Todd East says Billie is not only his wife but also his best friend and absolute perfect musical partner.
NORTH MIAMI – The reason for Todd East’s confidence in his talent is obvious once you hear his music. His passionate vocals infused with perfected piano playing are pure music for the soul.
The born blind, 49-year-old, native New Yorker’s love and talent for music was evident from early on.
“I think music chose me, it was in me,” East said. “When I was six months old I started banging on pots and pans and anything I could get my hands on. My parents must have realized there was some musical talent in me and at age three they bought me my first drum kit. And later, a gal from a local church where I grew up had given us a piano, and I started plinking on that. I am more focused because of my blindness because I’m immersed in my music.”
By age 11 East was playing drums in a Country band.
“I was actually doing professional work on a limited basis at that age,” he said.
East studied Classical and Romantic music styles and took lessons in Jazz at the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He studied music theory and performance in college at Nazareth eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree there. He took a year off college, touring in clubs around the country, mostly on the east coast performing in hotels and casinos.
“That’s when I became more serious about the piano,” he said. “After college, I was working full time as a keyboardist and vocalist. I did that for years and years both with bands and as a solo artist. It took me to Europe in Germany and Switzerland and Paris. I had my own band called Todd East and Second Sight. We did the normal bar stuff, the Southern Rock and all the stuff that people expect.”
As his musical talent developed, East joined a nine-piece band, Prime Time Funk, performing Soul music.
“Between that and solo gigs and playing piano bars, that was my living for a long, long, long time. I’ve also worked as a studio musician,” he said. “I started doing the dueling piano circuit, and that brought me out to the Midwest to Kansas City, DeMoines, and Omaha. It was really big then, but in ’99 it started to slow down.”
In 2012 East moved permanently to the area. He joined the band Delorean as keyboardist playing in casinos and clubs throughout northeast Oklahoma and nearby states.
“We’re disbanding Delorean. A couple…