Although she might be new to you, the 24-year-old Australian guitar goddess isn't unknown. How do we know this? Leave it to some trusty Internet research. First, we searched "Carrie Underwood guitarist" and were kind of shocked and dismayed to come up with a mere 189 results, but those results did include Entertainment Weekly, Yahoo! Answers, and The Phoenix. Disappointed but not beaten, we decided to give it another whirl. This time we simply searched Orianthi and what do you know? Jackpot, 106,000 results.
Clicking through those pages so you don't have to, we discovered that Orianthi and guitar legend Carlos Santana have a mutual admiration society. In fact, Orianthi's MySpace page includes the following quote from Santana: "If I was going to pass the baton to somebody, she would be my first choice." We found this quote amusing on two counts. First, we were wondering if "pass the baton" was some sort of a euphemism, but perhaps we were just--to paraphrase the title of one of Orianthi's songs--thinking like a man. Secondly, we once interviewed Santana about playing the legendary Woodstock Festival and asked him if he sensed any competition between acts. "It wasn't like the NFL," he said. "Woodstock was basically peace, love, and music." That was a fine answer, but it puzzles us that it's OK for Carlos to get all track-and-field like over Orianthi, although he dismissed our notion of Woodstock competition with an NFL analogy. But whatever, Carlos, we still love you, and this really isn't about you, although you're apparently pretty close to Orianthi.
Check out this video montage with Santana uttering the immortal passing the baton line, plus footage of Orianthi performing live on stage.
Her connection with Santana led to an invitation to play the NAMM convention in Anaheim, California, which subsequently led to her signing to Geffen Records by Ron Fair, the label president/producer whose credits include work with Christina Aguilera, Black Eyed Peas and the Pussycat Dolls. Check out Orianthi performing at NAMM in the clip below.
Now she is reportedly at work on her debut album for Geffen Records with producer Howard Benson, whose credits include Hoobastank, P.O.D., and-- wouldn't you know it--Santana. It appears that Orianthi is set to be this generation's new guitar goddess. After watching her perform on the Grammys and in the clips above, what do you think? Is she worthy of Santana's baton?