Prodigy pianist Ethan Bortnick has shared the stage with everyone from Elton John and Barbara Streisand to Il Volo and Katy Perry. The 13-year-old from Pembroke Pines – a piano-playing composer, singer and actor – just kicked off his nationwide 50-city The Power of Music Tour, based on his popular TV special, which aired on PBS Station WLRN.
Bortnick is also now a certified a Guinness World Record title-holder as "The World's Youngest Solo Musician to Headline His Own Tour.”
Despite his global fame and accolades from Oprah and “Esquire” magazine, Bortnick insists he’s just a regular kid off stage.
Here’s what the talented teen had to share about fame, growing up in South Florida and the importance of staying true to one’s dreams.
How does it feel to be headlining your own tour when you’re not even in high school yet?
“It’s really cool to be on my own tour. We’ve done a few shows so far, and I’m playing everything from classical to jazz to rock and pop. I have a lot of special guest singers for the show, and I’m always excited to meet fans on the road.”
You’ve gotten to work with some of the biggest entertainers in the music business. Has anyone really gotten you star-struck?
“I’m really excited to work with everybody I’ve gotten to work with, and they’ve all taught me different things. They’re just regular people like me and you.”
Is there a certain celebrity you’d love to perform with you?
“My brother would be really cool to perform with on stage. He takes piano lessons as well, but he’s more into sports.”
Who inspires you musically?
“A lot of people inspire me musically. I really love listening to everyone from The Beatles to Chopin. It doesn’t really matter to me. I just love all music, but when I started playing piano at age 3, I didn’t really have anyone to inspire me to do it. I asked my parents for piano lessons and they said no. Then I started copying all the music I heard on the radio and playing it on my toy keyboard. My parents heard me and started filming me and then they said ‘OK, we’re getting you piano lessons!’ ”
What do you enjoy most about growing up in Pembroke Pines?
“I’m still growing up there. I’m only home 30 percent of the time, and when I’m home, I really love it. I enjoy going to the beach, going out to eat and hanging out with my friends. Gulfstream is always a fun place to go. I also enjoy being a student at Hochberg Preparatory School. I’m in seventh grade, and my teachers are great about giving me my homework in advance while I’m on the road and Skyping with me.”
You’ve gotten to travel to some pretty cool countries to perform. What has that experience been like for you?
“Music is a language everyone can understand. I think that’s what I love most about. I just went to South Africa to perform, and I’ve enjoyed playing in Australia, Brazil and Japan. I’m always amazed by some of the cultural differences. For example, when I was in Japan, I didn’t know it’s rude to show emotion during concerts. This was confusing for me at first, but then when I learned it’s part of the culture, I said ‘OK, cool!’”
What advice do you have for other kids who may have a dream of pursuing music?
“If you really want to play piano or any other instrument, you have to work hard for it. Following your dream is never easy, but no matter what your dream is in life, you cannot stop following it.”
For more on Ethan Bortnick, check out Ethanbortnick.com.