The greatest keyboard players of the 21st century, revealed

Derek Sherinian
(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari / Getty)

We're now deep into our epic GOAT Hunt: the search to put together a fantasy band line-up made up entirely of the players who are considered the Greatest of All Time. 

Naturally, the band needs a keyboard player, and having voted for your top pre-'80s and '80s and '90s heroes, we brought things back up to date and asked you to choose your top keyboard player of the 20th century.

With the music landscape now so diverse, and genres bleeding into each other, the shortlist we drew up was the most varied yet, and you also had some of nominations of your own.

With the votes counted, we can now bring you the top 10, but that's not quite end of it, as the top five keyboard players from each era will now face-off to vie for the honour of being included in our final GOAT line-up.

For now, though, let's focus on the greatest keyboard players of the 21st century, as voted for by you.

1. Derek Sherinian

Having started his career playing keyboards for Buddy Miles and Alice Cooper, the fleet-fingered Sherinian went on to join Dream Theater in the '90s, before embarking on a solo career at the turn of the century. A true shredder, his virtuoso playing has seen him dubbed the keyboard-playing version of Eddie Van Halen.

2. Jordan Rudess

Rudess joined Dream Theater just as Derek Sherinian was leaving, and has become famed not just for his playing abilities, but also his willingness to embrace new technology. Taking influence from the prog heroes of the past, he's created a sound, style and setup that's uniquely his.

3. Jacob Collier

British wunderkind Collier has had a thoroughly modern career, going viral with his YouTube covers and then creating his acclaimed albums not in a studio, but in the back room of his house. A true multi-instrumentalist, the fact that he can count Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock as fans says it all.

4. Woody Goss

As a founding member of Vulfpeck, Goss has demonstrated a great ability to play for the band rather than himself, but the quality of his chops is beyond question. He began playing the piano at the age of seven, and is a student of jazz and funk.

5. Robert Glasper

'Jazz pianist' is just one of the many hats that Robert Glasper wears - he's also a producer, songwriter and arranger, and his music has strong elements of hip-hop and neo-soul, too. Whether performing with his trio or winning Grammys for R&B records, he looks totally at home.

6. T.Nava

A founding member of Anderson .Paak cohorts Free Nationals, keyboard player and vocalist T.nava (Ron Avant) has also toured with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Nas and Dr. Dre, and worked with Macy Gray and Jason Derulo. If you're looking for retro-flavoured 21st-century synth funk, he's your guy.

7. Cory Henry

A child Hammond organ prodigy - he played a show at the Apollo Theater when he was just six years old - Henry has hit the road with pop, rock, and gospel royalty, and is a former member of Snarky Puppy. With a strong appreciation of those who came before him and a keen eye on the future, he's a compelling keyboard presence.

8. Shaun Martin

Shaun Martin is another player who's steeped in gospel history - he began playing with Kirk Franklin when he was still in high school, and has earned Grammys with both him and Snarky Puppy, his current band. Oh, and he's worked with the likes of Erykah Badu and Chaka Khan, too.

9. Ben Folds

Folds initially poured his love of punk-rock and classic songwriting into the Ben Folds Five - a trio, obviously - with his thunderous piano playing quickly becoming a trademark. He seems to have mellowed in recent years, and has worked on a diverse range of projects, including a memoir and his Lightning Bugs podcast.

10. Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys seemed to emerge a fully-formed star, with her debut album, Songs in A Minor, shifting more than 12 millions copies and earning her five Grammy Awards. Her classical training has stood her in good musical stead, and she's even got her own signature NI piano plugin (called, inevitably, Alicia's Keys). 


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