Undeniable groove on the keys. Rippin’ vocals on the mic. So much hair on the head.

Growing up, I had an excellent relationship with the piano, but a complicated relationship with piano lessons. Always loved playing. Always lived for the jam. Hated practicing very much. I grew up singing along to gospel, blues, R&B… but boy-oh-boy was that not the music I was supposed to be learning to play. I’d head down to the basement, turn on our digital keyboard*, and sing Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles under my breath.

I truly learned to rehearse only when it became necessary to survive high school and university. Being in bands, orchestras, choirs and musicals meant that I couldn’t coast by playing only my own requests. I cut me off a slice of that humble pie and studied. Learning to appreciate different styles of music changed my attitude, and learning to play from a chord chart changed everything. For me, it was the secret sauce to picking up music quickly. A middle-ground between sight-reading multiple staves at once (tedious, anxiety time) and playing by ear (amazing, the dream). Stepping into a practice room to learn tunes for shows and lessons routinely turned into messing around and writing for hours.

That sweet, sweet piano time had a hold on me, even into a professional theatre career. Sometimes I’d look into the pit orchestra during a show and wistfully wonder what it’d be like to play music full time. As that happened more frequently, odd little pieces fell into place. A rock/country band gig at an amusement park led to a pop/funk residency at a brewery. I had a musician friend swing by to play said residency, and he called to offer me that bucket-list gig in a pit orchestra. A year flew by, and suddenly I was a cruise ship musician, dueling pianos six nights a week. Now I’m in with Felix and Fingers, performing in and around the Twin Cities—the jam has never felt so right. I’m beyond grateful and so stoked to keep stomping boots, slamming keys (respectfully), and singing the greatest bangers of all time for years to come.

*Shoutout to the Yamaha DGX-500, still sitting beside me as I type this. Real ones recognize.

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