Local Piano Virtuoso Garnering Praise From Jazz Legends
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When he touches the ivories, the melodies flow through his fingers like water in a stream.
Pittsburgh’s own Brett Williams is already an accomplished piano virtuoso at 21-years-old.
“I knew from an early age that music, that”s what i want to do,” Williams said.
He started playing early on, barely out of diapers. It didn’t take long for his parents Lori and Chett Williams to realize their son has a special gift.
“He would often entertain himself with just child’s toys, but he was on beat. So, a little keyboard later he would pound things out it was like this has something,” Lori said.
“He really started on the drums first because he had this beat inside of him,” Chett said.
Young Brett found his calling on the keyboards and started taking lessons at age four. That’s also when he wrote his first song.
Mozart composed his first song at the age of five.
He has uncanny ability to pull rhythm from sounds that most people call noise.
“Just everyday things. Some stuff that people don’t pay attention to, I just I kind of gravitate toward. I hear rhythm or music inside of it,” Brett said. “For me, first it comes from here from my spirit, my heart, then to my head, then to my fingers.”
He started out playing by ear, but it didn’t take long to learn to read music and how to improvise
He developed a strong background in gospel music and became a fixture on keyboard at Covenant Church in the East Hills, where his grandfather is the pastor. At 9-years-old, he earned his first paycheck, for $150 playing at a wedding reception.
When he reached his early teens, Brett broke out on Pittsburgh’s flourishing jazz scene. catching the eyes and ears of some of the best local jazz artists.
“Mr. Roger Humphries, who is a legend. It’s great getting to play with him every Thursday,” Brett said.
His released his first CD before high school graduation. His latest offering called “Elevations,” includes all original material written and recorded with other young jazz artists.
Like many other young and upcoming musicians, he dreamed of seeking fame and fortune in New York, but jazz legend Wynton Marsalis gave him invaluable advice.
“I talked to Wynton and Wynton said stay in Pittsburgh and be the big fish in a small pond,” Brett said.
Brett took that advice to heart and enrolled at Duquesne University. He’ll graduate from the School of Music this spring on the Dean’s List.
While staying active on the local jazz scene, he was still destined for the big stage.
This past summer, Brett was given the opportunity of a lifetime. He performed before thousands in Europe as the newest member of jazz bassist Marcus Miller’s band.
Miller hired the young keyboard player strictly on word of mouth.
“He was at a juice bar in Los Angeles and some guy just said, ‘Hey man, do you know this Brett Williams cat?’ and he said, ‘Man who is this guy?’” Brett said.
After sacrificing, supporting and pushing their son to be the best he can be, his parents are extremely proud, but not surprised.
“When he’s out there, I am absolutely most amazingly proud of him because he works at what he does. His preparation has allowed this opportunity to flourish,” Lori said.
“The cool thing about Brett is that he has it all. He can play, he has character, he has integrity, he loves the Lord and he loves his family,” Chett said.
So, what’s the future hold for a young man with so much God-given talent?
“I really want to travel. I want to play. I want to perform. A goal that I’ve set for myself is to win a Grammy,” Brett said.