John Burke, a classically trained pianist with four solo albums under his belt, came to Georgia State to study management and finance, not music.
“I’m a pianist instead of a budget analyst or politician, but the master of public administration program prepared me in many ways for my music career,” he said. “As an independent artist, I have to run myself like a business. I need to budget, market, provide a service and work with people.”
His latest release, “Orogen,” was nominated for Best New Age Album for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
“When I saw my name, which was right next to Enya, my heart skipped a beat. I jumped and screamed and hollered and probably came close to getting evicted,” Burke said.
As an independent artist with no record contract, booking agent or band manager, Burke takes special pride in the nomination. “Orogen” was the only independently produced album in the category.
His first two records, “Synesthesia” and “Reverie,” released in 2011 and 2013, respectively, were critically acclaimed. For “Orogen,” Burke found his inspiration in nature: The orogen is the region of the Earth’s crust where mountains are formed.
“Each piece in ‘Orogen’ represents a tectonic occurrence, and within each piece, there is a subtle melody that grows gradually throughout the album,” he said. “‘Orogen’ is a story of melodic development.”
While Burke didn’t take home the Grammy this year, the 28-year-old said the experience of seeing himself on the big screen at the biggest music celebration in the world was a rewarding one. He’s already working toward getting on the ballot again.
“I’m so grateful to achieve this nomination and, honestly, I feel like I won,” Burke said. “But I’m crazy motivated to get back out there with a new project later this year.”
Illustration by Adam Cruft