Paul Cardall is an internationally acclaimed pianist whose most recent album, New Life, debuted at number one on the Billboard chart in 2011. He is currently working on a new album titled Saving Tiny Hearts that will debut November 11th, 2014.
Having survived with the odds against him, Paul says, “You only live twice,” this after he had to have a heart transplant. Today Paul says music is what got him through a long year and half of waiting and wondering if he was going to survive. This week, Shauna Lake sits down with Paul Cardall “Person 2 Person.”
SHAUNA LAKE: Let’s start with the music. What are you working on?
PAUL CARDALL: Well I have a lot going on with music. I built a studio here in Salt Lake City. It’s the premiere Steinway & Son’s studio. I was invited by Steinway to become a Steinway artist.
SHAUNA LAKE: What does that mean exactly?
PAUL CARDALL: Well it’s huge because there are only 1600 pianists that have, since the beginning of time, that have been asked to be Steinway artists. Everybody from George Gershwin to Rock Maninoff to today you have Billy Joel, Harry Connick Jr., and they just asked me to be an artist so I’m…I’m overwhelmed and thrilled and excited.
SHAUNA LAKE: I was so interested when I was reading about you that you played when you were a little kid and just kind of lost interest and, “Oh I don’t really want to play.”
PAUL CARDALL: I think most kids take piano lessons and they either love it or they hate it. As for me and my large family, there were eight kids and there wasn’t a lot of pressure to play. So I quit. I couldn’t…I couldn’t…I didn’t even like it, but I loved music. But the gift didn’t really come until I was a teenager after the passing of a friend and I went into the piano in my parents living room and there I discovered I could play by ear and the music and the melody that came to me seemed to just give me the comfort and the peace I needed so playing the piano became a regular thing. It was an addiction. I was doing it three hours a day because it made me feel so much peace and comfort and then when I was asked to play for somebody that gave me even more motivation. That’s the beginning of, “Oh maybe this is something I could do.”
SHAUNA LAKE: You talked about your big family, you talked about the death of a friend, and I know more recently you had a tragic death of your brother also.
PAUL CARDALL: Yeah.
SHAUNA LAKE: Did music help you in that situation also?
PAUL CARDALL: It did. Brian was a…when he was not doing his field research he was playing the guitar and so he used to sit and play for me. In fact after he passed I kind of stole one of the melodies that he had created and turned that into a piece of music that I put on my album “New Life.” So his legacy of what he created continued on and the melody spoke such comfort and peace to me.
SHAUNA LAKE: What stage of your life you were in when you wrote it?
PAUL CARDALL: Well the most recent album was “New Life.” I had just had a heart transplant and so all the emotions associated with, “Was I going to survive because I was waiting for a donor heart?” So there was this moment of, “How do I capture all those feelings?” And then the miracle came. I got a heart transplant and then I had to come up with an album that really defined that moment and it took me a year and a half later to have that album. But that album is the one that seemed to have the most impact on people all over the world that were going through similar things. Maybe not a necessarily a heart transplant but we all have our different challenges; and that particular album seemed to resonate with people and I think that’s why it was a number one record.
SHAUNA LAKE: What was happening to your heart in that time?
PAUL CARDALL: The heart…well I was born with only half a heart.
SHAUNA LAKE: Right.
PAUL CARDALL: So the heart was really damaged from previous surgeries, and it had enlarged and they just needed to remove it. I remember going into surgery, the surgery room and I saw all the pieces of equipment and to me it was like an orchestra. There were all these different parts and elements and the surgeon was going to perform this magnificent piece of work, exactly, and he did. He pulled it off.
SHAUNA LAKE: Tell me about your family.
PAUL CARDALL: Mostly my number one fan and person who I love the most is my wife who manages me and keeps me organized. And I just…I think all of my success in the future will be because of her support and love. I really can’t do it without who I’m married to. I’ve been given this second chance in life and to do it without here…I wouldn’t want to do it at all.
SHAUNA LAKE: What does it mean, especially at a young age, to be given the gift of almost your life to live all over again?
PAUL CARDALL: I say we only live twice. You know maybe three times if there’s another heart, but being given a second chance in the beginning is kind of a little rough because you did pack your bags and you did think maybe this is it. But you fought…you fought like crazy to survive and then once you survive you kind of get into this little slump of, “What do I do now?” But then it gets better and better and better and having that second chance you realize everything that you’ve…this is so beautiful in this life. And everything that is so worth living for.
SHAUNA LAKE: Paul it’s been so nice to get to know you better Person 2 Person.
PAUL CARDALL: Thank you Shauna.
SHAUNA LAKE: Thank you so much for your time.
PAUL CARDALL: Yeah my pleasure.
SHAUNA LAKE: Appreciate it.
-Written and produced by Leslie Tillotson (watch the interview)
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)