Ryan Waters’ long list of accomplishments as a musician and performer directly reflects his desire to create music with integrity without regard for convention and genre. Ryan joined Sade in 2000 as lead guitarist in their legendary live band and has since performed for millions of fans all over the world. He has also collaborated with many other top names in music, all the while continuing to write, produce and record original material.
Ryan discovered and honed his talents in his hometown of Salem, Oregon where he started on the family piano at the age of five and soon began studying guitar at the local music store. By the time Ryan was twelve years old, he was already playing guitar in a rock band that routinely performed in bars and nightclubs. Through the rest of his school years, Ryan continued to grow as a musician, playing in various rock, r&b, and blues bands. During this time he also began to write songs, which fueled his desire to sing and at sixteen, started the first band in which he was both lead vocalist and lead guitarist. It was also with this group that he began producing his own recordings.
After high school, Ryan moved to New York City and quickly became a familiar face on the progressive, urban live music scene. He co-founded a musical collective called Earthdriver that brought together many of the city’s top underground artists and he produced the groups’ debut independent release, No One’s Slave. Ryan also recorded and toured with the Harlem-based soul artist, Olu whose album, Soul Catcher was co-produced by Sade saxophonist/guitarist, Stuart Matthewman. In 2000, after hearing him play with Olu, Matthewman asked Ryan to join Sade to help promote their album, Lovers Rock. The band toured throughout 2001 and in 2002 released a live album and DVD called, Lovers Live.
In 2002, Ryan relocated to Atlanta, GA and resumed working on original material while continuing to collaborate and perform with various artists such as CeeLo Green, India.Arie, Dionne Farris, Anthony David, and Roberta Flack. He released two original solo albums between 2003 and 2005 and in 2006 joined the hip-hop band, Heavy Mojo which soon signed a record deal with Motown/Universal. The band recorded an album with producer, Billy Hume and toured heavily in 2007 and 2008, including a tour with Fishbone. Finding the label’s influence over the band creatively restrictive, Ryan and two of his bandmates, drummer, Marlon Patton and keyboardist/vocalist, Damion Goodpaster left to form a rock band which they called, ill. They independently released their debut album, Down In Deep in 2009.
In 2010, Ryan rejoined Sade for the release of their album, Soldier of Love, which debuted and spent 4 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Album Charts. In 2011, Sade released a greatest hits compilation called, The Ultimate Collection which contained a cover of the Thin Lizzy classic, Still in Love With You that featured a guitar solo by Ryan. That year, the band embarked on a 106-show world tour and played to over 800,000 people on four continents. The concert was recorded and released as a live album and concert video entitled, Bring Me Home, which also debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.
After returning home from the Sade tour, Ryan and ill released their second album, Gotten Gains on the Dutch-based label, GlassVille Records and completed a European tour in support of it in May of 2012.
Later that year, Ryan relocated to Seattle, WA and began working with vocalist/songwriter, Liv Warfield as her lead guitarist and musical director. Liv is a member of Prince’s iconic band, New Power Generation and Ryan began performing with Liv and other NPG members during their downtime. In August of 2013, the band had a week-long residency in New York City at City Winery. The shows featured sets of original music from Liv and fellow NPG member, Shelby J along with extensive sets of Prince material. Prince himself performed on two nights, the last of which quickly became the stuff of legend after the show lasted past 6am.
In October of that year, Ryan joined Liv in the studio to start work on her album entitled, The Unexpected. Ryan co-produced and played guitar on the entire album which is executive produced by, Prince. He also wrote all lyrics and music for a song entitled, Black Bird. The album was released in March of 2014 to overwhelming critical acclaim and the band recently performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Arsenio Hall Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote the release.
In October of 2016, Liv and Ryan joined forces with Nancy Wilson of Heart to form a new project called, Roadcase Royale. The band is rounded out with Heart veterans Dan Rothchild (bass), Ben Smith (Drums) and Chris Joyner (Keys).