Vocalist John Finley, has a career spanning 6 decades as a hit songwriter and a dynamic performer of r&b, jazz, blues, gospel and popular music in Los Angeles and his native Toronto. This summer he'll release an album entitled “John Finley, Soul Singer", produced by Lou Pomanti, highlighting his roots expressed in the genres John so joyfully reveres.
“Let Me Serenade You”, John Finley sings and writes. His extraordinary soulful style has been a testament to his musical life and career.
At age 17, he worked his first professional engagements, performing the music of his favorite blues and R&B artists while discovering the music of jazz & gospel greats such as Monk, Davis, Coltrane, Mahalia, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and the Staples Singers.
By age 20, John had become a potent soul singer in Toronto's Jon & Lee & the Checkmates, pouring out his searing personal pains and joys with gospel fervor. His performances caught the eye of hit producer, Paul Rothchild, who recruited John for an idea that would become ELEKTRA’s hit recording group, Rhinoceros. Working with other emerging young artists encouraged John’s innate songwriting talent and afforded him the opportunity to meet and work with many accomplished gospel, soul, rock and blues acts.
In the 70’s, John settled in Los Angeles where he penned songs for Three Dog Night, Ben Vereen, Ivan Neville and Melissa Manchester and many others and performed as a studio vocalist on projects with Andre Fischer (Rufus, Natalie Cole), Michael MacDonald, Donna Summers, Joe Sample (the Crusaders) and many others.
John has also now spent over 35 years performing within the Southern California gospel music community with Alexander Hamilton & the Voices of Inspiration and in concert settings with greats such as the Rev. James Cleveland, Andre Crouch, Daniabelle and Walter & Edwin Hawkins as well as the L.A. Mass Choir. He’s been a featured soloist on recordings with the Voices of Inspiration and the Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir.
During the 90’s, John’s interest returned to another of his earliest roots: Jazz. With associate Danny Ironstone, John embarked on the SOULBOP project. This concept began with reinventing historic classics such as “Blue Skies” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” in addition to original pieces in musical partnership world renowned personnel such as Phil Upchurch.
After the millennium, John returned with increased frequency to his native Toronto, reconnecting with the revived Checkmates, a reunion of Rhinoceros and many greats of the Toronto Sound who’d been a part of his musical life in Canada. He’s performed at major venues such as Massey Hall & the Kitchener Blues Festival, on Canada’s premier jazz station, JAZZFM91, at LUMINATO and was featured in Bravo Canada's 60's music documentary, "Yonge Street (Rock & Roll Stories)".
Over the past 5 years, Jaymz Bee of JAZZFM91 has become a central figure in John’s reborn Canadian career. Jaymz along with partner Lorenzo DiGianfelice, with their newly formed Vesuvius Music have taken John into the studio with award winning producer, Lou Pomanti to record “John Finley, Soul Singer”.
And now, the show goes on!.
John fronts Toronto Soul icons, Jon & Lee & the Checkmates twice opeing for the Rolling Stones. In October `65, John & the group make an emphatic statement on their second show with the Stones.
John meets Paul Rothchild of ELEKTRA Records, who’ll later invite John to Los Angeles to be a member Rhinoceros. The group records 3 albums, all charted on the Billboard Hot 100 as the group tours the U.S. and Canada.
As a songwriter, John works with several major music publishers such as 20th Century Fox Music and Warner Music. His “Let Me Serenade You” becomes a hit single by Three Dog Night.
John performs as a soloist in the L.A. Gospel music scene with Alexander Hamilton, the Rev. James Cleveland and many other nationally renowned gospel music artists.
John is produced by Bobby Eli of Philadelphia International for 20th Century Records.
Studio vocal work for recording artists, producers such as Gene McDaniels and Andre Fischer and jingle companies (national spots), movie music staff work with Paul Rothchild while he continues performing in the gospel music field
Co-writes with Kenny Lee Lewis (member, Steve Miller Band) “Why Can’t I Fall in Love”, recorded by Ivan Neville for New Line Pictures’ “Pump Up The Volume”.
Co-produces “SOULBOP!” Album with Danny Ironstone (former Anita Baker M.D.), featuring famed Jazz and R&B alumni such as Phil Upchurch, Michael Daigeau and Louis Van Taylor in L.A. , subsequently performing throughout SoCal at various jazz & blues festivals.
Begins his return to Toronto, performing locally, opening for rockabilly legend, Ronnie Hawkins at Massey Hall.
John is featured in Bravo Canada’s “Yonge Street (rock and roll stories)” with interviews, historical clips and closing the 3 part miniseries performing over the 1964 Levon & the Hawks tracking of the James Brown classic, “Please Please Please” produced by legendary CHUM radio alumni, Duff Roman.
John performs as part of the “Soulsville (the music of stax)” Review led by award winner, Lance Anderson.
John is introduced to producer Jaymz Bee (Vesuvius Music) while “sitting in” on a Lou Pomanti gig. Jaymz makes every effort to bring John to the forefront of the Toronto scene, by booking him and making introductions Toronto's fine musical community. John enters a partnership agreement with Vesuvius Music (Jaymz Bee and Lorenzo DiGianfelice for the recording his upcoming album "Soul Singer" produced by the legendary Lou Pomanti.