While many performing artists are still underemployed because of the pandemic, not quite so for Edward Callahan. The 2018 Nyack College School of Music alumnus released his first CD “The Minor Keys,” all works by Chopin and Schubert, in December 2019. The project debuted as one of the top ten traditional classical albums on the Billboard chart at #9 and reached #1 on the iTunes classical chart.
Now passionately at work on his second album, the piano performance major is finding other ways to use his gift. He was recently on the roster of pianists who taught masterclasses at an annual day-long event for music students in elementary through high school at The Gilmore in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Gilmore is the namesake of a late Kalamazoo businessman and philanthropist, Irving S. Gilmore. Trustees of the Gilmore Foundation committed to creating a platform for presenting audiences with world-class keyboard musical experiences and to discover exceptional keyboard artists through a non-competitive process with the goal of enhancing the careers of those artists.
Through his affiliation with The Gilmore, Edward was the featured artist to kick off KeysFest 2021, a free community concert earlier this year. The virtual performance was livestreamed from the Wellspring Theatre, another Kalamazoo venue.
An unexpected spotlight was cast on him this year when a children’s book, Little Eddie Goes to Carnegie Hall, was written by Sonya and Sean Hollins. When Carnegie Hall got wind of this, they decided to make the book available in their gift store.
Edward explains, “The book was a surprise to me and is dedicated to my very first piano teacher, Billie Netterwald. She taught me about improvising and seeing music all around me—which is all in the book. The book also talks about Carnegie Hall and some of the amazing African American musicians that have performed there and about the motivation to keep going for your dreams!”
Asked about his relationship with Carnegie Hall, he responds, “I’m not working with Carnegie Hall, but I think this book is great motivation for the future!” Not only is the book great inspiration for what lies ahead for Edward Callahan, but the lead author is none other than the person he calls his biggest cheerleader. “Sonya and Sean Hollins are my parents,” he reveals. “They surprised me with the book during an interview I did with the Kalamazoo Public Library. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Because the Kalamazoo Public Library was of one of the sponsors for Edward’s community concert at the Wellspring Theatre, it didn’t seem unusual for the children’s librarian to invite him to share about his upcoming performance following a virtual storytime. Though the story that was read sounded very to similar to his own life, he was shocked to learn the book was indeed about him.
“Sonya Hollins is very passionate about the unsung and about bringing recognition to those who have done and who are doing great things,” says her proud son. Mrs. Hollins is an author and publisher of several other children’s books and an online magazine, Michigan Community Voices.
There was a special reason Edward wanted to share the news of the book with his alma mater: “To remind the students and staff that God will see His plans through! I haven’t played at Carnegie Hall yet, but I felt this was a sign of promise.”