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Kalamazoo's Piano Man

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Edward Callahan

Trained as a classical pianist since the age of 5, Edward Callahan was destined to become a professional musician. Being part of the inaugural class of The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise) recipients helped him achieve his dream.

While a Kalamazoo Public Schools student, Callahan performed with the school band. Upon graduating from Kalamazoo Central High School in 2006, Callahan utilized The Promise to pursue music education at Western Michigan University.

“I studied with Dr. Silvia Roederer and she really pushed me and exposed me to so much music that I never knew existed,” he shared. “I was also in the marching band, pep band, and gospel choir. I was just really involved.”

After his sophomore year, Callahan decided to move to New York City and become a professional musician. There he connected with Damien Sneed, who mentored and encouraged him to adapt to a variety of musical genres. Fast-forward to December 2019, and Callahan had used many of these lessons to create his debut album, The Minor Keys.

Featuring works by Frédéric Chopin and Franz Schubert, the album debuted at number 9 on Billboard’s top 10 traditional classical albums chart and reached number 1 on the iTunes classical chart.

“I wanted it to be a very relaxing album,” he said of the project. “Music is very healing. I just want someone to sit down and hear and see me play and be at ease.”

Although releasing an album is high on his list of accomplishments, Callahan is most proud about earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Nyack College and graduating magna cum laude.

“Going to school and getting my degree opened up networking opportunities and made navigating this whole process so much easier,” he shared.

Finishing his education also gave him the opportunity to perform at several impressive venues. In 2018, Callahan played at the Lincoln Center Theatre and toured Italy as a pianist for the Nyack College choir. Earlier this year, he fulfilled a childhood dream by performing at The Gilmore Keyboard Festival’s (The Gilmore) virtual event.

“I used to always attend The Gilmore as a kid and watch the greats play these stages, so it was always my dream to play this event,” he explained.

Making his achievements even more special was a surprise from his mother, Sonya Bernard-Hollins, who wrote a children’s book about his experiences. The book is titled “Little Eddie Goes to Carnegie Hall” and is dedicated to Callahan’s first piano teacher, Billie Netterwald.

“My mother surprised me with the book during an interview at the Kalamazoo Public Library,” he recalled. “Playing Carnegie Hall is one of my dreams, so I think she wrote that to help inspire people.”

While Callahan hopes to one day achieve this dream, he is currently honing his craft, working on his sophomore album, and encouraging aspiring musicians to be confident in their abilities.

“Continue to believe in yourself,” he asserted. “Self-progress is the best progress.”

Visit Callahan’s Facebook and Instagram pages for his latest news and achievements.

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