BiographyIf you have ever played the world renowned video game series, HALO, you've heard Harry Hmura's guitar. He initially played on the first game HALO, "Rock Anthem To Save The World." The incredible Steve Vai played on HALO 2. Harry then performed on 3ODST and REACH, becoming a part of the games popularity world wide and its musical iconic reputation.
Harry began playing the guitar at the age of seven. It was his sister initially taking guitar lessons that had drawn him into the instrument. He met B.B. King at thirteen years old at a dinner/show venue called the London House in Chicago. After his performance, B. B. genuinely extended himself, greeting and signing autographs for the audience. With his mother’s encouragement, Harry walked up to and met B. B., getting his autograph and personal message he wrote to him which he still has in his possession. It was after that evening Harry knew his destiny.
While still a teenager, Harry started teaching guitar, even before he could drive himself to the music store. Taking what he had learned from his previous teachers, he began to grow, listen and learn from the different bands, styles and guitarists that interested him, then passing it on to his students. With his dedication and passion for his guitar, it was merely the beginning of things to come.
He started out touring the U. S. and Canada with Grammy Award Winning blues artist, James Cotton (formerly Muddy Waters harmonica player) turning 21. An experience like no other, Harry learned quickly about life on the road and its expectations. The band traveled 40-44 weeks out of the year, leaving not much down time. There were intense bright spots playing alongside blues and rock legends, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Dickey Betts, Elvin Bishop, Jeff Healey among others. Harry was playing with the best and learning from the best.
Harry was then asked to join and tour Europe exclusively with Grammy Award Winning blues artist, Sugar Blue, another blues harmonica player who had recorded and toured with the Rolling Stones. The extensive traveling and gigging throughout France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland offered new and exciting experiences, giving way to large venues and jazz festivals, Montreux, North Sea-Hague, Madrid, Paris, Middlehiem, Switz.., again bringing incredible bright spots performing on festivals with jazz legends, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Lionel Hampton, Toots Thielemans and Mickey baker.
As a live performer, Harry toured much of the world, absorbing experiences and inspiration that was all around him. Harry developed his own band, Countdown in his hometown, Chicago. It was original music, a fusion of blues, progressive rock and improvisatory freeness of jazz. This was the beginning of a new era for Harry. He was writing original compositions, and creating his own style. Along with band performances and teaching again, Harry began doing studio sessions recording for local and national radio and TV commercials. He has recorded for a wide range of television shows on network TV on NBC, CBS, WGN, and cable stations A&E, Discovery, Biography, History, ESPN, VH-1, Weather and performed the National Anthem for the Chicago White Sox baseball team. His band Countdown, studio sessions and teaching were keeping things on the go, Harry yet joined up with smooth jazz artist Brian Culbertson to record on his debut album, Long Night Out. Tours followed as did their collaboration co-writing and producing songs for the next two albums.
Call it what you want.., it was fate for Harry becoming involved with great ape sanctuaries and the apes themselves opening a new chapter in his life and forever changing it. Inspired by the amazing, Dr. Jane Goodall and all the great apes he's met and played his guitar for, he composed and produced his latest album, I AM, I AM. The title itself conveys a strong message, strong and majestic like the great apes themselves. This latest release features actual vocalizations and sounds of great apes in which he and colleagues have recorded either living in sanctuary or in their wild habitats. Writing original compositions and integrating the apes into the music, he created a story based on true facts motivated by the past and current lives of great apes, their untold experiences living in mankind's world. He used their voices and sounds for listeners to feel what they feel and felt. There's beauty, happiness, tenderness, sorrow and horror. Harry approached and produced the album with honesty and sincerity based on the great apes lives.
With Buddy Guy - 3/3/18
New video release from Harry for his guitar work on the Halo Reach soundtrack with the record “We Remember” along with his own original song Flying. Video shot by Obscure Diamond.
