“Music” isn’t something that was invented. Nobody can take credit for it. It’s always been here; an esoteric force with the ability to crystalize passing moments into lasting memories, and to forge new connections for any within earshot, be it to another person, a feeling or the cosmos. Picture a young kid who’s trying to figure out whistling through her own whiffs and hisses as cars whizz by on the interstate while she walks home from school, or the 72-year-old widower whose eyes well up with tears when he hears the first notes of his wedding song on the radio while he’s out to dinner with his grandkids. Or imagine a hushed audience comprised of different backgrounds, ages, nationalities and beliefs standing side-by-side in a shared serenity, all facing a man on stage with a guitar as the final notes of his song ring through the air.
It is moments and experiences like these — the precious beauty that’s discovered amongst the screaming chaos of everyday life — that artist Trevor Gordon Hall commits his mind, heart and fingers to. Whether it’s through his compositions, collaborative live performances, musical education, or basic interactions, Trevor is on a journey to enable engrossing musical possibilities, both communal and intimate, for people all around the world.
Through his work, Trevor has established himself as a unique and pioneering voice on the international stage, albeit one who speaks through his guitar and every sound that it’s capable of, rather than words. On top of a touring calendar that’s taken him through 17 countries and counting, his discography has amassed millions of listens and views through streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube, allowing his music to connect meaningfully with listeners across all borders, regardless of their language or location.
Since emerging on the fringe of the Philadelphia, USA, music scene as a young guitar virtuoso in the early 2000s, Trevor’s fingerpicking style of textured instrumentalism took little time to leave an impression on listeners. He was rated a top 30 under 30 guitarist by Acoustic Guitar Magazine and has shared the stage with or drawn praise from peers and guitar legends who helped blaze the path before him, including the likes of John Mayer, Steve Miller, Graham Nash, Steve Hackett, Dar Williams, Will Ackerman, Pat Martino, Stanley Jordan, Phil Keaggy, Tommy Emmanuel, Pierre Bensusan and Andy McKee to name a few. He’s also been featured on NPR, NBC, PBS, and many international outlets and publications around the world.
Trevor’s musical style is difficult to describe with words, and that’s partly what makes it so relevant. While he is a gifted guitarist capable of elaborate technicality, his compositions put expression and experience first, rather than technique for technique sake. He’s always striving to strike a chord that’s somewhere between adventurous and accessible. Many of his works are driven by highly textured soundscapes that engulf the listener in melody and rhythm, while others carve out a space for reflection and stillness. Rather than a genre or style, think of Trevor’s music as the sound of a man who is continually exploring every nook and cranny of his guitar for a new sound or a new way to connect meaningfully with big ideas in ways that others can relate to. It is experiential music that could be the soundtrack to your morning walk as the sun rises, lighting you up with inspiration for the day ahead. It could be the meditative melody that helps one maintain precision in their work, whether that’s delivering packages around town or performing open-heart surgery. It’s music that doesn’t tell you what to feel, but instead invites you to feel.
While cutting his teeth in the clubs and coffeehouses of the Philadelphia suburbs early in his career, Trevor caught the eye of nine-time Grammy award winning producer Joe Nicolo (James Taylor, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan) who produced two of Trevor’s releases, “Finding My Way” and a Christmas album “Let Your Heart Be Light.” As Trevor began to refine his sound and plot out his next compositions in a new decade, he began to collaborate with various engineers to develop an instrument that combined his own redesign of the kalimba, an African finger piano, with an acoustic guitar. The resulting “kalimbatar” fully demonstrated Trevor’s ability to innovate as a songwriter and unlocked a new suite of sounds and textures that he was able to weave into his music. While he had explored the kalimba on earlier recordings in a limited capacity, the kalimbatar phase of Trevor’s career was first fully realized on his 2011 Candyrat Records debut, “Entelechy”, which left a mark on the iTunes singer-songwriter and YouTube charts at the time, gathering millions of views and widespread reach.
Following on the success of Entelechy, Trevor worked with master luthier Sheldon Schwartz to redesign the kalimbatar. Once perfected, Trevor recorded his next album with longtime hero and decorated Grammy winner Will Ackerman, the founder of Windham Hill Records, which was a treasure trove of inspiration for Trevor on his musical journey. The resulting work, titled “Mind Heart Fingers,” was written to honor the acoustic guitar tradition that Windham Hill records popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. It was released in 2014 and peaked at #4 on the World International Music radio charts.
This was followed up in 2015 with the first of an EP series, titled “Kalimbatar Classics Vol. 1”, which featured arrangements of classical piano standards reimagined by Trevor on the kalimbatar. Never one to rest on his laurels however, Trevor swapped out the kalimbatar for electric guitars and electronic texturing with 2016’s “Late Night With Headphones, Vol. 1”, which revealed a moodier palette, and a different side of his artistic reach.
As he worked through each album on his artistic journey, mining new connections, it became clear that Trevor’s explorations of the guitar were leaving an impact on other artists around him. In 2018, he was invited to share a stage with several other guitar titans, most notably John Mayer and Steve Miller, to honor the retirement of Dick Boak, a renowned figure in the guitar world and an artist relations director for Martin Guitar. During that evening, Mayer offered his admiration to Trevor, praising his set and acknowledging Trevor’s usage of the kalimbatar as a humbling and refreshing reminder that the guitar is still revealing new approaches and sounds, even after all of these generations. Trevor’s hard work and innovative writing had earned him recognition within the pantheon of guitar luminaries.
With more command of his craft, came more shows around the world and more opportunities to make new musical connections with other artists. Trevor has recorded and performed with dozens of musicians across the continents on a variety of different projects and compositions. 2021’s “The Other World on Our Planet” is perhaps Trevor’s most dynamic example of branching out to new territory as a collaborator, which saw Trevor utilizing his artistry to support a different discipline: investigative journalism. The EP serves as a musical compliment to The Outlaw Ocean, a New York Times bestselling book about lawlessness on international waters by award-winning reporter Ian Urbina.
Outside of writing and performing, formal education has also played an integral role in Trevor’s journey. He’s currently an instructor for two of the world’s largest online guitar course websites, JamPlay.com and TrueFire.com and has trained hundreds of students to date.
Now a family man with a mortgage and an additional mouth to feed, Trevor finds himself on a new personal frontier that he’s eager to explore in his solo work. After several years of a life lived loudly — performing his music around the world and immersing himself in different cultures, sounds and experiences — Trevor retreated to the solitude of his Pennsylvania home for his next solo album, “This Beautiful Chaos.” Written in the early morning hours from the shed in his backyard while his wife and daughter slept, the album finds him at his most vulnerable, contemplating these growth experiences and channeling them into a set of warm, vibrant songs. This is the sound of an artist who is fully confident in his voice, free within his constraints and precise in what he has to say, seasoned by years of literally growing up on record and stage. It’s a tantalizing signpost of what he’s capable of in the years ahead.
As for what comes next, Trevor is already thinking about the songs he hasn’t written yet, and acknowledges that he isn’t capable of playing them … yet. He thrives on the discovery and lives for the possibility, and that’s what makes him such a thrilling artist to follow and grow old with in the years to come. His style is recognizably his own, but the next note he plays is never predictable, or the obvious choice. It’s exciting to consider all of the music that currently sleeps undiscovered in his fingertips, or remains locked away somewhere inside his guitar, waiting to be unearthed. This is a musical career you’ll want to stick around for, because the next show or the next song is always a new possibility.
Author: Chris March