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Pianist Alex Zsolt discusses musical roots and new album
(Published: November 02, 2015)

Q: When did you learn how to play piano and who taught you.

A: I remember coming home from church and wanting to play the music that I heard that day. So, with one finger I went to a three manual house organ that someone gave my family and I tried to plunk out what I heard. I was five or six years old at the time.

Growing up, there wasn't a whole lot of resources at hand for my family. My first grade teacher in school, Mrs. Dockery, taught piano and organ on the side and gave me some lessons. Many of those lessons she gave for free. This was in Arkansas at the time.

When my family and I moved back to Michigan, it was then that I started to take lessons on a piano at the age of nine. It was an old upright piano that was purchased for $300 and was actually in a fire. But it had 88 keys on it and it worked just fine.

I am the first American born in my family. My parents and my brother came from Hungary after some very difficult moments in Hungarian history. There wasn't a lot of resources at the time while growing up. God had put the right people in my life at the right time. His timing is always right and is always on time.

Q: What inspired your passion for music.

A: Music was always a part of my life in one way or another. I always felt drawn to music early on and it made me feel connected to something. I just don't remember a time when music was not a part of my life.

Early on though, I just didn't know what I was supposed to do with it. As time marched on, I realized that God had placed a call on my life and it was God who placed the music in my life for a purpose. In fact, it was my mother who saw that music might be a part of my life while I was an infant. She later told me the story of how she could do anything in the house from cooking to cleaning and I would be still and quiet as long as the music was going. Once side A of the tape was finished, I would start crying and all that she would have to do is turn the tape over to side B and I would be quiet instantly.

It was at that moment that she thought to herself that maybe God will use this little guy for something great with music. We just all didn't know at the time what that would be or what it would look like.

Q: What artists influenced you the most while you were growing up.

A: I am a mutt when it comes to music. I listen and love so many styles of music. From jazz to classical to Broadway to Disney to gospel to country to pop and more. A great song is always a great song.

Some of my musical influences over the years have been Bela Bartok, Duke Ellington, Neal Hefti, many Disney legends like Richard Sherman of the Sherman Brothers, David T. Clydesdale, Sandi Patty Barry Manilow, John Legend, Whitney Houston, David Gates of Bread and so many more.

I like to listen to the Top 40 and for a lack of a better term, also the past 40. There is just so much great talent out there everywhere. Good music is simply good music. I do lean toward songs that have a brilliant melody, harmony, message, story and phrasing in its construction.

Q: How many albums have you released, and what was your first? When did it come out.

A: I have released 17 albums to date as well as 15 piano books that are published through various publishers such as Alfred Music and Hal Leonard. My first music album was Creations which was release my senior year in high school way back in 1997.

At that time a close friend of mine who sold me my first Roland digital piano also produced albums. His name is Will Rogers. He always told me to "write every single day" and I did. My first album is actually composed of all original instrumentals. That way we didn't have to pay out royalties, and it was a very personal album.

Q: Your bio states that you have visited nearly 1,000 churches. What is that experience like.

A: Actually, to date it is over 1,500 churches around the world and counting. This is my 17th year on the road. I've also have had opportunities to be at Disney's historic El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, CA and presidential museums.

It has been an incredible experience to be able to impact lives around the world and to share the music that God has placed in me in so many places. I never thought or dreamed that I would have opportunities to what I am doing and to share my faith, the music, and change lives through the music and God's word. What a life!

I am so incredibly thankful for each opportunity that is placed in front of me whether it is at a church, theatre or even a presidential museum. I've met some wonderful people around the world and have learned so much about different places in the world. With my calling in this life, I have met and made lifelong friendships that I treasure and know are gifts from God. I say this because I know that God doesn't want us to live alone like on an Island. I love God and I love people.

Q: When did you start your ministry. Tell us more about it.

A: I like to think that my ministry really started when my first album was released. It was that year (December 1997) when I started to go to churches and do concert ministry events. In 1998, I headed to music school at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, MI but also kept working at growing the ministry on a part time basis while still in school. I ended up with two music degrees, music education (BME K-12) and in composition (BM). The ministry started in my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI and then grew within the state of Michigan, then the Midwest, then the United States and then outside of the United States.

I have always felt called to music ministry. I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of 12. It was at a Christmas "Festival of Lights" program and the music was so moving but it was when Pastor Ed Dobson got up and shared a message that was a real turning point for me. He tied everything together between God's Word and His music. It all clicked for me and really made sense.

I switched to the piano at the age of 9 from the organ at the recommendation of a piano teacher. I believe that this was a God thing. God used this teacher to place me on the instrument of His choosing. At 14, I prayed a short prayer..."God, use me." I gave the talent and gift back to Him that year and never looked back. God's Word and music changed my life.

These were the turning points in my life. I have been called into ministry to change, encourage and impact lives.

At age 18 I had to make a decision to either head in the direction of Christian entertainment or ministry and I chose ministry. Ministry is where life change happens. I love walking with people in the times that are good and the times that are bad.

I headed to music school at 18 and had wonderful people who helped me develop my musical gift. God gives the gift and we have to do our best to develop the gift that He gives us. God gave His best and we have to give our best. It was at this time in my life, my early years of music school, where my ministry was developing and 17 years later, I am still a musicianary who shares His saving message anywhere God sends me.

It really is amazing to see with some time that has passed now where God can take us on the journey. My prayer in the end is that I have been faithful to the Call on my life and obedient in doing so.

I believe that we all cross paths to listen to each other and to encourage one another. God has been faithful to His promise and so must we at any cost. Jesus paid it all and I owe Him. My life verse is Ephesians 5:19, "speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." This verse is what I have held onto for the past 17 years of my ministry.

I recently saw a quote, and it summed up my feelings about the day we get to see Jesus face to face. I'd like to share it with you. "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything You gave me.'"

Q: How were the covers chosen on your latest effort, Songs from the Heart: Love Through the Years.

A: I started with a list of 500 songs and looked at what sold the most and read all the lyrics. Lyrical value is really important to me. I really wanted to take people on a musical tapestry of love songs throughout the years. It was hard to go from 500 songs, then 250, to 100 and then to 50, 25 and finally 10 with two bonus tracks.

I think this album has a song that connects with every living generation and songs that will mean much to future generations. It is mainly a piano album but I did want to add a cello on the songs from the 2000s and 2010s. Paul Nelson did an outstanding job on "Only Hope" and "All of Me." Here are some of his thoughts on his participation and approach to "All of Me" on this recording.

Something that you might also take notice on this album is that there is only one song with vocals on it performed by a fabulous vocalist by the name of Stephanie DeWolfe. This song is an important one to me because it is actually a love song to God. This is where the heartbeat of my ministry comes in. "Only Hope" is the song that allows me a place to put my heart and ministry in the mix of many favorite meaningful secular love songs.

I really wanted the message of this song to be heard and understood clearly and I think that is achieved by this being the only song with vocals on it. It became the focal point to the album.

It is an amazing song too because it was not only on sacred and secular radio but also in a feature film titled, A Walk to Remember. The hope is that this album will connect with different people from different moments in time.

More Information: http://pianocreations.com/

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