Described by many of his peers as a “musical genius”, Dustin Ransom is an artist’s artist and a musician’s musician. Combining elements of classic r&b and funk, haunting atmospherics, timeless pop, rock, and folk sensibilities, a studied background in jazz & classical music, and a richly dynamic and soulful voice, Ransom creates music that is uniquely sophisticated yet highly accessible. Blurring personal experiences of love, loss, fear, and hope with political and social commentary, Ransom’s songs often reveal their depth slowly yet powerfully with each repeated listen.
Born and raised in southwestern Indiana, Ransom was an outlier in his community from a young age, a musical whiz kid situated in a predominantly rural, agricultural, small-town environment. Classically trained on piano from at age three to age eighteen by classical pianist and music educator Teresa Raymond, and trained on drums and mallet percussion for many years with Berklee alumnus Gregg Martin, Ransom immersed himself in every genre of music possible, relentlessly picking out every single part of a song he wanted to learn, transcribing it in musical notation, and learning how to play it on the instrument he happened to have in front of him, be it piano, drums, guitar, or bass (the latter two instruments he taught himself to play).
In 2005, Ransom moved from Indiana to Nashville, Tennessee, attending Belmont University as a music major, studying drums and percussion with legendary drummers Chester Thompson (Phil Collins, Genesis, Frank Zappa) & Zoro (Lenny Kravitz, New Edition, Frankie Valli), as well as esteemed Belmont percussion faculty Todd London and Dr. Chris Norton. Ransom also furthered his piano training at Belmont with virtuoso jazz pianists Bruce Dudley and Steve Willets.
Upon his graduation from the Belmont program, Ransom soon became a first-call multi-instrumentalist musician both in the studio and on the road, as well as a first-call producer, engineer, mixer, songwriter, and arranger for artists including Oscar-winning, Grammy-winning, and Golden Globe-winning singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, Ben Rector, Jon McLaughlin, Emily West, K.S. Rhoads, Shelly Fairchild, Erin McCarley, Butterfly Boucher, Andrew Belle, Andy Davis, Steve Moakler, and many more.
Ransom continued to only become more formidable - now as an artist - with his debut EP Thread On Fire, released in the fall of 2015, which included the single “Dig”. Produced & engineered by Ransom along with producer-engineer Adam Bokesch, Ransom wrote all five songs, played all instrumentation (minus horns on one song, for which he composed the arrangements), sang every vocal, and mixed every track on the EP himself. Favoring talent over technology, Ransom used no vocal correction software on any of the songs found on Thread On Fire, a practice he still carries over into his latest recordings.
Thread On Fire received glowing reviews from numerous music journalists and critics. “With a virtuosic ability that is comfortable in many different shoes, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Dustin Ransom has laid down his own voice on Thread on Fire, a brand-new solo album,” wrote Jon Karr of New York Minute Magazine. “Unlike most debut efforts, Ransom’s project emerges with the unique perspective of a veteran. It comes from years of producing and performing with other artists, and combines those experiences into a work that is already planted on solid footing. Thread on Fire is song-driven. From the gorgeously orchestrated “The Way We Say Goodbye”, to the funk-infused “Our American Way”, it demonstrates Ransom’s versatility and agility. Although the songs may differ in tone and style, they are unmistakably tied together by Ransom’s voice and soul. Thread on Fire celebrates the idea of good music beyond the constraints of a particular genre.”
Jen Starsinic of No Country For New Nashville wrote that “Ransom has made his name thus far as a session and touring multi-instrumentalist for artists such as Ben Rector, Jon McLaughlin and Andrew Belle. Now he’s standing on his own two feet and has released a debut EP, Thread On Fire... In typical crazy-talented-studio-musician fashion, Ransom played almost every part on the album in addition to taking on all of the mixing duties. The music is an impressive combination of funk grooves, pop sensibilities and Ransom’s soulful and skillful voice.”
Matt Connor of Stereo Subversion was succinct in his praise of Thread On Fire by stating that “Ransom’s debut shows that he can go in just about any direction and succeed, armed with a greater repertoire than most artists he’s helped along the way.”
In early 2016, Ransom created the ambitious JIGSAW project, an interactive musical experience where fans could submit certain musical parameters (time signature, key signature, tempo, and instrumentation) directly to Ransom in the form of “Jigsaws”. Ransom would then choose one of these submissions at random and write a song based around the parameters chosen, “piecing together” the elements. This resulted in some of Ransom’s most musically and lyrically challenging music yet, including the funk workout “Talk About You”, the autumnal and heartbreakingly beautiful “Black Letters (What You’ll Find)” and the completely improvised jazz-influenced psychedelia of “Liberation”.
In late 2016, Ransom was handpicked by both Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Dave Barnes and Nashville soul staple and touring member of the Zac Brown Band, Jason Eskridge, to perform as opening act for each artist’s respective performances in Chicago and Nashville. Meanwhile, Ransom was hard at work in the studio, writing, composing, recording, producing, engineering, and mixing for Nashville indie-pop darlings Lister Brothers and soul-country powerhouse Shelly Fairchild, as well as recording multiple projects with mentor and Grammy-winning producer Mitch Dane (Jars Of Clay, Bebo Norman), whom Ransom has worked with closely since 2012 as a session musician.
2016 also saw Ransom heavily involved in the creation of a custom library of cinematic instrumental music with his side project, Triads, a collaborative venture with other producer-musicians started in 2009 specializing in music for visual media. Ransom’s work under the Triads umbrella, as well as music under his own name, has landed him national and international television placements including licenses for A&E, Tempur-Pedic, SXSW, UCLA, Michelin, SunGard, Cobb Travel & Tourism, and many more.
Dustin’s first official release of 2017, “Home To You”, is a piano-driven showcase of everything that constitutes Ransom’s musical DNA – a foundation of deep groove, impeccable musicianship (as per usual, Ransom played all instrumentation on the song), a seamless blending of multiple genres; soulful, soaring vocals; and honest, thought-provoking lyrics. It is also the first taste of his upcoming new album, currently being written and recorded.
Dustin Ransom has proven himself time and time again to be a musical force to be reckoned. His passion for connection, excellence, truth, beauty, kindness, and above all, love, is the driving force behind all of his musical endeavors, and then some.