Solo Pianist Joseph Akins is the Featured Artist on the upcoming Audiosyncracy at Sea Cruise next June, and we couldn’t think of a better artist to get the focus for our November Artist Spotlight.
Dr. Joseph Akins is a talented solo pianist who has released seven solo albums and performed at hundreds of venues across the country, sharing the stage with David Lanz, Michele McLaughlin, Liz Story and many others. He is a professor, composer, pianist and keyboard player, and has been involved with music all his life, from playing in his family’s country band as a child, touring with rock bands after high school, and studying with great jazz educators in college. Dr. Akins has taught a variety of music classes, composed original music for multiple albums and films, and has performed in venues from small homes to the amazing Grand Ole Opry.
Today, Dr. Akins divides his time between teaching for the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University, composing and recording music, playing concerts and programming synthesizers. At MTSU, he teaches synthesis, MIDI and film scoring. As an award-winning recording artist, he promotes his self-released albums of instrumental music that feature him as a pianist, composer, and producer.
We are pleased to have many of Dr. Akins’ CD’s in our Audiosyncracy library, including his newest release, Into the Flow.
We asked Dr. Akins a few questions about his music, inspiration, and upcoming projects. Here’s what we learned:
Q Who is your favorite composer? Why?
There are so many, it is difficult for me to narrow it down, but I’ll try. While I was a youngster in college, I was influenced by many jazz composers including Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. I love their contemporary chord progressions and melodic improvisations. In the new age genre, pianist David Lanz and multi-instrumentalist David Arkenstone are my long time favorites. Their music puts me in the zone. In the past decade, I have been heavily inspired by many pianist/composers that I’ve performed with and/or met. These artists include Greg Maroney, Michael Dulin, David Nevue and many others. Each one has something different that I love. It may be their melodies, harmonies, or other musical elements that attract me.
Q What (or who) inspires you—musically or otherwise?
Various events in life inspire me to create. Sometimes it is something as simple as a movie, reading a book or a walk in nature. Other times it is a larger event such as the birth of a baby (not mine, but from friends or family) or a wedding. People and animals that I love such as my wife, our three Siamese cats are other inspiring things that come to mind. And hearing live music inspires me to be creative. It can be any kind of music. Just the energy from a concert and the experience of watching other people perform gets me motivated and inspired.
Q In addition to being a talented artist yourself, you also teach aspiring artists at MTSU. What is the most important thing that you want your students to take away from your classes?
I want them to see and believe that they can create music. Some are doing it for the first time in my class. I hope the composing bug bites them and they continue to create music after they leave my class. But if they don’t, I hope they at least takeaway a good experience they can always look back on.
Q What do you do when you aren’t writing, playing, or teaching music?
I spend a lot of time on the business side of it. Promotion and marketing, bookkeeping, and just keeping up with “what’s new” takes a lot of time. When I’m not in work mode, I spend time watching movies and just goofing off with my wife and friends. I also practice yoga, meditation and enjoy going to our community gym. I would like to have some other hobbies but between being a tenured professor and a recording artist, there isn’t much time.
Q You live, work, and teach in Nashville, the birthplace of so many great music legends. Can you tell us about any up-and-coming artists or bands that you are excited about?
I recently heard and enjoyed a recording from pianist Kelsey Lee Keogh. It will be her first album and I think it’s going to be really great! There are some other talented pianists who have released their first album this year: Rachel Lafond and Pam Asberry are upcoming artists. Regarding Nashville, it is mind blowing how much talent is in that city. I haven’t been out to hear much lately so it’s hard for me to single out anyone at the moment.
Q Tell us about your tour that you have planned for this coming spring. Where will you be playing? Will you be playing with any other artists? Do you plan to introduce any new music on the tour? How can people learn more?
I am in the progress of putting together tours in the Pacific NW, Southern California and the Southeast (Tennessee and Georgia mostly). I would like to return to Colorado and Texas soon as well. Some shows will be by myself but others will be collaborated with other artists. This is still in the works. Regarding music, I will be primarily playing from my new album, “Into the Flow”. My concert calendar can be found on my website at www.josephakins.com.
Q We are very excited to welcome you as our featured artist on the 2018 Audiosyncracy at Sea cruise. What are your expectations for the cruise?
I am expecting to have an awesome time! I think it will be an adventure of a lifetime!