Joseph Akins
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Joseph Akins


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"CD Review by Kathy Parsons"

“Masterpeace” is pianist/composer Joseph Akins’ first solo release in ten years. A professor of recording industry at Middle Tennessee State University, Akins recorded this beautiful album on a Yamaha CFIII concert grand, and the sound quality is amazing. The title track arrived one day when Akins was improvising at the piano, after several years of “writer’s block.” Once that piece was realized, the music started coming almost faster than Akins could play it. The result is an exceptional piano CD designed for relaxation and to quiet the listener’s world. The nine tracks are all original compositions, and a few include keyboard washes for color.

As a young teenager, Akins played keyboards and saxophone in his father’s country-rock band in Tennessee, and occasionally you can hear a touch of that influence. As a college student, he played in rock bands and then turned to jazz. The death of his father and a health problem that challenged his music career changed Akins’ perspective on life as well as music. “Music became much more than notes and rhythms. It became about feeling emotions, expressing the soul, and helping others.” That focus is very apparent in Akins’ music, and his deep involvement in so many different kinds of music has helped him to create a musical voice that is uniquely his own while being universally understandable.

The title track opens the CD. Warm, inviting, and very calming, it is a lovely way to start! “Cane Creek” is blissfully serene with a lazy tempo and gentle flow. Keyboard washes create a sense of mystery and of seeking. “Finding Grace” is one of my favorites. A little darker than some of the others, there is a real poignance to the music. The slow melody and occasional discordance bring out the introspective nature of the piece - deeply emotional thinking at the piano. “In the Country” hints at Nashville piano legend Floyd Cramer. Leisurely and easy-going, images of a restful day in nature come floating through as the music plays. “Journey Home” is another beauty. Thoughtful and reflective, this one is a little more dramatic than some, offering passion as well as contentment. “Keys to the Heart” is my favorite. Shown as a “bonus track” on the CD, this piece was an expression of Akins’ grief from losing his father, but also expresses the peace that comes with the acceptance of one of life’s most difficult challenges. A testament to the healing qualities of music, this piece also celebrates life and feels like a tribute. Emotionally complex and absolutely honest, this is a truly great piece! I also really like “Inner Space,” another bonus track. More improvised and free-form, the repetitive left hand keeps the floating right hand somewhat grounded as it dances all over the piano.

“Masterpeace” is a great album for relaxing and unwinding. I don’t recommend trying to wake up with it! Joseph Akins is off to a very promising fresh start, and we’ll hope that the music keeps flowing. “Masterpeace” is available from,, and - Solo Piano Publications

"CD Review by Bill Binkelman"

Joseph Akins' named his label HeartSong Music and I can't think of a more fitting descriptor for Masterpeace. This is solo piano recording snuck up on me, i.e. the first playing didn't elicit a strong reaction but over time I began to resonate with the music. Containing nine tracks, the album delivers delicate and restrained flowing melodies with no over-the-top histrionics or overt displays of ivory pyrotechnics, yet it's also devoid of cliche faux sentimentality. Here's a piano album that I can play over and over again and enjoy each time.

Eschewing the convention of many new age piano offerings, the tracks on Masterpeace are longer than what one normally finds on similar recordings. The shortest cut, Present Moment, is over five minutes long and Finding Grace clocks in at a whopping eight and a half minutes. That these longer pieces remain inviting and warm rather than monotonous and redundant is a testament to the artist's compositional vision. The songs breathe slowly and unwind patiently, without straying too far into the minimalist vein, so that those who favor a more mainstream approach to the instrument, as opposed to the starker work of, e.g. George Winston, will warm to these peaceful meditations.

The title cut (Masterpeace) opens the album with gentle yet subtly sprightly refrains, setting the tone for the rest of what will follow. Cane Creek is more reflective and sparser with an intro featuring sustained notes that hover in midair like dust particles suspended in sunlight. There is some muted drama later in the track, as well as the (uncredited) subtle application of some synth textures (hard to detect unless you listen for them, but I'm confident I'm not imagining it). Finding Grace may also has some even more subtle keyboards, sounding like chorals, buried way down in the mix, but be assured that these other elements are barely noticeable and infrequent within each track where they occur, (their presence, though, is a plus, at least for my taste). Joy of Being opens with a cheerful refrain that conveys the playfulness of childhood before the main body of the song evokes the titular emotion but not in an audacious way, maintaining the quiet mood of the album. I like the rural nostalgic flavor (with a hint of bluegrass) present on In the Country and the sense of finality to Journey Home with its uptempo mood and elevated drama. The last two songs are listed as "bonus tracks" (although I'm not sure why unless this album was previously released in a shortened version). Of these two, I prefer the closing Inner Space which is the most reflective piece here, more minimal than the others and concerned with the silence between notes as much as the notes (which are deeply sustained) themselves.

I won't go so far as to say Joseph Akins is the next big thing in new age piano music, but it does bode well for him that Masterpeace stood out from the glut of similar albums I get sent, enough so that I heard it "call" to me for repeated playings. As I explored it more and more, I appreciated the care that went into the CD, from the tasteful digipack to the mastering and engineering and, of course, the compositions and performance. If I had to pick a single word to describe the album, I’d probably choose "inviting." This is an inherently friendly and approachable piano release but never overly commercial or too slick. It also embraces the new age music aesthetic without introducing a neo-classical influence, something for which I'm personally happy. For comparison's sake, I’d mention an overlooked new age/jazz piano and ensemble recording, Patrick Leonard's Rivers. For some reason, the two recordings strike me as similar in overall mood. Regardless of whether you share my opinion on that comparison or not, I recommend Masterpeace if you enjoy warm melodic solo piano music.

- New Age Reporter


Solo Albums

Masterpeace (2007)
Keys to the Heart (1997)
All Your Dreams (1985)

Albums with Other Artists

SEM 1 – a compilation; appearing with Unita and Ol’Skool on 2 tracks (2007)
Through the Veils – Unita (1998)

Film and Video

Almost Forgotten (2004)
Where Dreams Begin (2003)
The Yard Sale (1998)
NISOD Conference Video (1997)



Joseph Akins is an accomplished pianist, composer, producer and educator. He has performed extensively, produced numerous CDs, composed for film and helped others accomplish the same through education.

His most recent CD, Masterpeace (2007), is a collection of acoustic piano solos comparable to music from artists such as Jim Brickman, George Winston and David Lanz.

"Joseph's music is deeply moving, sacred & spiritual and takes the soul on a glorious journey - it paints beautiful images in the mind while haunting notes and rhythms edge open the heart.  Simply beautiful."  Rev.'s Dyann & Michael Woody (aka singer-songwriter duo -The Woodys)

Over the past 30 years, Joseph has performed at:
1) several music festivals including Riverbend Music Fesitval, Wine over Water and the Dogwood Arts Festival
2) several trade shows including the International New Age Trade Show and Whole Life Expo
3) many retail outlets such as Borders and Media Play
4) many churches, coffeshops and other venues.

Joseph is looking for opportunities to perform and license his solo piano music. He is also an assistant professor of recording industry at Middle Tennessee State University.