Hometown Hero: Eric Wortham

By Bobbi Booker | Photos Provided by Musician

Eric Wortham II was fascinated with music at an early age. As the son of a preacher, Wortham initially participated in the youth choir, with a desire to play drums before finding his voice with the piano.

“Naturally, most musicians start off being drawn to the drums because it’s the easiest way to express musical ideas, because every aspect of musicality has a percussive nature,” said Wortham.

By the time he entered the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) he’d discovered his passion for jazz and was especially informed by Chick Corea’s work. As Wortham’s innovative and soulful technique was honed, he started collaborating with other Philly-based musicians such as Vivian Green, Kindred The Family Soul, Music SoulChild, Bilil, Jeff Bradshaw, Laurin Talese, and the Grammy award-winning Jill Scott.

Wortham’s reputation as a gifted pianist introduced him to a global audience, where he earlier accompanied pop singer Adele on her global tour and is currently touring with singer and songwriter Seal. He has graced the stages of the Grammy Awards, the NAACP Image Awards, the Marian Anderson Awards, and has performed on The View, Good Morning America, Live! with Kelly and Michael, The Ellen Show, The Jimmy Kimmel Show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Saturday Night Live.

When he is not captivating audiences around the globe, the piano virtuoso gives back to the music community by encouraging up and coming artists to explore beyond perceived limitations.

“You got to follow your internal voice,” Eric advised. “Be an individual and follow your path as its laid out to you. Just be creative and create.”

“You got to follow your internal voice,” Eric advised. “Be an individual and follow your path as its laid out to you. Just be creative and create.”

He recalled his Philly roots and how the region’s venerable jazz venues once served as his training ground.

“When I got on the big stage, it felt like a small stage because I’ve done it so many times and it felt like playing in my living room. The beauty of having these places is to get the chance to really hone your skills — and we need a place to really hone in our skills. We’re performers, so we need performance spaces, and not rehearsal spaces.”

Wortham added, “Philadelphia is that space—and always has been.”

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