But for Tuesday’s performance he was accompanied by saxophonist Emmanuel Williams, 16, a student at McQueen High School.
The two came together around and old Starck piano following Joseph’s presentation to a room full of Boys and Girls Club children.
Just moments before the impromptu show, about 20 club members gathered in the room. Some were just barely in the second grade while others went to local high schools. However, according to site coordinator Matt Sampson, all were hand-picked for the presentation because of their interest in music.
Joseph said that he wanted to give the presentation to the kids because he had once been a musically inclined Boys and Girls Club kid himself.
“I still am,” he said with a smile.
At 8 years old, Joseph received a music scholarship through the club in his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz. that put him under the tutelage of Russian pianist Stella Saperstein.
Twenty-plus years, two albums and one Canadian tour later, Joseph was asked to perform in Reno as part of Reno’s Artown festival. Joseph has backed up such artists as Barbara Streisand, Natalie Cole, Kenny G., Il Divo and Peter Cincotti on the piano at concerts around the world. He played Tuesday night at the Robert Z. Hawkins outdoor amphitheater in Bartley Ranch.
“It is because of the club that I am here today,” Joseph said. “The club helped me understand my full potential.”
Joseph said that his elementary school teachers predicted that his antics would eventually land him in jail.
He was not behind bars on Tuesday. Rather, he was pulling McQueen Middle School Student Samuel Williams, 15, out of the audience and asking him to tickle out a tune on the piano at the front of the room. Samuel improvised a jazz song with a steady bass line and a quick, fun melody. In the back row, Michael Smith, 16, of Spanish Springs High School, tapped out a rhythm on his knee. Joseph noticed and called Michael to the front.
Using a wood table for a drum, Michael tapped out a bass line to Samuel’s piano tune.
Boys and Girls Club of the Truckee Meadows president Mike Wurm said that the musical moment was what the presentation was all about.
“You never know what you will find in yourself,” Wurm said. “I hope they (the kids) get some inspiration through this.”
Joseph echoed the sentiment.
“We cannot just keep (our talents) to ourselves,” Joseph told the group. “It is up to us to share our gifts with people and the emotion will be passed on to other people. In order to inspire, your music needs to he heard.”
After the performance, as he joined Joseph on the piano, Samuel said that he would probably practice and play more now. Emmanuel, Samuel’s brother, was invited to play his soprano sax at Joseph’s final private concert Tuesday night at the Hawkins Amphitheater.
About 2,000 children actively participate at the northern Nevada Boys and Girls Club, according to center statistics. Nationally, Boys and Girls clubs reach more than 4.5 million kids with 4,300 club locations in all 50 states. The club’s mission is to “enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”