Dawn Williams

Dawn Michelle Williams reveals her true heart and soul at the piano. She plays piano like it is an extension of herself bold, stunning, and vulnerable. As one who has studied under pianists who have both made her cry and have cried with her, Dawn knows how to awaken that wide spectrum of human emotions at the piano keys. Whether teaching a young girl to make her melodies "sing" or improvising blues on an old honky-tonk upright, Dawn uses music to probe, communicate, and inspire.

A native of Minnesota, Dawn grew up at the piano, first with the patient encouragement of her mother and then with pianists who not only taught her to read music, but challenged her to play what wasn't written. She learned at an early age to push boundaries when she discovered the art of improvisation. She began with a church hymnal, threading her own notes and chords into familiar melodies. She discovered ragtime and Spanish dances, melodies with spark and hints of spontaneity. Making new sounds was a skill that fit her, because in it she discovered an exciting new way to express herself and claim music as her own.

It's not that she found the classical style boring. Indeed, the same instructor who taught her to color outside the lines also bought Dawn her first classical piano book. That foundation provided her with a solid understanding of music and technique and is what makes her such a versatile pianist today. Now she is a featured musician at local art and restaurant venues, a pianist for wedding ceremonies and special events, a collaborative pianist for other musicians, and a seasoned member of worship bands.

At Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, Dawn earned a prestigious music scholarship. She studied under pianists who taught her the importance of hard work and accepting criticism. She also learned to see art in imperfection. During practice she would hit a wrong note but hear in the mistake a new sound with beautiful potential.

In her fun-loving spirit, Dawn created her first album, "Christmas Dreams," while still in college. It was only meant to be a Christmas gift for her parents, but when they started making copies for others, Dawn was inspired to keep going. She recorded another album of her own hymn arrangements, "Inspirations."

After graduation, Dawn moved to North Carolina with degrees in Music Performance and Communication Arts. After landing a "real job," she began teaching a few piano lessons on the side. As word spread, her studio grew to be a full-time endeavor. Her students range from four-year-olds learning to play a steady rhythm to adults who have been playing for years. Even with a full roster of students, Dawn continued to compose, perform, and build her music network. In 2010, she was introduced to producer Billy Smiley (White Heart, Steven Curtis Chapman, The Newsboys) and sound engineer Billy Whittington (Mixing engineer for Amy Grant, Denice Williams, and Vince Gill), out of Nashville, TN. With the help of professional musicians and engineers she was able to start recording her music on a higher level of quality with the added depth and production she felt could take her music to the next level.

Her self-titled EP of original music was released in 2010, followed by "Facing Forward," an album of popular cover songs, released in 2011. In 2013 she headed back to the studio to work on a project she had long-desired to record a full length Christmas album. While some inspiration was pulled from her original Christmas album recorded in college, "Wonder: Songs for the Season" brings to life traditional Christmas favorites in a fresh, imaginative light.

For the album's release, Dawn crafted and performed a Christmas concert, backed by full band, children's choir and narration by a local radio personality. With her first ticketed event successfully under her belt, Dawn hopes that this family-friendly Christmas show grows to become an annual tradition for many!

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