Keyboardist and Grammy-winning producer Bobby Sparks II started out like a lot of young Southern musicians: playing music for church. A musical prodigy, he started playing drums at age 3 and took up organ at age 4. His mother was his first music teacher and steered him into church music, playing for church choirs, musical workshops, and vocal groups. His father, a veteran jazzman, introduced him to the giants of jazz and demanded that he learn about many types of music. Sparks discovered funk at age 9 and kept playing jazz but eventually came back to gospel.
While a music student at Eastfield College (Dallas, TX), he met gospel and R&B singer Kirk Franklin and began performing with him, starting with Franklin's famous song"Why We Sing." From 1992 to 2005, Sparks served as Franklin's music director, touring the world and working on several Billboard chart-topping albums.
Over the years, Bobby Sparks has worked with such luminaries as Roy Hargrove, Marcus Miller, George Benson, Lalah Hathaway, and many more. He received his first Grammy Award for producing Kirk Franklin's 1998 The Nu Nation Project and earned a second Grammy as co-producer of Fred Hammond's Free to Worship.
While he was working with Tower of Power, a friend introduced him to PreSonus products. "I decided to try out the gear and fell in love," he says. He was delighted with the PreSonus DigiMax 96k 8-channel preamp, and his appreciation of PreSonus gear deepened considerably when a friend brought a StudioLive 16.4.2 digital mixer over to record their album. "After hearing the quality of our record, I knew that I would be a PreSonus fan for life," says Sparks. "The quality is what I'm used to delivering, and I highly recommend PreSonus whenever I'm in a recording situation where my input is requested."
While his love of the StudioLive sound is first and foremost, Sparks appreciates the mixer's other advantages as well. "It's compact, portable, and easy to use," he states.
Onstage and in the studio, Sparks continues to rely on PreSonus. "PreSonus gear has been used on my tours with Tower of Power and on the live jazz record Bobby Sparks and Keith Anderon's Tribute to Jimmy Smith and Stanley Turentine," he notes.
As he always has, Sparks stays busy. A tour with Prince is planned, among other projects. So the next time you catch Sparks in concert—and you really should—or hear him on record, you can bet that PreSonus gear is somewhere in the mix.