People may not be immediately familiar with the names Jon Schmidt, Paul Anderson, Steven Sharp Nelson or Al van der Beek. However, millions of people worldwide are familiar with the incredible music that these four Latter-day Saint dads create under the name The Piano Guys.
The Piano Guys have become a YouTube phenomenon with their unique take on several familiar songs. They set up their YouTube channel on 25 March 2008, and eight years later, they have amassed 4.9 million subscribers, with more than 991 million views of their videos. The dynamic music duo of John Schmidt (piano) and Steven Sharp Nelson (cello) have even created a unique masterpiece by combining classical great Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart with pop sensation Michael Jackson. All of the sounds in the amazing video “Michael Meets Mozart – 1 Piano, 2 Guys, 100 Cello Tracks” are created with the instruments played by Schmidt and Nelson. They can do it all – recreating a variety of music into musical mashups, from songs in the hymnbook to today’s most popular radio tunes – always leaving their audiences wanting more.
Not only have they gained popularity through their YouTube videos, but The Piano Guys have also been seen nationwide on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Katie Couric, and Fox News to name but a few of the countless media venues. They also have a social media presence on Facebook. Their creativity knows no limits. They shoot their music videos with a grand piano and cello in extremely dangerous locations at times, such as on a cliff. That’s the excitement of it all – along with Al van der Beek as their producer, and Paul Anderson as the cinematographer, you never know what they might come up with next. Their musical adventures have taken them to the top of a mountain peak, floating down a river, in front of a waterfall, and even surrounded by a crumbling Scottish castle – from the cliffs of the Grand Canyon to the Great Wall of China.
In a 20 July 2016 article, LDS Living.com revealed, “Even though much of their work is secular, The Piano Guys have never shied away from advertising their faith through their music. They’ve collaborated with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and other well-known LDS artists like Alex Boyé, and they’ve also performed renditions of many spiritual songs.”
In 2012, The Piano Guys signed a record deal with Sony. This summer they are on tour sharing their excellent music with audiences nationwide including a concert performance in their hometown on Saturday, 16 July 2016, at the USANA Amphitheater in West Valley. During that show, Sony music reps walked onstage unannounced and surprised them by presenting them with their first gold record. Anyone who has ever watched one of their YouTube videos or has been privileged to see them perform live will know that this is a well-deserved honor. To date, The Piano Guys have released 5 CDs: The Piano Guys, The Piano Guys 2, The Piano Guys Wonders, The Piano Guys A Family Christmas, and The Piano Guys Live!
An 18 July 2016 Deseret News article reports, “Audiences enjoyed the comedic, often corny antics and goofy if rehearsed rapport between Schmidt and Nelson. Schmidt employed his old party tricks — playing upside down or with his toes — and Nelson had more than a few silly gags of his own, such as pretending to fall asleep while playing Pachelbel’s Canon or using a disco-era talk box to invoke a ’70s vibe for one song.”
Even with all of the success that they have garnered over the past eight years, The Piano Guys stay close to their faith and their families by recording in the basement of a home in Salt Lake City, Utah. Steven Sharp Nelson commented, “There is an understanding that family will always come first. We’re dads first and foremost, and that’s been an important thing for us, and it’s kept us alive, it’s kept us inspired, and kept us doing what we’re doing.”