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- MuzicNotez Crew: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you Walter, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
- Walter Billingsley: To the MuzicNotez Crew, the honor is mine, gentlemen. I am excited about the promotion/exposure opportunities I am receiving from your on-line music magazine. I thank Nick Galien, your representative who has been guiding me thru my options. I am honored to be interviewed by him.
- MuzicNotez Crew: What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?
- Walter: What motivated me was my fascination with the piano since I could reach the keys. I could reach up, press a key and get a sound.-.move down and get a lower sound.. Wow, I was captivated! Like many others, I grew up around gospel music, observing all the different ways I would see a piano being played. There were those players with a hard touch and the ones with that soft and tender touch. That’s the time I became aware of the style I had developed from my experimentation with the 88 sounds I had to work with… creating fancy & unique riffs and runs. I was big on octaves and big chords in my arrangements; yet I would also include the soft & tender. I was motivated to create music for the purpose of performing in front of audiences.
Throughout my childhood I was anxious to reach age 15, so I could enter a Teen Talent Search open to teens age 15-18. Already seasoned at singing & playing in my late Father’s churches, I began preparing for the competitions. I was ready to let my creative juices flow and choose three hymns/sacred melodies and start working them in my head before taking them to the piano for development. I worked the 3 melodies into a full composition – a work of art, and performed some impressive hymn medleys. Two of my eligible years, I competed at the National level, in 1972 competing in both piano and vocal categories.
These were formidable years for my abilities as a performer & as an arranger of hymn medleys for my piano solo competitions. These years were the stepping stone to me wanting to create music with melodies I had written. It became a fixation. I was attuned to the musical motifs running thru my mind & couldn’t wait to get to a piano to turn them into piano solo pieces – Compositions for Piano. I wrote my first Composition for Piano at age 15 – ‘Lakefire’, which has become a signature track of my recent CD release ‘Pieces of Nature’ – Nature-Inspired Compositions for Piano. I only dreamed as a child, of someday playing for others a piece of music I had written and that’s what I’ve had the privilege of doing most of my career years as a pianist & composer.
- MuzicNotez Crew: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
- Walter: My first influence was church music, however, as I matured in years my music matured, as did my idols & influences. I was introduced to the Masters since my first piano teacher Miss. Edna Beasley and throughout my college years of study. My music today, my Compositions for Piano, is heavily influenced by many of the Master Composers of piano music, including Debussy, Satie, Saint Sean, Chopin and numerous others. However, I find it interesting how much of my style of piano is influenced by the pop song-master Sir. Elton John, whose Composition ‘Funeral for a Friend’ is one of the finest ever written and whose Piano & song juxtaposition is ingenious.
My Sister, Diane, was an idol of mine, her 2 Yr. younger Brother & only sibling. She & I would sit at the piano picking out hymn tunes and songs we had heard on the easy-listening radio stations our Mother would choose to play. I always noticed Diane’s ability to fill-in the empty spaces and making the song sound ‘fuller’. I observed and tried some of her tricks when she wasn’t around to hear my attempts.