His future’s completely In Focus
Elk Point, SD native to release his newest CD at Nov. 28 concert
By Bob Eschliman
– Sheldon, IA
Published November 20, 2003

Elk Point, SD—While most of his fellow graduates of Elk Point-Jefferson High School are working hard to get their way through college, Joe Curry already is well on his way to fulfilling his dream. Ever since he was a sophomore in high school, the 22-year-old pianist has wanted to write and record his own music for others.

On Friday, November 28, the composer-performer will release his second CD, “In Focus,”during a special concert at St. Joseph’;s Catholic Church in Elk Point. While it’s hardly the culmination of his hard-working career, it marks yet another milestone that started with just a piano and a tape recorder in 1997.

“During my sophomore/junior year of high school, I recorded two cassettes using a simple tape recorder. IN early 1997, I made ‘Flowing Ebony & Ivory,’ followed by ‘Seasonal Mix’ later in the year,” he said. “The cassettes were compilations of easy listening, popular and classical music, which I distributed to family and friends as gifts.”

Like most people who find their passion, once he had done his first recording, the bug had bit him. In April of 1998, he began composing songs for his first official CD, “Milestones.” With no formal training and little in the way of financial backing, he proceeded with just a copy of the book “How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording” in his hand and a love of music in his heart.

“I became interested in professionally recording my own music after learning about other musicians who had independently recorded and promoted their music,” Curry said. “Though I”ve not had formal music composition studies, I compose music from the heart and use sing-able melodies.”

In fact, the only study he’s ahd at all was the piano lessons he took for 12 years from a couple of Elk Point women and a professor at Briar Cliff College in Sioux City.

“I began piano lessons when I was six years old and in first grade. I continued taking lessons through my senior year of high school,” he said. “From my first piano teacher, I learned about chord progressions and how to augment the melody in the right hand with chord improvisations in the left hand.”

“I also took one semester of private piano lessons at the University of Minnesota to further develop my piano playing technique.”

Ultimately, Curry picked the Rainbow Recording Studios in Omaha to record his first CD. It was the closest studio that had the kind of piano he wanted to work with: an acoustic grand piano. After the music had been recorded, he sought out a good graphic artist to work on the cover art. He wound up with Jim Hinman, who had done the artwork for the popular pianist Lorie Line.

In addition to the CD, he also produced a piano book with arrangements from the 12-title disc. Meanwhile, he continued to write more music. He later wrote “Test Your Wings,” which was performed at this high school class’ graduation. He also wrote “Will You Walk With Me?” as a tribute to a local teen who died in a car accident.

Sales of “Milestones” were brisk from the beginning. Curry had struck a chord, both literally and figuratively, with his audience. While wrapping up his business degree at the University of Minnesota, he went back to writing more music that would become the impetus for his newest 14-track album, “In Focus.”

“I am happy to be able to share my music with others—whether you’re listening to my music or playing it on the piano—to invoke your imagination and try to feel each song,” he said. “It has been a fun musical journey, and I hope to continue writing and sharing my music with you in the future.”