Welcome to the OFFICIAL Bill Ward website!
“Bill Ward’s got chops!”
No doubt about it, everything he plays and sings and writes and produces is so beautiful because it comes out of his lifelong love affair with music. He was born into it. Bill’s mother Marguerite and his two aunts were called the Davis Sisters, a sweet harmony singing trio from the Thirties who recorded for Columbia Records and were quite well known throughout the South, playing for WIOD out of Miami. So when listeners hear Bill’s blues-inflected baritone, his crystal-clear enunciation, his vocal command and his love of soaring harmonies, he’s proud to credit both his genes and his mother’s instruction to sing from the heart.
Bill Ward never set out to defy musical categories. “I just love all kinds of music,” he says, shrugging at the labels that critics and industry-insiders have put on his unique sound, “country, gospel, opera, classical, jazz, blues, you name it. That’s how I grew up.” Leaving a classical career on French horn in favor of composing and conducting, Bill plays just about every instrument in the orchestra. “I still want to learn violin,” he said on his forty-seventh birthday. He started out at age five on piano and guitar, instruments he still plays at most shows, but expanded to French horn in high school, trumpet in a marching band and later the organ as choir director.
All the while, he was writing songs as well. His “Something for the Children,” for example, was selected as the theme song for the March of Dimes in 1978. After college, he began to tour. Bill Ward & Making Waves headlined all over Florida playing dance music with a seven-piece band that featured Stan Kenton’s first trumpet. “We played covers, but my band was so tight. No one was using trombone in those years, and my guys were all so talented that writing arrangements for them was so much fun,” he said, looking back.
A veteran of the hard traveling touring circuit, Bill began composing larger scores. His “David and Goliath,” a musical he wrote for performance on the beach, is still well remembered by many a citizen of Panama City. This experience led to commissions for film soundtracks and music production ventures at his studio in Houston, Texas, but as he puts it, “Writing my own lyrics and singing my own songs remains my first love musically.”
1991 saw the release of his first CD,” William is our Name”. In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of pop radio, the CD still enjoys airplay in the U.S., Canada, Russia, Ireland and The Netherlands. You can hear him on Willie Nelson’s “Outlaw for Peace” show, which airs worldwide on Radio for Peace International.
His most recent CD, “Skyline”, shows a musical maturity unsurpassed among his peers. New York music critic Kirpal Gordon called it, “the real McCoy! And on eleven songs that just don’t quit but build and bridge and return a profound sense of hope born of a willingness to witness the hardest truths about ourselves. My money says two-to-one they will still be heard, these songs of our common plight and possibility, after the corn-pone fascists, hair-do disasters and masters of the demographic hustle who have taken over Nashville are long gone.” Hill Country music critic Kathleen Hudson, author of Telling Stories, Writing Songs (UT Press), wrote, “No one has a voice as seductive as Bill Ward, but Skyline is more than just a great singer’s showcase. It’s the blend of voice, hard won lyrics, incredible instrumental skills and masterful arrangements that keep these songs in your head long after the CD stops playing.”
Perhaps Austin critic Cathy Franklin said it best in her review, which comments on his forty-year career as a performer.
“Unlike most of the acts at South by Southwest, Bill Ward is no overnight, one-hit, MTV flavor-of-the-minute. Let’s put it this way: if music were food, Bill Ward’s songs would be a banquet.
...Welcome to the feast.”