George Winston Biography
George Winston (born 1949) is an American pianist who was born in Michigan, and grew up in Miles City, Montana, United States. He is considered to perform in the new age genre, and many of his pieces reflect natural landscapes. He is one of the best-selling artists on the Windham Hill label. Although he is widely recognized as a "new age" artist, Winston's virtuoso piano is not classified by his fans in the same genre as easy-listening music along the lines of Yanni. He refers to himself as playing "Rural Folk Piano." Winston is often heralded as one of the greatest atmospheric piano composers of non-classical music. His album December is meant to capture the essence of the season, and his debut, Ballads and Blues 1972 - The Early Recordings, is an essential sample of 20th century American piano music. Winston's reputation has often been hindered by his label as a "new age" artist.
George Winston was first recorded by John Fahey for Fahey's Takoma Records. The album Ballads and Blues disappeared without much notice. However, in 1979, William Ackerman talked with Winston about having Winston record for Ackerman's new record label - Windham Hill Records. At first George Winston played some slack-key guitar pieces he liked and then he played some of his night-time music on the piano. Ackerman fell in love with the night-time music and that became the basis for the best-selling record Autumn, which Ackerman produced. George Winston has described the music on Autumn as "Christmas carols for Halloween". Autumn was well-reviewed in Rolling Stone magazine in 1980 and it suddenly became the best-selling record in the Windham Hill catalog, a position it held for many years. All his subsequent records have sold very well, December and Winter into Spring both went platinum (million-plus sales in the United States).
Winston's 1994 album Forest won a 1996 Grammy Award for "Best New Age Album".
Winston's 2002 album Night Divides the Day: The Music of the Doors takes the music of legendary 1960s band The Doors and turns it into solo piano. Winston tries to adapt the music to a more peaceful medium, without losing any of its creative ingenuity. The album has been a great hit with Winston fans and Doors fans alike. (The title of Winston's album is a lyric from "Break On Through", the first track of the Doors' self-titled first album. Winston wrote in his liner notes that when he listened to the song for the first time as a teen, "... to me it was the greatest piece of music I had ever heard ... I had never heard anything like this.")
Outside of his piano compositions and performances, he is an accomplished blues harmonica and slack-key guitar player. While he mainly plays these instruments in concert only, and not on recordings, both his harmonica and guitar playing can be heard on his album Remembrance: A Memorial Benefit, which was released shortly after the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States. He produces recordings of Hawaiian slack-key guitarists for his own record label, Dancing Cat Records.