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Friday

September 2014

19

Oconomowoc pianist Luke Edgewood's professional and spiritual foundations are grounded in music

Luke Edgewood was just a little boy when he fell in love with the piano.

"My family moved from Canada to Waukesha when I was 5-years-old. We were very poor. I remember the first piece of furniture in our house, before beds or a couch, was a piano. My dad played the accordion and he wanted our home to be centered around music," he said.

That piano would become the spark behind a lifelong passion and a professional music career that has taken Edgewood on a journey way beyond his humble upbringings.

"I started taking lessons when I was 7 and I never missed a lesson. I knew right away that playing the piano was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," admitted Edgewood. "I felt my options in life were limited and the piano was my escape. It was my way to travel and I got lost in that."

Edgewood continued his classical training until the age of 15 and then began taking private lessons with Milwaukee jazz pianist Eugene Pairan. "Eugene really taught me - more than notes. He taught me how to get in the business and make it work," he added.

Edgewood started playing in local rock groups when he was in high school at Waukesha North. "I would look for ads in music stores and go on auditions. I was actually making money," he said, laughing.

After graduating high school, Edgewood pursued a liberal arts degree with an emphasis in music from Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis, Wis. The pianist was also playing in a disco band five nights in Chicago. "I was starting to get into electronic keyboard music. It was so great - what an experience," reminisced Edgewood.

In the early 1980s, Edgewood was a member of the Milwaukee alternative dance band, The Toys, and then found unexpected success in country music with the band, Showdown.

"I never thought I would ever play in a country band, but it was the 1990s and country music was really popular. Showdown became the house band for FM106 and we opened for over 60 national acts, like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, when they came to town. It was unbelievable," he said.

While performing on stage at night, during the day Edgewood spent his time composing original music and teaching at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music on Milwaukee's eastside. Selections from his CD "It's all good" were used for ABC's WISN TV theme music, as well as Channel 36 TV documentary soundtracks in 2011.

Ten years ago, Edgewood started to focus on his solo piano career and in 2008 he formed the well-known jazz/pop band, Entourage, featuring the vocal talents of his wife, Carol Somers. The group played regularly at the Mason Street Grill, as well as Blu martini bar in the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

Edgewood was also the house pianist for four years at Piano Blu restaurant and nightclub in Pewaukee and this fall, he became the house pianist for the Italian restaurant and piano bar, Vino Cappuccino in Brookfield.

Life changing moments

As he was busy building his musical career during the early 1980s, Edgewood was brought to his knees during a Billy Graham concert at the Milwaukee County Stadium.

"I was so tired and didn't really want to go, but ended up going in to check it out. There was a choir - there must have been 1,000 voices. When they started singing, it just floored me. Slowly but surely, everyone else just faded away. It was unbelievable. I knew I needed to get involved with Christian music," said Edgewood.

The pianist went to Chicago and recorded an album of original Christian music titled "More Than Saviour" which sold more than 1,000 copies. He went on to perform in a wide variety of churches and Christian festivals.

Since 1996, Edgewood provided piano and keyboard support for several worship teams at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield. He met his wife, Carol after hearing her sing in church. The couple began singing and playing music together and has been married for 17 years.

This last summer, Edgewood received a call from longtime his friend and former bandmate, Steve Hoppe. "He asked me if I would consider a position at his church, First Congregational UCC of Oconomowoc. The church offers a traditional worship service at 8:30 a.m. and a contemporary service with praise music at 10 a.m. They needed someone to lead the Praise Team. I prayed on it and I felt a very strong calling that it was the right thing to do and I accepted," he said.

"I have always felt God breathed this talent into me and playing contemporary Christian music is the best way I can give back to the community," added Edgewood. "I know I am here to serve God and to use my talents to help people grow spiritually and build closer relationships with each other. I look forward to playing at First Congregational every week. It has been so wonderful."

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