William Ackerman

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William Ackerman (born November 16, 1949) is an American guitarist and record producer who founded Windham Hill Records.[1]

William Ackerman
Also known asWill Ackerman
Born (1949-11-16) November 16, 1949 (age 73)
Palo Alto, California
GenresNew-age, jazz, pop[1]
Occupation(s)Musician, record producer
Years active1976–present
LabelsWindham Hill, Imaginary Road, Lifescapes


Early yearsEdit

Ackerman was born in Palo Alto, California. His adoptive father was a professor of English at Stanford University.[2] He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Northfield Mount Hermon School in western Massachusetts. He returned to Palo Alto to study English and History at Stanford University.

His life took a turn when he discovered he had a fondness for carpentry. He was five credits short of graduating when he left Stanford to work as an apprentice to a Norwegian boat builder. In 1972, he founded Windham Hill Builders in Palo Alto while playing music for Stanford theater productions and performing impromptu concerts in town.[3]

Windham Hill RecordsEdit

With money borrowed from friends, he recorded his first album, The Search of Turtle's Navel, later changed to In Search of the Turtle's Navel, on his own label, Windham Hill Records in 1976. His second album, It Takes a Year, he released in 1977. Shortly thereafter, Will recorded and produced an album entitled Turning:Turning Back by his cousin, guitarist Alex De Grassi. This was followed by Robbie Basho whose music had inspired Ackerman for years. He left carpentry to pursue music full time in 1980. During that year, the label received national attention via the success of a piano album by George Winston entitled Autumn. He then discovered guitarist Michael Hedges at a concert in Palo Alto and immediately signed him to the label. Other musicians in the catalog were Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Liz Story, and the band Shadowfax. In time the genre associated with Windham Hill was called New-age music.[4]

In 1982, A&M Records became Windham Hill's distributor. The label was selling millions of albums, and Ackerman became a wealthy man. Despite outward signs of success, he was diagnosed with depression. By 1984, Ackerman no longer wanted to run a large corporation. He left California for Vermont. He built Imaginary Road Studios in Dummerston, Vermont and has continued to work as a producer.[4][5] The walls of his studio are covered in more than 20 Gold and Platinum records from US and overseas sales.

Awards and honorsEdit

Grammy Awards

    • Best New Age Album, Returning, 2004[6]
    • Nominated, Best New Age Album, Brothers, 2021[7]

Zone Music Reporter Awards

    • Album of the Year, The Gathering, 2012
    • Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, The Gathering, 2012
    • Lifetime Achievement Award, 2013
    • Album of the Year, Flow by Flow with Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, and Jeff Oster, 2017
    • Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, Flow by Flow with Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, and Jeff Oster, 2017[8]


  • 1976: In Search of the Turtle's Navel (Windham Hill)
  • 1977: It Takes a Year (Windham Hill)
  • 1979: Childhood and Memory (Windham Hill)
  • 1981: Passage (Windham Hill)
  • 1983: Past Light (Windham Hill)
  • 1986: Conferring with the Moon (Windham Hill)
  • 1988: Imaginary Roads (Windham Hill)
  • 1992: The Opening of Doors (Windham Hill)
  • 1998: Sound of Wind Driven Rain (Windham Hill)
  • 2001: Hearing Voices (Windham Hill)
  • 2004: Returning (Decca)
  • 2008: Meditations (Lifescapes)
  • 2010: New England Roads[9]
  • 2017: Flow [10]
  • 2019 Flow Promise (LMB Music)[11]
  • 2019 Four Guitars https://www.fourguitars.com/
  • 2021 Brothers (Retso Records)
  • 2022 Positano Songs (West River Records)


  • 1993: A Windham Hill Retrospective (Windham Hill)
  • 2006: Pure Will Ackerman (Windham Hill)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Will Ackerman". AllMusic. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  2. ^ Tom Casciato. "Stanford Carpenter Runs Record Label."The Stanford (CA) Daily, November 15, 1977, p. 4.
  3. ^ "Producing Music for the Heart". Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate. May 2, 1984. p. 8B.
  4. ^ a b Berkowitz, Kenny (October 11, 2016). "In the Age of Disco, Windham Hill Founder Will Ackerman Helped Solo-Acoustic Guitar Thrive". Acoustic Guitar. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  5. ^ Bolles, Dan. "In the Studio With Windham Hill Founder Will Ackerman". Seven Days. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  6. ^ "Will Ackerman". GRAMMY.com. May 22, 2018. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  7. ^ "2022 GRAMMYs Awards: Complete Nominations List". GRAMMY.com. November 23, 2021. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  8. ^ "2017 ZMR Music Award Winners". www.zonemusicreporter.com. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  9. ^ "Will Ackerman". AllMusic. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  10. ^ "FLOW". AllMusic. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  11. ^ "FLOW The Group". FLOW. Retrieved February 10, 2022.

External linksEdit