HALO & FLYING VIDEO
Re-recording the song “We Remember” from the HALO game REACH in the studio was a bit of a dream I had for years. When I had originally played on the cut in the studio with Michael Salvatori (composer/producer) engineering the session, I remember my soul being moved like never before. It was an unusual yet incredible experience, a calmness looming over me during the recording as if I knew the song from a past time. I threw out a few ideas to Mike saying what about this.., I’ve got an idea to double the bass part using an octave pedal and tuning my low E string to a wobbly Bb to thicken the bottom crazy ass like. Holy crap, it was awesome. Mike loved it. I recall driving to the studio that day and calling Marty O’Donnel asking him, is there any particular thing you’re looking for me to do on the song..? His words.., just go for it. It’s a free feeling sort of thing. My gut feeling I knew it was, though I needed his concrete answer to follow my instincts. Back to re-recording the song, it was again another calming experience with the great musicians in the studio with me, my band. They too brought their natural talent and instincts along adding nuances that was not in the original recording. Also the ending I created for the session again a bit different from the original. We did a few takes and moved on to my original song Flying. This song we’ve played a bit in the past at live performances. We knew the song, just had to bring to the studio and let it FLY..! Thanks to the great talents, Brian Quinn, Damiano Della Torre and Kevin Jones and video by Obscure Diamond.
HARRY’S CD AND PROJECT FOR GREAT APES
Over 15 years ago, my life unexpectedly changed. Having love, respect and regard for all life, I learned of the subjection great apes (chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas and gibbons) were enduring in bio-medical research laboratories, the entertainment and pet industry. Music, performing, recording, touring, teaching had new meaning to all I have been doing. My world turned upside down. I became friends with great ape sanctuary leaders. I was sickened at what I learned and saw…, chimpanzees, filled with life and deserved freedom like you and I, taken away. Destroyed mentally and physically locked into bio-medical research laboratories, bred their as well to then live isolated in cages 5x5x7, or concrete cells, researched on against their will and to live for decades, sometimes 30+ years even for some, their entire life under lock and key. I wanted to do something about it, help bring awareness to the public, assist great apes and the sanctuaries that care for them. The only way I knew how was to do what I know best.., tell the truth through music. The album I AM, I AM is just that. You’ll hear great apes singing, laughing, babies crying, clapping, shouting, outbursts, caging banging, even playing tambourine, and talking to us in their language. I tell it like it is in the songs.., the apes do too! They've taught me so much about themselves and so much about myself. It's truly an honor to know so many of these incredible souls and have them as friends.
Harry would like to tour the world performing I AM, I AM. With hopes in getting the funds, one day he will. 100% of the funds he raises from the album is shared with great ape sanctuaries around the world. www.iam-iamproject.com
HARRY’S SPECIAL EDITION GUITARS
Harry is going to be auctioning off all 3 guitars in his continuing effort assisting great ape sanctuaries. He'll be posting the auction site (TBD) here and all social media!
A very special guitar of Harry's, his Epiphone/Les Paul was used on the last song he played on "We Remember" for the HALO series REACH and introduced it into the video for fans to see.
The next two guitars are just as special and obviously difficult for him to let go. Reason..? The bodies of the guitars he brought to a great ape sanctuary in Florida, Center for Great Apes, where chimpanzees and orangutans skillfully used their own paint brush and color in creating original art work on the face of the guitar.., and even a lil on them too..! They are one of a kind in the world. These two guitars are assembled and clear coated over the art by Harry's custom guitar maker.
The "Orangu-caster" I planned by purchasing the Tele style body already painted orange-ish (a little like an orangutans color) knowing I was going to ask and have them paint on it. Three beautiful and amazing orangutans that I have known and are friends with, and have played my guitar for named Popy, Geri and Louie did the honors in creating a one of a kind "ape art" guitar.
The "Chimp-caster" a creme color Strat style body I purchased, though not sure what I was going to do with it. Since the Orangu-caster was done by Orangutans, the staff at the sanctuary suggested we take it to a chimpanzee that likes to paint a lot. Fate had it, the chimpanzee I knew very well and have been friends with for years is named Toddy. She painted the guitar with her new friend Clyde at the time. He and Toddy were elderly souls, great companions, and created beautiful swirls of blue and red as if they were intertwining their friendship through paint and art. He did have four wonderful years of sanctuary, freedom, and a sweet girlfriend Toddy. Clyde passed away.., he will be remembered. Great apes living in sanctuary have experienced major trauma in their past lives mentally and physically. Like us they need companionship and family bonds. The sanctuaries are amazing places, the spirit between humans and great apes bringing new meaning and desires to life.
THE NEW STUDIO ALBUM
Harry is currently in the studio writing and recording his next album. It's all about his love for the styles of blues and fusion. It will either be separated as two EP’s, one on the blues-ish side and the other fusion, or one album. Stay tuned...