JOSHUA VOORHIES is shown (right) with his 93-year-old grandmother, Rhua Bliss, who was thrilled to have the opportunity to hear her self-taught grandson perform on the piano before he moves to Florida.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


     Joshua Voorhies, 24, of Owosso, started playing the piano at 4-years-old, with this mother, Catrina Gardner, providing him his early lessons. Following, Voorhies took off with his own training, pursuing his piano passion on his own, though sometimes seeking techniques or alternate methods through YouTube. The family did not have money for private lessons, but that simply did not stop Voorhies. In truth, nothing has stopped him and he has had some considerable obstacles to overcome.

  Voorhies and his mother both struggle with epilepsy. Gardner explained, “Each of us have seasons when our seizures go out of control and it is really difficult to find a good medicine. The last couple of years have been extremely grueling for him. But he never quit and it’s really hard to not give up. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of gumption and a lot of ambition and a don’t quit attitude.”

   Voorhies explained that it took him nine years to graduate from Lincoln Alternative High School in Owosso due to his health problems, but just like with the piano and epilepsy, Voorhies persevered with high school, too. Now he is looking at a big move to Florida and furthering his education in college. The upcoming life altering change prompted him to want to offer a special “farewell” style piano concert for his family, though he will of course remain connected to his Michigan roots. He has a 93-year-old grandmother, Rhua Bliss, who dreamed of seeing him perform at the Lebowsky Center for Performing Arts before he moves to Florida. Voorhies hoped to be able to offer his grandmother and family members the concert they wanted to hear.

   Voorhies shared he knew Lebowsky Executive Director Kathy Brooks so he reached out to her to help. She did and Voorhies is grateful for her assistance in organizing the piano performance he offered to his family on the historic Lebowsky stage on Friday, March 11. He played several piano arrangements for his family. Many were his own interpretation of songs including mixes of Beethoven’s Fur Elise and Send in the Clowns. Voorhies chose songs that were particularly sentimental to him or his family. 

   Beethoven is his favorite composer. His mother taught him Beethoven from the start and Voorhies is particularly inspired by how Beethoven overcame his deafness to compose music, finding that message hits home for him on a very personal level.

   “I love all kinds of music,” Voorhies said. “I most relate to Beethoven. I understand in a way, what it’s like not being in control of your health.”

   Approximately 25 family members attended the unique concert.

Self-taught Owosso Pianist Provides Family with Dream Concert was last modified: March 22nd, 2022 by Karen Elford