By Valerie Chapman
Opening for Clay Aiken at the Delta Center to an audience full of screaming, crazy fans would feel out-of-place for most classical pianists, but not William Joseph.
Joseph?s repertoire extends from classical pieces such as ?Ave Maria? to rock classics like Led Zeppelin?s ?Kashmir? and Kansas? ?Dust in the Wind.? Amazon.com calls Joseph ?blessed with a forceful technique and an ear for drama that recalls [Roger] Williams in his prime, and approaches his material with a ?crowd-pleasing verve that occasionally invokes 1970s prog-rock excesses without apology.?
Joseph is a 25-year-old LDS piano virtuoso from Phoenix. He is currently on the ?Joyful Noise? tour with Clay Aiken promoting his debut album, ?Within.?
Along with Joseph?s renditions of classic rock hits, ?Within? also includes four original songs Joseph co-wrote with his producer, David Foster. Joseph said his inspiration to write is a combination of perspiration and inspiration.
?It?s God-given, but it?s still me expressing myself,? Joseph said. ?I?ve always had a passion for [song-writing].?
Joseph said he began playing piano when he was 4 years old. His parents told him he was watching the show ?Fraggle Rock? and when the theme song came on, he grabbed his toy piano and began playing the song with both hands. His parents immediately knew they needed to get him lessons.
The first person they called from the phone book happened to be a graduate from Leningrad Conservatory in Russia, one of the best music schools in the world. He studied classical piano with her for 13 years, and at age 8 received a national scholarship through the Boys and Girls Club which helped pay for all the lessons and music camps he needed to improve his skills.
When he was 18, he decided he wanted to serve a mission, despite his heavy involvement in music and his rising career.
?I knew I had to go on a mission,? Joseph said. ?Forget your music, forget your career, just do this. That was the spiritual turning point in my life.?
Joseph served in the Perth, Australia Mission where he had the opportunity to participate in and organize many musical meetings and firesides. He was even able to record ?Seeds of Hope,? a peace-anthem song raising money for the Kosovo refugees living in refugee camps in Australia.
Despite the many musical opportunities Joseph had on his mission, he said he tried to keep things in perspective.
?I always wanted to be the missionary who played the piano, instead of the pianist who played the missionary,? Joseph said. ?So I always wanted to make sure that it didn?t get out of hand.?
After his mission, Joseph picked up right where he left off. His career began to take off when he was introduced to legendary producer David Foster at a charity event in Phoenix. Foster is the producer for artists Josh Groban, Michael Buble and Renee Olstead, so when Joseph was given the chance to play a song he had written for Foster, he knew it would make or break his career.
Foster was impressed by Joseph?s talent and invited Joseph to open the charity event, which featured performances by Rod Stewart and Reba MacIntyre. Foster remains impressed with Joseph?s musical skills today.
“I love William”s musicality, his writing and the magic he weaves on the piano,? Foster said. ?He has a unique gift the whole world should hear.”
The ?Joyful Noise? tour will not extend to the whole world, but comes close. Between Nov. 3 and Dec. 30, Joseph will travel through 21 states and play 31 concerts. Joseph said he enjoys touring but admits it is hard to be away from his wife and two boys, ages 1 and 3, for such a long time.
?I try to make it as comfortable as I can for them while I?m gone,? Joseph said. ?My biggest challenge in my career will be figuring out the right balance. The Lord and my family come first.?
Though the ?Joyful Noise? tour will most likely skyrocket Joseph?s career, he said he eventually wants to settle down and perhaps go to a university to study music composition.
?I want to be in a position where I can spend as much time with my family as I can,? Joseph said. ?Ultimately, I would love to be a writer so I can stay home with my family.?