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French-born, Los Angeles-based guitarist U-Nam is a popular performer whose soulful, groove-oriented sound owes a debt to his idol George Benson. He initially gained attention in the early 2000s with his albums The Past Builds the Future and Back from the 80's. The founder of his own Skytown Records, he has scored several Top 20 Billboard smooth jazz hits including a cover of the Crusaders' "Street Life," off 2007's Back from the 80's, and "Risin' to the Top," off 2014's C'est le Funk.
Born Emmanuel Abiteboul in 1970 in Paris, U-Nam first began playing guitar around age 12 and quickly discovered the music of artists like George Benson, Stevie Wonder, and George Duke. After high school, he spent three years studying at the prestigious CIM (Le Centre d'informations musicales) in Paris before launching his professional career as a studio musician. Following a decade of steady pop, R&B, and jazz session work, he signed with the Trippin 'n' Rhythm label and made his solo debut in 2005 with The Past Builds the Future, featuring appearances by Jeff Lorber, Rahsaan Patterson, and Phil Perry. Included on the album was the European hit "I'm Only U-Nam."
A sophomore album, Back from the 80's, followed in 2007 and found the guitarist interpreting classic 1980s jazz and R&B hits. Included was his take on the Crusaders' "Street Life," which hit number three on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart. Also in 2007, U-Nam moved to the United States and settled in Los Angeles. A year later, he issued his third studio album, Unanimity, which featured guest spots from Marva King and Najee, and included his cover of the George Duke song "Shine On." Along with his studio work, U-Nam stayed busy playing festivals around the world including the Catalina JazzTrax Festival, the Dave Koz and Friends Cruise, and the Dubai Jazz Festival.
In 2012, he founded his own Skytown Records and made his debut for the label with the star-studded Weekend in L.A.: A Tribute to George Benson. Joining him on the album were several longtime Benson associates including Patrice Rushen, Ronnie Foster, and Marcus Miller. Two years later, he returned with C'est le Funk, which spawned the Top 20 hits "Smoovin'," and "Risin' to the Top." Surface Level arrived in 2016, and featured the number 23 Billboard Smooth Jazz Song "Going for Miles." Following recordings with Bob Baldwin and Darryl Williams, U-Nam released his seventh studio album, 2019's Future Love. ~ Matt Collar