in 1995, just 23 years old and not even a full year out of college, camara kambon took home one of the most coveted awards in the entertainment world, an Emmy, for the music he composed for the hbo film, sonny liston: the mysterious life and death of a champion.
such an achievement might be the capstone to any musician’s career but in many ways it was just the beginning for kambon, who has lent his musical touch to an array of films, tv shows and recording artists. a prodigy and eclectic, he has shared the stage or the studio with performers ranging from dizzy gillespie to dr. dre, the baltimore symphony orchestra to mary j. blige and eminem.
trained as a jazz and classical pianist, his compositions move easily from the lush strings of an orchestra to the pounding beats of hip-hop and r & b.
he followed up his Emmy win with two more nominations for scoring sports-related hbo films and he earned 3 grammy nominations in 2001 for co-writing the blige no. 1 hit “family affair’’ and for his keyboard work on nelly furtado’s “whoa, nelly!’’ and eve’s “scorpion.’’
some of his most prolific and genre-bending work can be found in his film and tv scores, including the score for any given sunday, diary of a mad black woman, madea’s family reunion, and the theme to the cw network’s girlfriends.
kambon began playing music when he was 10 months old, his mother reports, as he would rhythmically tap on his high chair. he started studying drums, moved on to piano when he was 4 and composed his first musical riffs by 6. at 11 he enrolled in peabody prep in his native baltimore, studying jazz and classical piano and composition.
it was around this age when he had the kind of seminal experience that charted his future.
at a music festival in baltimore kambon was summoned to the stage by none other than dizzy gillespie. they agreed to play “st. thomas,’’ the sonny rollins tune, and kambon began tinkling out the notes on the piano under mr. gillespie’s watchful eye. suddenly, the whole band crashed in with full musical force, mr. gillespie’s trumpet riding high above it all.
”at the time, the significance of that moment wasn’t clear to me. but, in retrospect, this was my first introduction to “being in the right place at the right time.”
he went on to graduate from the prestigious berklee college of music in boston, where he composed music for the Emmy nominated films, dancing: new worlds, new forms and malcolm x:make it plain.
today, kambon heads inflx entertainment, a musical production company in hollywood, ca.
“i’ll never forget something oliver stone told me.” he said, ‘your art is a direct reflection of who you are and where you’ve been. so when you show me your art, i see where you’ve been.’ that’s what i convey in my music: my life story.”