Hello, I am Joseph A. O’Donnell, and this is my story so far...
My introduction to a more disciplined environment of music began with the trumpet. I started playing trumpet at the age of 8. When I turned 14, I was First Trumpet and First chair in Connecticut’s All-State Orchestra and Jazz Band. I really thought I was going to be a professional trumpeter. I had studied at the Hartford Conservatory of Music under First Trumpet/First Chair of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. I was proud to perform at the Hartford Bushnell in front of 2,000 people under conductor Moshe Paranov, co-founder of the Hartt School of Music. And then my father purchased a piano. My reaction was similar to Mr. Sulu's (Star Trek) reaction to surprises… “My God”.
At age 15 my musical life changed. I left the trumpet behind for a new love, the piano. Instead of being left to single notes on a trumpet sprouting from the rear of a busy orchestra, I was learning and composing for piano. I could perform the bass, the rhythm, and the melody! I was hooked.
I began teaching myself as I already had extensive musical background and had a well-trained ear. My journey would eventually take me to lessons at the Hartt School of Music where I studied under a brilliant man named David Everly. He could hear and playback anything instantly. He was a patient teacher, but also tough. He was also blind.
This led me to my first “synthesizer”, a Casio. I took my new “synth” to college and a became friends with a like-minded musician who enjoyed playing music from the early-mid 70’s called progressive rock (Yes, Genesis, ELP, etc.). We entered a talent contest at Marist College and by golly we won (Intra-state college talent contest piano composition) performing Foolin’ Yourself from Styx among other songs. After playing for a few years, I was recognized by the NJ press after playing a gig at Bruce Springsteen's the famed Stone Pony. I was referred to as a “premier keyboard player and talent” for the successful rock band Second Look. The reviewer said, “listening to O'Donnell's keyboard talent... few area listeners would fail to be impressed." I was thrilled.
The next part of my journey was movies. I won two awards scoring for two movies: “The Rented House” (the horror genre) and “Second Chances” (a romantic comedy). I was proud to earn the Connecticut Cable Laurel Television Award for "Outstanding Music" in the award-winning movie "The Rented House”. The award was presented by Skitch Henderson, former bandleader of the Tonight Show. I next won an award for all composition of music for Connecticut's Public Television and Connecticut Commission on the Arts award-winning movie "Second Chances." Coincidently, Second Chances is a song duet I am currently re-recording.
And then there was Broadway. As Musical Director of Cole Porter’s Broadway show "Anything Goes" at the Thomaston Opera House of Connecticut. I conducted and arranged all vocals, performed, and recorded all music, created all sound effects, and coordinated all dancing with musical arrangements via home studio and computer. It was the first musical in Thomaston to sell out 8 nights in a row. It was cited by critics as a "smash hit,". It was also the first ever MIDI production of a musical in the area. Next, I played and arranged all keyboards for the Broadway Musical "Little Shop of Horrors" debuting at the Thomaston Opera House of Connecticut.
Today, I have a new studio, marking my time finally creating and recording new songs and re-recording older songs I have been longing to recreate. I reside with my wife Maria of 33 years in quaint New England and have two beautiful grown-up children. I spend my professional time as an IT consultant keeping my free time available for music and family. I plan on releasing my new songs in the end of 2022. A mix of rock, ballads, classical and dance music.