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EFE News Service

Star Yankees Outfielder Bernie Williams Trades Bat For Guitar

By Ruth E. Hernandez Beltran

November 6, 2003
Copyright ©2003
EFE News Service. All rights reserved.

New York, Nov 5 (EFE).-With the World Series over, star Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams has laid down his bat and glove and picked up his guitar to present another side of himself, that of musician.

"The Journey Within" is the name of the album the Puerto Rican athlete released on July 15, an endeavor which took by surprise a public unaware of this facet of his personality.

The contemporary instrumental album displays Williams' ability as a guitar player and composer, as seven of the songs were written by him.

Williams, who made his debut with the Yankees in 1991, and already has 13 seasons behind him and a lifetime batting average of .305, refuses to classify his works exclusively as jazz.

"It has a jazz influence, but I would describe it as popular instrumental music with jazz, Latin and Brazilian overtones," he said in an interview with EFE, holding his guitar.

"For Don Berna," dedicated to his father who passed away more than two years ago, "Just Because," inspired by his wife and "Bernie Jr.," which he wrote for his son, are some of the songs in his album which give listeners a glimpse into a Bernie Williams beyond the baseball field.

"I show them another side of my personality. I give them a glimpse through the window of my feelings, of my soul, a chance to experience what I felt" when he wrote the songs, said the soft-spoken Williams.

"I'm not good with words," he laughs, admitting that being in front of a microphone makes him very nervous, even though he should already be used to it.

"But, for some reason, I feel more at ease when I hold my guitar and I have a chance to express my feelings, what music makes me feel. I can voice my feelings better through music than through words," he said.

Williams has been composing music for years. He had many ideas in his head, but never thought he could put them in an album. Then a year ago he was offered the chance to record the songs, he said, and found it the best way to organize his ideas.

The player, who has won four consecutive Golden Glove awards as an outfielder, had some experience playing with other musicians, so recording was not a major problem.

His greatest concern "was to perform at the level of the

professional musicians hired by producer Loren Harriet."

"They are masters and I am an outfielder. No matter how much I want to be a musician, I am still an outfielder," he laughed, adding: "For me, this was an interesting challenge."

The musicians he recorded with included pianist David Benoit; Bela Fleck, the mandolin of The Flecktones; and salsa stars Ruben Blades and Gilberto Santa Rosa.

It was William's father, a sailor, who first exposed him to music. He brought his first guitar from Spain and would play it in the evening for his son. "I would ask him about the strings, and about what chords he would use in that song," the outfielder recalled.

When was 13, he studied at Puerto Rico's Escuela Libre de Musica (Free School of Music) on a scholarship and at the same time, he continued to play baseball, even though his parents wanted him to go to college.

But then he got the chance to join the Big Leagues, he could not pass it up, even though music was still in his mind.

Williams performed on July 13 in Chicago to launch "The Journey Within," and now that the World Series is over, he plans to perform in a second concert in Puerto Rico at the end of January. But he admits he feels more comfortable on the playing field than on the stage.

"I am not ready yet," he told EFE.

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