Ragan Whiteside’s thrill ride continues

Full Court Press is the third single release from Ragan Whiteside’s 2022 album Thrill Ride.

The single is a smooth groove that was co-written by Whiteside, Dennis Johnson and Bob Baldwin. Joining her on the track are guitarist Phil Hamilton, percussionist Curtis McCain, and drummer Rich Harrison.

There’s no doubt that Whiteside has become one of the smooth jazz genre’s most consistent artists. And thanks to her skill and creativity with the flute, as well as her presence on stage, some say she is at the top of her game. But I think there plenty more in the tank for Whiteside yet.

The Atlanta-based musician, songwriter, and vocalist has become one of very few women musicians to excel in the male-dominated instrumental sphere, garnering eight consecutive Top Ten Billboard airplay singles by 2022.

And she’s done it as an independent artist, releasing projects on Randis Music, the label she founded with her husband, producer, and composer Dennis Johnson.

In addition to her projects, Whiteside has been a busy collaborator. Over recent years the native New Yorker charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Airplay chart for her collaboration with Kim Scott’s 2022 remake of Ashford & Simpson’s 1978 mega-hit, I’m Every Woman along with Althea René, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz chart.

Originally from Mount Vernon, New York, Whiteside played drums, piano, and violin in elementary school before a desire to be in the marching band put the flute in her hand at age 8.

“They had this thing called Band Day where all the public schools would march in a parade through Mount Vernon. I said, ‘Oh. I need to be in this parade’.”

There were no violins in the marching band, so Whiteside was offered the flute.

“I did not want to play the flute. And it took me about a week to get a sound out of it,” she says.

Sticking with the flute she was later influenced by such diverse flute masters as jazz-classical player Hubert Laws, the late Latin jazz artist Dave Valentin, and the French classical flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal.

Whiteside received rigorous musical training that prepared her to play in the most prestigious symphony orchestras in the world, but after graduation, Whiteside admits she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.

Back home in Mount Vernon, Whiteside went to a local jazz club where keyboardist Bob Baldwin was headlining.

“I was sitting up front and I said, ‘Oh my God. This is what I want to do’.”

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