Bernie Williams is the star centerfielder for the New York Yankees professional baseball team. His talent has helped the Yankees win four World Series championship titles since 1996. Off the field, Bernie is an accomplished pop and jazz guitarist. He's just released an instrumental album called The Journey Within, which features several of his own compositions.
Bernie Williams has been trying to record his debut album for the past few years, but his "day job" as a Major League Baseball player has caused a few delays. Bernie says, "Having a full-fledged baseball career, it's hard to keep all your focus on music. It's been particularly hard on me trying to make a quality project that's up to my standards while keeping pace with the baseball season."
A former classical guitar student and amateur player for the past 20 years, Bernie Williams made his debut on the 2000 compilation album "Big League Rocks," which featured music by several other pro baseball players. His new solo release includes smooth jazz, samba, pop, rock, dance and even salsa, inspired by his Puerto Rican heritage. He's accompanied by well-known jazz and Latin stars, such as David Benoit on piano, Bela Fleck on banjo, and singers Ruben Blades and Gilberto Santa Rosa. Also making an appearance is Bernie's older brother, Hiram, an accomplished cello player. Bernie covers a tune by legendary singer and songwriter Billy Joel, and this one from classic rock band Kansas, "Dust In The Wind." Along with his thousands of baseball fans, Bernie Williams has also been attracting the attention of fellow musicians. Former Beatle Paul McCartney commented, "When I head this CD, I was blown away by his talent. Go Bernie, it's a home run!" Sir Paul was so impressed, that he recently signed Bernie to a contract with his multi-million-dollar music publishing company.
Bernie Williams says he tends to reveal his personal thoughts through his music, explaining, "Almost all the songs on the CD are from my experiences, things with my wife, my son and my late father, things like that. I think it's a very powerful form for me to express my feelings, more than I could express by words. Everyone who knows me knows I don't really talk that much."
Don't look for a follow-up album in the near future. Bernie says, "It might have to wait until I retire from baseball. I'm a musician at heart, but to be the musician I want to be, I'd have to practice five hours a day. I wouldn't settle for less. Right now, I have to settle for being the best baseball player I can be." After being sidelined for several weeks with a knee injury, Bernie Williams is back in center field with the New York Yankees. He recently played a concert at the House of Blues in Chicago, which coincided with Major League Baseball's All-Star Week.