James Rhodes is a British concert pianist. Largely self-taught, Rhodes has released five best-selling albums and is known for his refreshing performances that ignore the usual formality and tradition of classical music. Rhodes never performs in a suit, holds his concerts in non-traditional venues and entertains the crowd with stories about famous composers and how they affected his own life in between pieces. You can watch his insane talent on display in a number of videos on his YouTube channel.
Classical music quite literally saved Rhodes’ life. As a child, he was sexually abused for a number of years, which left Rhodes both mentally and physically damaged. Mental health issues stopped Rhodes from taking up a scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and he stopped playing piano entirely for 10 years. Throughout all of Rhodes’ pain, music was his one saving grace. Writing about one of his favorite pieces by Bach: “That piece became my safe place. Any time I felt anxious (any time I was awake) it was going round in my head. Its rhythms were being tapped out, its voices played again and again, altered, explored – experimented with. I dove inside it as if it were some kind of musical maze and wandered around happily lost. It set me up for life; without it I would have died years ago, I’ve no doubt.”
During his years away from the piano, Rhodes worked a corporate job which he was miserable in. On his decision to finally start playing piano again: “Only when the pain of not doing it got greater than the imagined pain of doing it did I somehow find the balls to pursue what I really wanted and had been obsessed by since the age of seven – to be a concert pianist.”
Created by James Rhodes and Gavin Aung. Want more? Find it here.