Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Brother...and A Piano

I've been playing piano since I was 3 years old, and my parents enrolled me in lessons. I didn't know better...I practiced, I played, and I fell in love with the instrument. It is what I know, and what I like...from before I even knew what I knew and liked!

I have been teaching piano for over 15 years, and I have an innate passion for the instrument. I think it's beautiful. It sounds beautiful, it looks beautiful, and there is no instrument in the world that can move me like the piano can.

And the only thing I love more than playing the piano hearing someone else play! The rare occasion when I can catch a live pianist, I'm in paradise. I pay big bucks to hear the likes of a pianist on a grand stage with fabulous acoutics and a fancy brand of piano.

As much as I enjoy classical music and what it represents in the world of piano playing...I ADORE R&B and pop music on a piano. Combined with a strong voice, fabulous lyrics, and lots of heart...there is nothing else I'd rather hear. Absolutely nothing.

In particular, nothing gets me like a brother and a piano. A man behind a keyboard is 100% wonderfulness, as far as I'm concerned. And while Alicia Keys and countless other women can rock the ivories just as well as their male counterparts, it is still a great joy for me to see a man maneuver the 88's with precision.

I'd say John Legend has most recently featured the "brother and the piano" element to R&B, with numerous hits, constant tours, and an impeccable talent. One of my all-time favourites is "Ordinary People" that was like a breath of fresh air to me. Just a man and his instrument. No distractions, no fine-tuning or studio tricks, just natural talent.

One of the most powerful performances I've ever heard was during the memorial service for Michael Jackson, when Stevie Wonder performed a medley of his songs in Michael's honour. To this day, it still takes my breath away.

Another one of the greatest brothers on a piano is undoubtedly Lionel Richie. I love me some Lionel Ritchie! Not only was he a beautiful song writer, but he maintained an element of the instrument in his music at all times. Here's a back-in-the-day clip of him working his magic. Silver glitter jumpsuit, and all!

Another legend...Bruce Hornsby, who to this day can't be contended with some of his classic piano compositions. This is him, this year, performing "The Way It Is."

And how about that David Foster? Responsible for composing some of the greatest love songs of all times, and the most unforgettable piano. For example, the "Love Theme From St. Elmo's Fire."

Here's one I've recently discovered, and an artist I am now gaining growing appreciation for. It's Tank performing "Next Breath"...

Let's not forget everyone's favourite old school pianist, D'Angelo, who apparently "still got it" seen in footage from earlier this year, in Europe:

Jamie Foxx is fabulous as well. I caught him live back in 2008 I believe it was, in a comedy/musical performance that had me laughing...and weak in the knees. Talented brother, across the board! Here's a sample of his abilities:

There are so many others, from Elton John to Justin Timberlake. And many pianists behind-the-scenes who can play the instrument, although may not display it as often as they should. Any producer worth his tracks can manipulate a keyboard...and there as so many name-less pianists that stand behind some of our favourite artists for years, who have the same talents...if not greater talents.

There's not much I can say about them...I'd much rather listen. Indefinitely. There is no greater sound, as far as I'm concerned.

In the words of Billy Joel:

Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us all feelin' all right!

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

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