Faces of Kansas City: Pianist's goal is to keep jazz thriving - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: Pianist's goal is to keep jazz thriving in KC

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Musician Tim Whitmer has one goal – to keep jazz alive and thriving in Kansas City.

"I feel blessed and lucky to be making a living as a musician. I love playing the piano and I get to meet new people every day, people I would not have seen if I didn't play the piano," he said.

Whether it's the Green Lady Lounge, The Phoenix, a church or a wedding, Whitmer has had a steady gig for 25 years.

Whitmer studied at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri–Kansas City before deciding that his future would lie in jazz.

"I just loved it from the start. I just thought it was - what a magical thing to hear, to play the piano and have these sounds come out and it moves people, and it makes people happy and they sing and dance. I said, ‘I want some of that,'" he said.

The seeds were planted early as music brought his family together.

"So many events, family events, would end up by the piano, and my family was no different. We would have family get-togethers and then mom would play and grandfather would sing. I started playing when I was 7 or 8," Whitmer said.

In 1998 he reached a career high, playing original pieces for an audience at Carnegie Hall in New York. There he had a surprise waiting for him in the first two rows.

"What was equally exciting was that we had over 200 people from Kansas City fly up to the concert. So, what was fun was that even though I'm at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and yes, maybe a little nervous, I look out in the first and second rows and it's all my friends and family from Kansas City, MO. That helped," Whitmer said.

That kind of loyalty is what has kept him afloat in an unpredictable industry, but Whitmer says what he gets from his fans, he also gives in return.

"I feel that if a person comes in and spends their hard earned money to hear me play, I want to give them a good show, and I want to leave them with a sense of joy," he said.

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