Tom Ameen is a Billboard-charting accomplished performer, composer, arranger and studio musician. In December of 1998, Tom recorded his first original album, “Treasure the Gift” which was well received. The next year, a chance meeting with Grammy-nominated songwriter and piano sensation Jim Brickman led Tom to Los Angeles where he went to work for Brickman arranging and scoring various projects. Tom’s arrangements can be heard on many of Brickman’s albums, including “Beautiful World” and the holiday album “Joy.” Inspired by the birth of his own niece and nephews, Tom recorded his second album, “Little Miracles,” which was his first all solo piano CD. Tom then signed with the Canadian record label, Mood Entertainment, and released five albums for them via Walmart, amazon.com and theme park specialty stores. “Solo Piano Moments,” a collection of cover music featuring songs from Lady Gaga to Madonna, was his next release and is available on iTunes. Tom then released four Disney-themed albums: solo piano versions of his favorite ride music from Walt Disney World and Disneyland. They were so popular that two of the albums made the Top 10 Billboard New Age Chart. Most recently Tom produced and released a Star Wars-themed album, featuring his most loved themes from the franchise, as well as an original song written in the Star Wars genre. A consummate entertainer and performer, Tom’s repertoire spans popular music and American standards to Broadway show tunes and epic film scores. Broadway World called a recent performance a “smash” hit and “a joyously entertaining show.”
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
The film composer John Williams is my sole inspiration for writing music. When I was 12 years old, my parents took me to see the film Superman II. It was the first time I had really noticed music. The John Williams score to that movie captivated me, and when we went home, I started playing the music on the piano by ear without any formal training. My parents were in shock that I could do that, and enrolled me in lessons. It was the theme to Superman that started it all for me!
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
One of the craziest things that happened is I got hired to play piano at a private party in Beverly Hills CA. I didn't know who the house belonged to or anything like that. Once I got to the gig, I sat down at the piano, started to warm up a bit, and this guy walks into the living room.. I looked up, and it was producer JJ Abrams. I was at his house, playing for a family/friend holiday gathering. They ended up being the sweetest people, and they all loved my playing. I played the Lost Theme to see if he would recognize it, and of course he did. It was a crazy night!
What has been the high point of your music path?
The highpoint of my career so far has been charting on Billboard Top 10 New Age. I had released two Disney albums of their theme park music. I'd always been a fan of the songs written for the Disney rides, like Yo Ho A Pirate's Life For Me, and Grim Grinning Ghosts from Haunted Mansion. But no one had ever done solo piano arrangements of these songs before. So I released 4 albums of the theme park music. Two of them made the Billboard Top 10 New Age charts. I was so surprised, and so stoked that people loved my music that much to make that happen. It was amazing!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I basically start with an idea, or maybe a short melody hook that I like, and then I build the song around that one idea. Most of the time, I start with the main chorus or refrain of the song, and then once I have that idea fleshed out, I build the verses from that. I write mostly instrumentals, but I have written a few songs with lyrics, and that's how I begin those as well, with a thought or idea.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I guess I find distribution and publicity the most challenging as an indie artist. The internet has helped so so much, and it's great that we can release music to fans without the need for a record label etc. But I have found that getting big publicity is still challenging if your name is not known. That's the one thing I would change. I'd like to see better access for indie artists to promote themselves nationally or internationally.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I would love to share the stage with John Williams. I'd love for him to conduct an orchestra to one of my original songs. He's such an inspiration to me and my music. I was always amazed by how he could write a melody to convey any character, plot point, or emotion in the movies, and I strive to do that with my instrumental music.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I usually prepare for my shows at home, and then I record, and time the rehearsal to make sure everything fits within a certain time, etc. I mainly do one man shows, so my rehearsals are just myself, my computer, and the keyboard! I always have to do relaxation techniques before a show however, because I can get bad stage fright.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
One of the hardest songs for me to write was a song I wrote for my parents, called Thank You. I wanted to surprise both of them for their 50th wedding anniversary, so I wanted the song to convey all the love and thankfulness I've felt through the years. This is one my songs that I wrote lyrics for. It took me a few months to write it, but I was happy with the outcome, and my parents loved it!
What's coming up in the future?
I'm working on some new music for 2019, all original. And I'd really like to record a holiday album next year. That's one thing I've never done yet. I love the holidays, so it would be a labor of love for me to produce some fun music for that time of year.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
For more information on Tom Ameen, please visit his website.