There were many pioneers in the development of contemporary piano. Homestyle Music recognizes important contributions to current piano performance. Two pianists we think were essential in helping to develop modern piano music are Jerry Lee Lewis and Stevie Wonder. Both musicians have used their talents on pianos to bring people of various races, religions, cultures, and ethnicities together. Jerry Lee's sister, Linda Gail Lewis, shared with Homestyle Music that she and her brother both "learned how to boogie" growing up having listened to, and participated in, passionate and intense music at church services they attended.
Homestyle Music's own Katie Hester and Stevie Wonder are both natives of Detroit, Michigan. It was there where they experienced "praying without words," as their souls were touched and drawn closer to God through the gift of music. Stevie Wonder and Jerry Lee Lewis both overcame the stigmas and unjust cultural norms that separated white and black persons. Jerry Lee reached out and collaborated with many African American musicians even during his years living, and sharing music, in the Jim Crow South. His friendships and work with influential black musicians, including Little Richard and Chuck Berry, helped pave the way for Stevie Wonder and others to succeed at music in spite of their challenges to the status quo. It helped allow persons with disabilities, such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles who were both blind, to achieve success performing music. --James Hester