When Beyoncé Knowles takes the stage at the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, her three horn players are going to shine. Two saxophonists and one trumpet player – all Cannonball artists – make up the horn section of Suga Mama, Beyonce’s all-girl band.
Katty “Kat” Rodriguez Harrold (tenor and baritone sax), Adison Evans (alto sax), and Crystal J. Torres (trumpet) are outstanding musicians by themselves, but combine as a tour-de-force section with a trademark crisp, powerful sound. Their Big Bell Stone Series instruments project a powerful, soulful sound that adds to the energy of the group.
A noteworthy aspect of the group is their matching black horns. The Cannonball alto, tenor, and bari saxophones and the trumpet are all matte black with polished black highlights: The Raven finish.
We asked Tevis Laukat, President of Cannonball Musical Instruments, to tell us about Beyonce’s band, the Super Bowl, and “those black saxophones and trumpet.”
First of all, just how did Beyoncé’s horn section end up playing Cannonball Ravens?
“Crystal [Torres] met us at the NAMM Show last year, where she fell in love with our Big Bell Raven trumpet. She’s been playing it with Beyoncé for a year now,” says Tevis.
Beyoncé liked it and wanted all black horns in her band, so Kat asked her repair technician for recommendations. Tevis recalls, “Her tech told her: ‘There’s only one – the Cannonball Raven.’ So they called me.”
What exactly is “the Raven?”
“The Raven is our top model,” states Tevis. The Raven – a unique finish that’s part of the Big Bell Stone Series pro line – is beautiful blend of shiny black keys on a matte black body. A proprietary blend of processes create a depth to the finish ”that really makes the horns stand out,” notes Tevis. The keys are polished, then black-nickel plated. The body is also black-nickel plated, but with a matte treatment. The contrast, in addition to engraving, black pads on the Raven saxophones, and other beautiful detailing, make the Raven especially stunning under stage lights.
How many Cannonball endorsers play “the Raven” sax or trumpet?
“A lot! We have over 150 artists that are part of our family, and many of them play the Raven. But we make a lot of other finishes that match up to individual players differently, so there’s a lot of variety out there,” states Tevis.
He adds, “What a lot of people don’t know is that we don’t pay our artists to play our horns, and we don’t give horns away. All of our endorsers pay for their horns.”
So while big businesses paid up to $4 million for a 30-second commercial spot in the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII, the relatively small Salt Lake City-based Cannonball was actually paid for their saxes and trumpet featured in the halftime show. “Our artists all play our horns because they want to, not because we pay them to,” says Tevis Laukat. “And we’re proud of that.”
Cannonball also prides itself on durable construction. “These artists are almost constantly on tour, and they need horns that hold up well. I get calls all the time from endorsers saying, ‘Hey Tevis, I just got back from a 6-month tour, took my horn in to have my repair tech check it, and he said it was still in perfect adjustment!’ Our artists and thousands of other musicians are counting on their Cannonballs to perform night after night. We build our instruments to last.”
“We have over 400 dealers worldwide, and most of them keep Ravens in stock,” says Tevis. Find your local Cannonball dealer by clicking here, find out more about Cannonball at our website, and connect with other Cannonball fans on our Facebook page.