009
  • w/ Prince, Nokia Theater, Los Angeles, CA, March 28, 2009
  • w/ Prince, Conga Room, Los Angeles, CA, March 28, 2009,
  • w/ Prince, The Avalon, Los Angeles, CA, February 22, 2009
  • w/ Prince, Hotel Gansevoort, New York, NY, October 13, 2008
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA, May 2, 2008
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, Verizon Center, Washington, DC, October 30, 2007
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, November 17, 2007
  • w/ Stevie Wonder, Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, MA, September 20, 2007
  • w/ John Legend, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia PA, July 26, 2007
  • w/ India.Arie, Strathmore, Bethesda, MD, October 6, 2007
  • w/ Erykah Badu, Kanawha Plaza, Richmond, VA, August 17, 2007
  • w/ Dave Chappelle, Bluesfest, Yellow Springs, OH, 2006
  • w/ Dave Chappelle, Block Party 10-City Tour, 2006