Drew Schultz is a music fan first.
Growing up in a musical family, he was exposed early and often to the sounds of Motown, Classic Soul, Funk, and Jazz. While attending the public school system in Shaker Heights, Ohio, he was enveloped in massive music programs that included multiple wind ensembles, orchestras, jazz bands, choirs, musicals, percussion ensembles, and an expansive 300 member marching band. His teacher at the Shaker district was Bill Ransom, a drummer/percussionist who toured and recorded with acts including Gerald Levert, Najee, Patrice Rushen, Beth Hart, and Diane Reeves. Ransom helped Drew become a well rounded drummer and hand percussionist with experience reading music, improvising, and performing in countless genres and studio/stage situations. He also studied with Paul Simon's drummer/percussionist, Jamie Haddad.
While in High School, Schultz was taken under the wing of two musicians who would help shape his career - original Earth Wind & Fire member Ralph Johnson, and Funk Brothers drummer Uriel Jones, who played on countless number one hits by almost every artist on Motown Records in the 60s and 70s. Johnson and Jones acted as musical mentors to Schultz, giving him advice on his playing and career path. The first articles that Drew wrote and published in Modern Drummer Magazine were spotlights on Uriel and Ralph, who continue to inspire him today.
In 2005, Schultz attended a five week session at the Berklee College of Music, where he studied with Prince / Justin Timberlake drummer John Blackwell, and performed in multiple ensembles. In 2006 he was accepted into the jazz performance program at New York University, where he studied and played with artists including Lenny Pickett of Tower of Power / SNL, Tony Moreno, John Scofield, and more. After assisting in moderating the official Earth Wind & Fire website forums, he was flown to Los Angeles to work with EWF founder/singer/songwriter/drummer Maurice White to assist with a web interview project, interviewing Maurice about his own career.
While attending NYU, Drew founded his own giant funk monstrosity, The New FAMF, which would go on to become the official NYU R&B Ensemble before becoming The Drew Schultz Funk Machine (Jent LaPalm on bass, Emilio Tostado on guitar, John Guari on keys, and Chris Ams on vocals). The Funk Machine held a multi-year residency at the legendary Bitter End night club in NYC, and was a featured part of Don Was' All Star Review at the 2013 Concert of Colors Festival. The band is featured on the bulk of Schultz's releases, especially the stripped down "Dovetail Tapes" live EP, and has performed on tour in NYC, Cleveland, Detroit, and even overseas in Prague.
During his time at NYU, Schultz met the legendary Four Tops at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Tops drummer Benjamin "Butch" Corbett and conductor George Rountree allowed Schultz to sit in, and it wasn't long before Schultz played his first show with the Four Tops on hand percussion in Peekskill, NY at the age of 19. This was the beginning of a five year stretch with the Tops where Schultz served as archivist, hand percussionist, touring drummer, and even Musical Director / Conductor across multiple world tours. His work with the Tops opened the door for him to perform alongside countless legends including Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Miracles, The Dramatics, The Contours, Freda Payne, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Chairmen of the Board, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Harold Melvin's Blue Notes, Dennis Edwards' Temptations Review, "Iceman" Jerry Butler, The O'Jays, The Velvelettes, and many more. While alternating between touring with the Tops, performing with other acts, and studying at NYU, Schultz interned under Harry Weinger at Motown/UMe, leading to pre-production engineering credits on projects by Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, David Ruffin & Jimmy Ruffin, Barry White, and more. In 2013 he was the ProTools assistant in a "Classic Albums" course at NYU co-taught by Harry Weinger and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of The Roots. Drew also helped run guest logistics for the Project Harmony event in NYC featuring Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and Paul McCartney, unveiling a refurbished grand piano from the Motown Museum.
In 2012, Drew released his debut album entitled "Back To Class." The CD consists of 16 original songs written, produced, and arranged by Schultz, with 50% of profits benefiting the music programs of the Detroit Public Schools. Featured artists on the album include the Four Tops, Funk Brothers, Melvin Davis, Spyder Turner, Pat Lewis, Lenny Pickett, McKinley Jackson, James Jamerson Jr, Dennis Coffey, Ken Knox of Chairmen of the Board, Joey Kingfish, Rob Carter, and more. The album was featured in newspapers across Detroit, earning Schultz the nickname "Kid Motown" from the Detroit News. In 2013, a series of Back To Class singles was launched to continue the education-advocacy cause of the original album. Entries in the series have featured Funk Brothers' guitarist Eddie Willis, Northern Soul legend Buddy Smith, Detroit Blues powerhouse Thornetta Davis, Mark Scott of The Miracles, and more. In 2014, the Back To Class project was extended to the Chicago Public Schools with the release of "Please (Don't Give Up On Your Dreams)" b/w "Waiting Game," an A-and-B-side digital single paying tribute to Curtis Mayfield featuring Reginald Torian of The Impressions, Cecil Jones of "The Story of Curtis Mayfield," and Lee Goodness of Mayfield's touring band. "Dreams" was performed live with Schultz as a part of Torian's sold out 2015 All Things Mayfield Revue in Chicago.
In 2016, Drew rejoined the Tops & Temptations on tour for a six month stint as the Four Tops' musical director and drummer, and playing occasional dates on percussion with the Temptations. In 2017, his song "What I'd Do For You" (feat. The Four Tops & James Jamerson Jr.) was featured in the premier episode of Comedy Central's Detroiters TV series. 2017 also saw performances with Aretha Franklin, J.J. Barnes, Drew's own band The Broken Habits, and an online appearance with Vulfpeck. Schultz released a benefit album, Tribute to Funk Brother Eddie Willis, raising funds for the Motown guitarist whose licks and riffs have graced countless hit songs by the Tops, Tempts, Supremes, Stevie, Marvin, Martha, Smokey, and more. The live album features appearances by Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey, Motown arranger Paul Riser, Motown engineer Ed Wolfrum, legendary bassist Ralphe Armstrong, Motown artists Carolyn Crawford and Spyder Turner, the Funk Brothers' touring band, Eddie Willis himself, and more.
Drew is currently teaching at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (aka DIME), a brand new music institute in the heart of the Motor City that offers Bachelor's Degrees in Performance for Guitar, Bass, Vocals, and Drums, as well as Songwriting and Music Industry Studies. Drew is an adjunct professor in the Performance, Songwriting, and Music Industry Studies programs delivered in partnership with Metropolitan State University of Denver. He has written curriculum and taught college courses in Live Performance Workshop, Rhythm Studies, Chart Writing and Notation, Session Styles, Electronic Music Composition, Repertoire & Hit Song Analysis, Song Arrangement, Artist Studies, and more. While at DIME, Drew has worked, taught, and played alongside students and stars, with guests to the college including George Clinton, Madonna, Michael Bolton, Lady GaGa's MD/Bassist Kern Brantley, Motown artist KEM, and Usher.
Keep an eye out for more from Drew Schultz!