There are a great many composers and musicians in the world. And there are a great many comedians in the world. But the number of musical composer/comedians whom Ellen DeGeneres herself has called “unbelievable” is few and far between: namely, Jason Lyle Black, the “Backwards Piano Man.”
The California native began playing piano at the age of eight, and by fourteen, he was tickling the keys backwards.
“I’d say the upside down is more about the entertainment side than the artistic side, but it just shows how simple, fun things can really put a smile on people’s faces. [It’s] a very small part of what I do onstage,” Black says, “but it is something people always enjoy.”
The self-taught composer took to improvisation and original composition in his early teens, and by 2004, sixteen-year-old Black released his first album, Flood of Keys, an independent record that he recalls selling to friends at his high school.
At Brigham Young University, Black studied accounting, but after becoming a certified public accountant in 2012, realized that his music was leading him in another direction.
Of that process, Black says, “More than anything, it was about recognizing my vision for my life and finally giving myself ‘permission’ to pursue that vision.”
After a few years as a YouTube performer, Black’s musical take on Disney’s Frozen went viral in 2015, receiving airplay on the national news outlets like Good Morning America and The Huffington Post. Another tribute, this time to the Pixar hit Up, followed.
“That definitely helped open doors by building credibility for my music,” Black says. “Of course, there are various ways one can get credibility in the music industry—but that helped open doors for bookings across the country and for collaboration opportunities in the industry generally.”
As his credibility in the music world expanded, Black could be seen finally not as just a composer, or a musician, but a true performer.
It’s no doubt he counts superstar artists like Michael Jackson among his favorites.
“Michael Jackson just puts a smile on my face,” he says. “I guess I have a very soft spot for disco, to be honest. I also love the Bee Gees. ‘Stayin’ Alive’ just gets me going. And I love ABBA,” he adds.
Black’s influences aren’t limited to the past, either: “Of living performers and artists, among my favorites are probably John Williams (film composer), Coldplay, and Ben Folds.”
Two years ago, Black released Piano Preludes, a solo album of original music, on Stone Angel Music. The reviews were favorable, painting Black as “unpretentious,” “soulful” and “poignant.”
When the album debuted at #1 on iTunes, Black was thrilled.
“I’d put out my first full-length album back in 2004—of original piano music—so when Piano Preludes debuted #1 in 2016, [I felt] like I finally had the chance to share my music globally and pursue my career vision,” he recalls.
To check out Jason Lyle Black’s unique sound and upcoming projects, find him on www.jasonlyleblack.com/ and social media.
See Jason in Gilbert on December 20th.