CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Next weekend, audiences will have the pleasure of seeing pianist George Winston perform at the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center in Clarksburg, a man so inspired by his own journey that he leaves a little something behind in every town he performs in.
In 2012, Winston had just completed a show in Sand Point, Idaho, when he was taken to the emergency room. He was then transferred to the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California, where he underwent a bone marrow transplant just months later.
As he regained his strength following surgery, Winston spent his time at the piano in the hospital auditorium every night.
“I was staying close by and had access to the auditorium piano,” Winston said. “So every night I was practicing, then I started touring again and all these songs kind of happened. I realized it was a benefit record for the City of Hope.”
It was there he composed his latest album, Spring Carousel, released in 2017.
“The album would not have happened without their treatment or access to their piano, so it was obvious that this was a benefit record for their work,” he said.
All proceeds from the album sales continue to benefit the cancer hospital.
But his philanthropic work extends much further.
“Starting in ’86, I realized I wanted to interact with the communities that invited me to play in addition to playing concerts, and ever since then we’ve been working with local food banks,” Winston said. “We ask people to bring cans of food, and they get proceeds from the CDs that are on sale at the show as well.”
Those who attend Sunday’s show at the Robinson Grand are asked to bring non-perishable food for donation to the Clarksburg Mission. Donations will be received in the lobby of the venue.
Songs of Winston’s 40-plus year career will be featured in his Sunday performance, which he says will be all solo instrumental.
“A little bit of guitar and harmonica, but it’s all solo instrumental,” he said. “It will be a mixture, kind of half ballads and half up tempo, I think. I’ll know a little bit more when it’s closer to it, but that’s usually the way it comes out, about half and half.”
Traditionally, Winston said he tends to alternate between his “winter” and “summer” shows each time that he plays somewhere.
Clarksburg’s audience will hear the winter show, which will feature a few familiar songs even for those new to Winston’s work.
“That consists of melodic folk piano songs from the recordings, as well as Vince Guaraldi. I’ll play some of his ‘Peanuts’ pieces,” he said. “Then there’s some up tempo stuff and New Orleans rhythm & blues piano. It’s kind of a mixture of the ballads and the up tempo.”
Winston’s performance is at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.