Narada Michael Walden ( Michael Walden; born April 23, 1952) is an American musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He acquired the nickname Narada from Sri Chinmoy.
He began his career as a drummer, working primarily in the jazz fusion realm, appearing with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter and Weather Report, and Allan Holdsworth. After being mentored by Quincy Jones, he transitioned into a role as a songwriter and producer, working in the 1980s and 1990s with numerous R & B acts such as Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, as well as other singers across a number of genres. In 2020, he became the drummer for Journey, replacing Steve Smith. In 2021, he became one of two drummers in the band alongside the returning Deen Castronovo prior to leaving in 2022. He appears on the band’s album Freedom (2022), having co-produced and played on the album before his departure.
Walden was born in Plainwell, Michigan. He attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from 1970 to 1972.
Walden played with rock bands in Miami, Florida, after he graduated from college. He was a member of the ‘second incarnation’ of the Mahavishnu Orchestra from 1974 to 1976, playing drums and providing vocals. Atlantic released his first album, Garden of Love Light, in 1977 with a single that reached the R&B chart. This was followed by I Cry I Smile and The Awakening. The latter album reached No. 15 on the R&B chart. His singles continued to be popular in R&B during the 1980s. These included a duet with Patti Austin and an appearance on the soundtrack for the movie Bright Lights, Big City.
He built his studio in 1985 and produced music for The Temptations, Stacy Lattisaw, Aretha Franklin, Angela Bofill, Lisa Fischer, Sister Sledge, Herbie Hancock, Patti Austin, Whitney Houston, Clarence Clemons, George Benson, Sheena Easton, Kenny G, Lionel Richie, Al Jarreau, and Mariah Carey.
Walden has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards, winning three: Best R&B Song for “Freeway of Love” (1985); Producer of the Year, Non-Classical (1987); and Album of the Year for The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album (1993).
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