It’s remarkable how we can identify some songs, simply by their opening notes. We sit up straighter, turn up the volume knob on the radio (or these days, dial up the volume on our smartphones), and wait with breathless anticipation for the rest of the song to unfold. That’s the way it is for me with Frank Mills. This three-time Juno Award winner is a Canadian solo instrumentalist, arranger, composer, and the musical prodigy who made the piano a cool instrument for me to play. You could say that music is in the blood; his mother and his sister were also pianists. And yet, at first, Mills wanted to pursue a career in medicine before he changed his major, and embarked on a career in music. I’m glad he chose to ‘heal’ with the power of music instead.
The Montreal-born Mills is best known for “Music Box Dancer”, an accidental sleeper hit that clinched the top spot in 26 countries, thanks to two differing stories: one that described the misshipment of the single to the wrong radio station, and the other which involved the decision of a DJ to play the flip side of a dormant Polydor album. Mills’ repertoire contains many more personal favourites, including the enchanting “The Peter Piper Theme”, the upbeat “The Happy Song”, and the romantic “Love Me Love Me Love.” The rollicking, infectious exuberance with which he tickles the ivories during his compositions communicates an unmistakeable joie de vivre. I cannot help but feel uplifted whenever I hear any of his music. To quote Will the Krill of Happy Feet Two, “It brings out my happy.”
At 71, with 28 albums to his credit (of which 20 have been certified gold or platinum), this humble, yet ebullient man–who also pulls stints as a regular TV personality–shows no signs of slowing down, even though he “officially” retired 13 years ago. He continues to make the magic, most recently with his 2013 “A Music Box Dancer Christmas Tour: My Piano and Me.” Visit frankmills.com for all the tour dates.