Today we’d like to introduce you to John Burke.
John is a Grammy-nominated, charismatic pianist with a prolific musical career. Inspired by pianist George Winston and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, John has created a rich, voluminous sound that challenges common preconceptions of piano music.
A native of Atlanta, GA, John began studying piano in high school after being inspired by his musical father. John played sporadically for a few years, but once he enrolled at Oglethorpe University, John’s musical life flourished as he joined a southern rock band, studied with remarkable artists, and started composing.
Since 2011, John has composed multiple acclaimed albums. John’s solo piano album, Orogen, was nominated for Best New Age Album for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. John has also composed scores for film and stage, directed musical theatre, and collaborated with incredible instrumentalists, singers, and writers.
John’s latest projects include a chamber ensemble album, Superstratum, and his very own musical, Red: A Crayon’s Story. Beyond his compositions, John plays gigs all over town. He accompanies choirs, plays jazz, and performs at countless events and weddings. At home, he lives happily with his fiancée and two cats.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were plenty of struggles along the way — the biggest was society’s view of “full-time” musicians. Everyone assumes you’re starving, picking up lots of gigs for free, and waiting tables to make ends meet.
I’ve been full-time for over five years now, and although I have much more experience to gain, I know that musicians are some of the hardest working people in the world. We’re always creating our next big thing, collaborating with fellow musicians, and working insane schedules. I used to work an 8-5 office job, but I hated it so much and left to become a musician. I’ve never looked back.
Another struggle was something that all entrepreneurs go through: how do you market yourself? There are hundreds of thousands of artists in Atlanta, so I needed to find what made me different. Was it my style? My melodies? My album names? Just like running a business, you’ve got to find your individuality, broadcast it, and prove its worth. Once you find your niche, you’re golden.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I’m a pianist and composer. I spend most of my days rehearsing and performing with various choirs and ensembles. I play gigs all around town (weddings, cocktail hours, private parties) and compose original music.
Since 2011, I’ve self-released seven instrumental albums, one of which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album in 2016. I’ve also written music for theatre and film, and my latest project was writing music and lyrics for a musical: Red, a Crayon’s Story.
What sets me apart is my wide array of musical influences. Over my career as a musician, I’ve performed traditional church music, Jewish music, musical theatre, jazz, and contemporary compositions. I feel the breadth of my performing experience makes me a better composer.
Each genre of music gives us something beautiful and unique, so when we utilize the best elements from each genre, we create a completely new sound.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
In 2016, my self-released piano album, Orogen, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album. I was nominated alongside Enya and Vangelis, and I walked the red carpet in Los Angeles. It was surreal.
- Website: www.johnburkemusic.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/johnburkemusic
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/johnburkemusic
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/johnburkemusic
- Other: www.youtube.com/johnburkemusic
River West Photography – http://www.riverwest.co/