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Bernie Chiaravalle

Artist Info
Bernie Chiaravalle

guitarist, vocalist

M-Audio Gear :
ProKeys 88

Official Website:

Bernie Chiaravalle (pronounced "shaira velley") was born August 11 in Port Huneme, CA where his Dad was stationed in the Navy. He moved to Marin County, CA at the age of six. At nine he started taking piano lessons and began playing guitar at 11.

Growing up in the Marin County music scene, Chiaravalle formed a local popular band called Logos and played extensively throughout the Bay Area. He also rehearsed literally across the street from Huey Lewis and the News (before they were the News) and played with them on occasion.

In 1985 Chiaravalle moved from Marin County to Los Angeles as a guitarist with the Bay Area band Page One. As the group was disbanding, Chiaravalle met Ambrosia's David Pack. "I sent him a tape," Chiaravalle recalls, "and immediately we hit it off and began hanging out together and writing and playing songs." In the meantime, Pack was telling Michael McDonald about the guitarist. McDonald happened to be looking for a guitar player for his band and Chiaravalle auditioned and got the job. He’s been playing with him since 1988.

McDonald and Chiaravalle sparked up a songwriting relationship that has lasted since. They co-wrote four songs for McDonald’s critically acclaimed Blue Obsession which was released in 2000. Chiaravalle also produced two songs for that record as well. He also co-wrote “On This Night” for Michael’s In The Spirit album released in 2001.

In early 1998 Chiaravalle relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. "I have two small children and I felt this would be a great place for them," he says adding, "and I love the music scene here. There are so many great writers and I'm thrilled to be working with some of them".

Besides McDonald, some of those writers are Jon Vezner, Larry Carlton, Jon Goodwin and David Pack. June 1999 brought Chiaravalle a No.1 hit song, "Speak", on the CHR charts. Also he had a song called "Til I Hurt You" on Larry Carlton's Fingertips. It sat on the top of the NAC charts for several weeks and was co-written with Carlton and McDonald.

Chiaravalle has released two solo albums, Driven By Desire (1996) and Life As We Know It (2002).

Bernie Chiaravalle
Guitarist Bernie Chiaravalle has performed and worked with Michael McDonald for 20 years and has released several solo albums

Chiaravalle on M-Audio hardware: “I use the FireWire 1814 with my desktop computer in my studio and the FireWire 410 for my laptop on the road.  I have a Yamaha O1V digital mixing board, which I sub out into the 1814 and then into the computer.  I also connect my ProKeys 88 via MIDI in and out of the 1814. I produced an album of 12 songs for Amy Holland McDonald (two-time Grammy nominee and wife of Michael McDonald) using the 1814.  We recorded all of the basic tracks, vocals and overdubs here in my home studio. The 1814 is a great I/O box with a great tone.

“In the project I also used the ProKeys 88 for the keyboard overdubs—I used some of the internal ProKeys 88 presets, which sounded fantastic. I’ve enjoyed using the TAMPA preamp on bass, acoustic guitars and vocals. We recorded Amy’s voice through the TAMPA preamp as well as bass and acoustic guitars.

“I bring a laptop on the road with my FireWire 410 along with Cubase 4.  I’d say that a couple of songs a year actually get done on the road, and the 410 makes this process so much easier.”

Chiaravalle on M-Audio software: “I love GForce’s M-Tron!  I’m a Beatle freak and love the Mellotron samples!

Why M-Audio? “One evening Michael McDonald called me and asked if he could demo a song at my studio.  His friend Kenny Loggins was in town and they had just written a new song “It’s About Time” and they wanted to lay it down.  The amazing thing was hearing Michael and Kenny sing in my studio—truly remarkable!  The icing on the cake was when Kenny asked me to play some guitar on the track—my M-Audio equipment captured it all!

“M-Audio’s products have been so reliable for me on a regular basis, which changes the way I work because I have the gear working for me and I’m not troubleshooting like I’ve done with other setups. I think that M-Audio’s products have made it easier for musicians and writers to put together a great home and/or professional studio. M-Audio products have made my life in my recording studio so much easier to be productive when inspiration strikes.”

His songwriting process: “I like to start with a strong melody and chord progression usually on guitar or piano.  The lyrics usually reveal themselves as I develop the track on my computer.  I used to write for the sake of writing—these days I need to be motivated by pure inspiration.  Writing with a computer opens up a whole new world to me.  It is as much of a writing tool as an instrument to me.”

What he is proud of: “I am most proud of my association with Michael McDonald as his guitar player and co-writer since 1988.  Next year will mark my 20th anniversary in his band.  I’m also very proud of the 2000 release of Michael’s album Blue Obsession on which I co-produced two songs and wrote four.  I am also extremely proud of a Christmas song we wrote together for his In The Spirit album called “One This Night” in 2001.