Chris Cornell, the legendary front man for pioneering bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, will be featured as the Keynote Q&A at the 11th annual Billboard Touring Conference, set for Nov. 19-20 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.
Though he resists genre labels, there is no doubt that Cornell is the chief architect of the '90s grunge movement that turned rock 'n roll upside down. Widely considered one of the elite vocalists in rock music, as well as a visionary pioneer, and a multi-Grammy Award winning musician, lyricist, and touring artist. Cornell's band Soundgarden, which re-united for a wildly successful tour in 2010, was the first Seattle band to a major record label, and the musical approach of Soundgarden and its contemporaries changed rock music forever over the course of five electrifying albums and numerous global tours. Always a man in musical motion, as the millennium turned, Cornell joined with three other musical pioneers from Rage Against the Machine to create Audioslave, a multi-platinum, multi-Grammy nominated rock supergroup. Always defying borders of all types, in 2005, Audioslave played a State Department-endorsed cultural exchange via a free show in Havana, Cuba for over 50,000 people, becoming the first American rock group to perform an open-air concert in the socialist republic of Castro's Cuba.
With his endlessly restless musicality, Cornell, has also made his mark as a solo artist, with three solo albums and extensive touring. In the film world, Cornell contributied songs to such move soundtracks as Singles, Great Expectations, and Mission Impossible II, and became the first American male artist commissioned to write, record and perform the theme song for the James Bond franchise with Casino Royale, and was hence honored by being presented to Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts. Cornell has also performed at the Kennedy Center Honors Gala in Washington DC, and in front of three U.S. Presidents.
Soundgarden's historic return to the live stage in 2010 was greeted with wild enthusiasm by rock fans, and the band has since released three critically acclaimed albums, including King Animal last year. Showcasing the depth and power of his songs, Cornell embarked on a sold-out solo acoustic world tour in 2011, birthing the live album Songbook. An innovator in the branding/digital space, Cornell forged the first-ever multimedia partnership between an artist and a commercial airline, Virgin America. He has impacted the world of philanthropy through his vigorous support of such causes as the Make A Wish Foundation, Stuart House, and MusiCares, as well as a close involvement with college-access and mentoring organization the Fulfillment Fund, raising funds for the Chris and Vicky Cornell Scholarship Fund. Other causes Cornell supports include Sam Childers' Angels of East Africa children's charity (Cornell's Gold Globe nominated song "The Keeper," written for the film Machine Gun Preacher was exclusively available upon release as part of the "Donate to Download" campaign). Additionally, the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation, which fights to protect the most vulnerable children, works to raise awareness and mobilize support for children facing tough challenges.
"Though he would be the last guy to tout his impact, Chris Cornell is truly making the world a better place through his music, his philanthropy, and his cultural contributions," says Billboard's Ray Waddell, who will conduct the Q&A with Cornell. "Chris Cornell changed rock music forever, in a necessarily noisy way, but perhaps Chris's most significant impact comes from his quieter moments. This is a thinking man's rocker, and his insights on culture, the state of music and, of course, the challenges and rewards of touring in a broad range of formats, will make for a fascinating session, and a rare opportunity for the industry to hear from one of the most important voices in music. Might I add that he's also one of the best damn rock singers on the planet."
While the artist's perspective is always a highly-lauded component of the Billboard Touring Conference, the gathering also provides a unique opportunity to hear from the most powerful and creative voices in the industry. This year, the Touring Conference added four new Q&As featuring some of the live business' most forward-thinking and insightful executives. The new "10 Questions With...." sessions will feature four execs from Billboard's annual Power 100 ranking of the most powerful people in music: Marc Geiger, worldwide head of music, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment; Rob Light, managing partner, Creative Artists Agency; Pasquale Rotella, founder/CEO, Insomniac Events; and Bob Roux, co-president, North American Concerts, Live Nation.
"Though the combined efforts of these four executives directly generates hundreds of millions of box office annually, I know from interviewing them countless times over the past quarter century that the thoughts and actions of these four executives will without a doubt play a huge role in how the live music business will evolve in the coming years," says Waddell. "What they say and how they think will directly impact everyone in the room, so I suggest attendees take notes."
Register today for the 2014 Billboard Touring Conference & Awards. Use promo code BIZ14 for $50 off current rates.