The greatest music comes from within.
In the case of the extraordinary young piano virtuoso William Joseph, that statement applies both literally and figuratively.
This twenty-five year old Phoenix, Arizona native has displayed an innate affinity and enduring love for his instrument virtually from the cradle. Matched with a dedication and discipline that has given polish and precision to his passion, William Joseph has indeed reached deep inside to discover and nurture his spectacular gift.
It's a gift gloriously displayed on Within, William Joseph's dazzling debut album on 143/Reprise Records. Highlighting eleven tracks that deftly demonstrate his exceptional range and versatility, Within was produced by the legendary artist, songwriter, producer and talent scout David Foster. If Foster's track record with the likes of Josh Groban, Michel Bublé and Renee Olstead are any indication, William Joseph is indeed poised for worldwide acclaim with the release of Within.
It's a promise evident early in the life of William Joseph. At age eight, the young prodigy had already garnered a full music scholarship that would allow him to study classical piano with the likes of the acclaimed Russian instructor Stella Saperstein. For several years, the scholarship was sponsored by the Boys Club of America.
Yet even while immersed in such rarified realms, Joseph's eclectic musical tastes prompted him to sample a wide array of styles and sensibilities. A natural born performer, he had songwriting ambitions and a love for cinematic scoring that could give full range to his richly textured and subtly nuanced skills. At seventeen, he penned the theme song for the hometown hockey team, The Phoenix Coyotes, and subsequently the moving anthem "Seeds Of Hope," which helped to draw international attention to the Kosovo refugee crisis.
After taking a break from music in his late teens, Joseph returned to active performing and within a few years had garnered a loyal local following thanks to the release of two independent albums and an extensive concert itinerary.
It was in 2003 that the young artist's unique musical ability came to the attention of David Foster, in Phoenix for a charity event honoring Muhammad Ali. "My former manager introduced me to Foster," recounts Joseph, "It was in the middle of a rehearsal, with all the musicians on stage and something prompted me to ask him if I could sit down at his piano and play a song."
The original composition, which would later appear as the title track to his major label debut, stopped Foster in his tracks. "He sat down and played this beautiful piece magnificently and to perfection," he remembers. "I was so impressed I asked him if he would perform that evening. A standing ovation later and I knew I had to work with him."
That work got underway almost immediately with Foster, co-producers Chris Boardman and Jochem van der Saag, and Joseph working closely together to select a repertoire that would truly represent the range and dynamism of the young pianist. "Some of the material, like 'Ave Maria' I'd been playing since I was a kid," Joseph explains. "Others like 'Stella's Theme' and 'Grace' I co-wrote with David. It was a great honor for me, having grown up loving his music, but what I appreciated most was his willingness to try new things."
Included in that later category are distinctive renditions of such varied material as Kansas' "Dust In The Wind," Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," and "Butterflies And Hurricanes" by UK rock innovators Muse. Josh Groban's concertmaster, Lucia Micarelli, appears on both "Ave Maria" and "Kashmir," while singer Garou makes a special appearance on "Dust in the Wind."
"I had huge expectations going into the studio," enthuses Joseph, "and they were hugely exceeded. I really feel as if the sessions got to the heart of my music; how different styles can be brought together to create something greater than the sum of its parts."
All of which goes to prove that what's within a true artist will always find a way to express itself, literally and figuratively.
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