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Behind the Scenes with Music Legends and Finding the Artist Within

Never underestimate yourself if you don’t want others to do the same. Jim Wilson could have simply dismissed himself as a competent piano tuner-technician, even an exceptional one. But he was and is so much more, and it took the sudden death of a dear friend and the encouragement of a global music superstar to prove it to him.

From a broken home in Amarillo, Texas to a multi-award-winning recording artist, Jim Wilson’s journey is a captivating tale of showbiz glamor, personal tragedy, self-discovery, and dogged determination. And, as is typical of Jim Wilson, he’s turned out to be a pretty good wordsmith.

Tuned-In: Memoirs of a Piano Man is a page-turner and a life-changer. It’s a self-help book in the form of an autobiography. It is entertaining, revealing and a lesson to us all.

Jim isn’t merely the guy who gets under the hood of your Steinway and gives it a quick tune-up. He will transform a piano. Which is why he ended up jamming “Lady Madonna” with McCartney, riding the range with Carole King, and hitting the ski slopes with Dan Fogelberg.

And it was Fogelberg who coaxed Jim to face his fears and follow his dreams, rather than just refine other’s pitch. After decades of hiding behind stage fright and self-doubt, it was Fogelberg’s encouragement and the tragic death of a best friend that forced Jim to step into the limelight. “That was a life-changing event that made me realize that you never know when you’re going to be called,” says Jim. “So, you’d better be proud of what you’ve done and the legacy you’re leaving behind.”

Just one of the ten resulting piano works was 2018’s Remembrance: A Collection of Cinematic Portraits. Hailed as his career masterpiece, it topped the Amazon and iTunes charts and held the #2 position in Billboard’s instrumental chart for 2 weeks in a row.

Sometimes referred to as “melodic tone poems,” Jim Wilson’s music has been described as “a magical carpet ride of melodic beauty” by music legend Carole King and as making “a classy, artistic statement” by master tunesmith Burt Bacharach. Guest artists on Jim’s recordings have included David Sanborn, J.D. Souther, Chris Botti, Dan Fogelberg and with “Hard Times” (the Arlo Guthrie track and video Jim produced during the pandemic, which premiered on,) Andy McKee and Stanley Clarke. Jim’s had two PBS specials, including A Place in My Heart, which was filmed before a sold-out audience of 1,300 fans at the GNC Performing Arts Center in Amarillo, TX. Although the public thinks of Jim Wilson as a pianist and composer, the back story is what makes Tuned In – Memoirs of a Piano Man such a good read.

Jim grew up in Texas, beginning his love affair with music at the age of 7. He picked up a guitar at the house of a family friend who gave the instrument to Jim on a whim. “From then on I had this incredible passion for music and learning to play it. Around nine or ten I started composing songs. About that time my charismatic cousin from California came to visit. He breezed into town with his long hair, guitar, songs, and stories, and that really ignited the musical fire in my life. I couldn’t wait to be a musician. I started playing in professional bands when I was 14. I switched to playing the piano when I was 19, transferring my James Taylor guitar riffs to piano, which became a foundation of my piano style.”

Soon thereafter, Jim packed up all of his possessions in a van and headed to California to pursue his dreams of a career in the music business. “For many people California has represented the Promised Land, the Land of Dreams. I love the energy of the people and the encouragement of the arts. But his dreams of stardom were set aside for a more practical side-hustle as a piano tuner. But not just any piano tuner. Jim could make even the finest pianos sing out as never before. The word spread and the status of his clientele flourished. His own music was sidelined.

In the mid-‘80’s, Jim helped develop a revolutionary MIDI-adaptor for the acoustic piano, which for the first time allows this age-old instrument to interact with computers and synthesizers. He developed a topflight reputation, teaching uses of MIDI-piano to the upper echelon of pop musicians such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Jackson Browne, Burt Bacharach, Carole King, and many, many more. Whenever Jim played his own music for them while sitting at their pianos, they encouraged him to pursue his own musical dreams.

As a piano technician, Jim also collaborated with Spectrasonics, a leading innovator of world-class, award-winning virtual instrument software plug-ins, on the release of “Keyscape”. Keyscape is a “virtual instrument” that features the largest selection of unique, collector keyboards in the world –– including Jim’s personal, customized Yamaha C7. The library / piano is endorsed by artists including Herbie Hancock and Jacob Collier, who called it “the best piano sample.” Ten years in the making, the library was released on September 1, 2016. The piano heard on “Hard Times” is in fact the virtual instrument representation of Jim’s personal piano, as offered in Keyscape.

Early on in Jim’s recording career, Jim landed an official endorsement by Yamaha Pianos, with the company providing instruments for his performances across the country both as a solo artist and with his six-piece band. Wilson has composed music for the CBS-TV series Frank’s Place and CNN’s Showbiz Today television show devoted a segment to Jim’s music.

Four of Jim’s 10 recordings have hit the Billboard Top-20, he’s had two PBS specials, and his music has been streamed over 75 million times by fans around the globe. NARAS recently made him a “Lifetime Member” of the Recording Academy. He enjoys scuba diving, skiing, and pilot lessons.

Tuned In is Jim’s first book and, typically stubborn, he turned down a major publishing deal in favor of the creative control afforded him with a small Indy publisher. With over forty endorsements from A-list celebrities, his book isn’t short on praise. “This is a big swing for me, and I’m humbled by all the friends who’ve stepped up and offered support.” By “friends,” Wilson means mega-talents including David Foster, Barry Manilow, Diane Warren, Martin Short, Ray Romano and Ed Begley, Jr.

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Tuned In: Memoirs of a Piano Man is scheduled for release on April 2, 2024.

(Available for pre-order through all digital retailers on Jan 2,  2024.)

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