Gina Williams has been receiving messages of music in her head since she was a toddler, and they come in all genres.
A producer, actress, singer, pianist and composer, Williams too defies limitation. And she’s bringing her many talents, and many genres, to Maine next week for two outdoor shows, in Bridgton and Stonington.
Williams will be playing everything from gospel to jazz and ’70s funk during the pair of shows. She also told me she’ll add a sprinkle of original neo-classical tunes, along with covers of Whitney Houston and Etta James.
“Expect to laugh and participate in a good, old-fashioned fun experience with a modern twist,” Williams said in an email. She’ll be on the piano and will incorporate custom and original backing tracks into the show.
Williams is originally from Alberta, Canada. While she still calls Canada home and lives there part-time, she’s mostly hangs her hat in Washington state.
Williams said her first recollection of singing was doing a duet with her mother in church at age 4, though her mother tells her she was singing before she could talk. She knew at a very early age that she wanted music to be the primary focus in her life. What’s even more fascinating is that Williams has been hearing fully finished songs and pieces in her mind since she was a young child. “Fortunately, I remember almost every piece I’ve received and have been able to write or perform them years later,” noted Williams. Williams earned a master’s degree in piano performance from the University of Alberta where she trained as a concert pianist.
Although she holds the degree in piano, Williams said singing has been a passion forever and she eventually got to pursue that dream by riding a Greyhound bus to take vocal lessons in Los Angeles, where she studied with vocal coach Seth Riggs who has worked with Michael Jackson and Barbara Streisand. “It took me seven years going from opera to jazz to R&B to find the voice I really wanted,” said Williams.
Growing up, Williams was exposed to lots of Bach and Beethoven as well as music from TV, including theme songs and songs used in shows. Even songs she heard at shopping malls made their way into her ears and influenced Williams.
Her latest album is “Touch Down,” released last week, and it’s a bouncy dance party spread over 10 tracks. But that’s not all. Williams released two other albums this year and is near completing another.
“Take All of Me,” released in July, has her at the piano and its 11 gospel/inspirational songs showcase her impressive vocals and piano chops. Don’t worry if you think this type of music isn’t your bag. It usually isn’t mine, but Williams’ makes it accessible to anyone who appreciates big, sweeping vocals and the sound of someone whose been playing piano since the age of 6.
“The Trilogy Pt. II – Music For Ballet” is an instrumental piano album, released in June, and is soothing, peaceful, playful and quite moving. Williams’ next one, “Toxic Love,” will be released later this fall.
What I was most curious about was why Williams releases music in so many different genres. Williams explained that she hears music in her head in many styles and in every key, harmony and sound, and she never knows when what she describes as “gifts from God” will arrive. Williams, however, is clear about what making music means to her.
“I believe this gift was meant to bring the world closer together one song or work at a time,” she said.
She also believes that listeners can recognize each other in different sounds that they may not be accustomed to. Williams also considers her gift to be something of an enigma, but she hopes it can help people, especially in light of what we’ve all endured over the past year and a half.
“I want everyone who hears my music to feel heard, supported, and understood,” she said. “To feel even inspired to make a change for the better that may impact us all.”
Williams and I agree that genres matter less and less.
“People are more interested in what they enjoy without having to classify it as something,” she said.
And while she appreciates why genre is helpful in terms of marketing and awards, she doesn’t want to have to be contained in one specific box and even suggests that people consume her music in small doses.
“My art does not make sense. Artists don’t release choral and orchestral music and then release Caribbean/pop music two years later. But I do,” she said.
She contends that, if listeners are willing to expect the unexpected and can let go of trying to control their musical experience, they will love her. “Because I’m the musical version of that level of unpredictability of humanity, but in a safe listening zone.”
1 p.m. Sunday. Bridgton Twin Drive-In, 383 Portland Road, Bridgton, $50 per vehicle. denmarkarts.org.
6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15. Stonington Ball Field, School Street, Stonington, $5, bring your own chairs and snacks. operahousearts.org.