Artist Interview Featuring John Proulx
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08/17/2021 10:00 am (PST)
In this interview, Yannick interviews singer, pianist, composer, and educator John Proulx.
John shares a beautiful performance of “Autumn Leaves” and demonstrates how to even beginner students can get started with accompanying themselves on piano. He takes us behind the curtain on some of his colorful harmonic choices, explains the differences between comping for solo piano versus in a band setting, and shares reflections on his own learning journey.
In the next part of the interview, we delve into John’s work as a composer/ arranger, and learn the stories behind several original melodies that he’s written. From the finding the perfect marriage of melody and lyric in “Stuck in a Dream,” to writing the grammy-winning song “These Golden Years” for Nancy Wilson, we get a unique window into what it’s like to collaborate with different artists.
In the end, John reminds us of the importance of being true to ourselves, and that we all have a voice in the “democracy of music” which we call jazz.
In addition to touring with his own trio, John has performed with the likes of Anita O’Day, Natalie Cole, and Melissa Manchester. His four albums have garnered national and international acclaim.
John began his formal musical education at the age of three in Grand Rapids, MI on Suzuki violin, but quickly switched to classical piano lessons. His late grandfather, Clyde Proulx, was a jazz guitarist who introduced him to the world of jazz. Hooked on the freedom of improvisation, his education took him to Chicago to study at Roosevelt University’s Chicago School of Performing Arts where he received his Bachelors of Music in 1999. In 2001, John moved to Los Angeles to further his musical pursuits. He emerged as a young talent on the Los Angeles jazz scene and loved the wide-range of opportunities the city had to offer. John also spent four months in 2009 at the prestigious Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency hotel in New York City playing a nightly solo piano/vocal engagement. Since then, John has appeared on Michael Feinstein’s radio show on NPR, “Song Travels” as well as on Marian McPartland’s radio show, “Piano Jazz”.
As a composer. John has written songs for many notable vocalists. Jazz legend, Nancy Wilson, recorded “These Golden Years”, a song that John co-wrote with lyricist D. Channsin Berry, for her Grammy-winning CD, “Turned to Blue”. Most recently, John co-wrote a song called “Stained Glass” with Melissa Manchester for his new album, “Say It”. John and Melissa also co-wrote a song called “Big Light” for her 20th studio album, “You Gotta Love The Life”, featuring a duet with Melissa and Al Jarreau.
John recently received his Master’s degree in jazz vocal performance from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and now serves as adjunct faculty at Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State Long Beach. He is also gives online jazz voice and piano lessons at jazzvoice.com.
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