John Tesh stands out in our specialized world. The former host of Entertainment Tonight is a successful jack of numerous trades. Hes a composer, who has four gold albums, two Grammy nominations and has sold more than eight million records.
The laidback Tesh, who spent his childhood summers in North Carolina, has been the host of Intelligence For Your Life Radio Show, which has more than 14 million listeners each week. Tesh has covered the Olympic Games as a sportscaster and he has even won an Associated Press award for investigative journalism.
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I have my limitations, Tesh says in a call from New York. I just do what I love. Ive been fortunate to make a career out of it.
If Tesh, 60, had to pick one endeavor to focus on it would be music. The thing thats still most important to me is sitting behind a grand piano, Tesh says. Thats what makes me happiest.
Tesh will perform Saturday at the Carolina Theatre. When Tesh returns to Tar Heel country, hell survey the crowd when deciding what to perform.
I like playing the romantic songs, Tesh says. But Im co-dependent with the audience. If they have their arms wrapped around each other, Ill go in that direction. But if people are up and in the mood to dance, Ill throw out the ballads. I always look forward to going back to North Carolina to play. It reminds me of my childhood.
Both of Teshs parents grew up in Winston-Salem. However, his father moved to New York when Tesh was born and so he came of age in Long Island. However, Tesh spent every summer with his grandparents in Rural Hall.
My parents would go off and travel and send me down there and it was just fabulous, Tesh says I went from playing stickball on the streets (of Long Island) to a place that lived up to its name since it was so rural. I was taking care of chickens and picking corn. There was no electricity on the farm. I went to bed at sundown and got up when the sun was rising. It was wonderful. When I came back to New York, I was the only kid in my neighborhood who knew how to cure pork and shoot a shotgun.
Tesh studied communications and music at N.C State University. He was also part of the lacrosse and soccer teams. He obviously put his degree to use and his extracurricular activities had an impact on him as a journalist.
I always loved the smaller sports like lacrosse, bike racing and speed skating, Tesh says. I love music and sports.
Tesh was moved by basketball to compose the NBA on NBC theme, which is also known as Roundball Rock. The theme was also used by the network for basketball coverage during the 2008 summer Olympics.
But if Tesh had his druthers, the compositions take a back seat to his favorite style of music, the Great American Songbook.
Thats the stuff I really love to hear and to play, Tesh says. My dad brought home that music from World War II. Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington. Their music is difficult to play and sing but it keeps me on my toes. I find thats when Im at my best.