Who is Joey Alexander?
Jazz pianist Joey Alexander earned a standing ovation from a star-studded crowd after his one-minute and 10-second performance at Monday night’s Grammy Awards, but for many viewers, the award ceremony marked the first time hearing the 12-year-old star. His debut album My Favorite Things dropped in May 2015 and at the time, the New York Times called Joey a “child prodigy … the most talked-about one that jazz has seen in a while.”
But who exactly is this young genius who has more Grammy nominees than One Direction? EW gives you everything you have to know about Joey Alexander:
1. Joey was this year’s youngest Grammy nominee
Though he didn’t take home the award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album or Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Joey remains the youngest nominee ever to be recognized in the jazz categories, and the sixth-youngest artist to receive a nod in any category since the award show’s inception.
2. He was also the youngest person to take the stage at the Newport Jazz Festival
Joey, born Josiah Alexander Sila, headlined the 2015 festival. He’s also been invited to perform at the Rochester Jazz Festival and a TED Conference.
3. Joey started playing piano at age 6
The Bali native taught himself to play after picking out a Thelonious Monk song by ear, and learned most of what he knows from records, YouTube, and amateur pianist dad Denny Sila.
4. At age 8, he played for legendary R&B and jazz musician Herbie Hancock
UNESCO asked Joey to perform for the 14-time Grammy winner during Hancock’s trip to Indonesia, where Joey lived before moving to New York in 2014.
5. A guest appearance at a Jazz at Lincoln Center gala put Joey on the map
After one of his YouTube videos caught the attention of Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director Wynton Marsalis, he invited Joey to perform at the organization’s 2014 gala. His version of “Round Midnight” earned the then 10-year-old rave reviews from jazz critics.
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6. Monday night wasn’t Joey’s first time playing for A-listers
At the 2014 Arthur Ashe Learning Center gala, Joey performed in front of former President Bill Clinton and Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts. He also jammed with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt during a 2015 appearance on the Today show.
7. My Favorite Things marked the first time an Indonesian act cracked Billboard’s U.S. albums chart
Joey’s first record debuted at No. 174 last spring and peaked at spot 59 last month.
8. The child prodigy can add magazine cover star to his resume
Joey covered Rolling Stone Indonesia’s February 2016 issue. A profile of Joey also appeared on the front page of the New York Times in May 2015.
9. Outside of jazz, Joey enjoys the music of Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and The Beatles
And he names Monk, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, and John Coltrane as his jazz influences.
10. Joey considers himself a regular kid
“I play sports — like, I play a little bit of tennis, swimming, like a normal kid,” he told NPR in August. “I watch movies.”
Enjoy Joey’s performance from Monday’s Grammys here: