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Legendary pianist to lend talent to event

After performing with the likes of Tina Turner and Jose Feliciano, touring throughout Europe, Asia and South America, and headlining for several cruise lines, pianist Greg Watson is stepping away from the limelight to share his talent with a different audience.

This year marks Watson’s debut as part of the Secret Garden Tour lineup of musicians. The entertainer said he is excited about becoming part of San Diego’s culture scene.

Although classically trained, Watson describes his style as “Gershmaninoff.”

“My specialty is the music of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Rachmaninoff,” Waston said.

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At the age most children were learning their ABCs, Watson began studying piano in Columbus, Ohio. At age 17, he had been accepted by the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts and was performing works by Chopin, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Debussy.

By the mid-'70s, Watson had found success in the world of pop music. He worked with Ike and Tina Turner, appearing with them on the Mac Davis TV show before touring with Feliciano for three years.

Watson’s career has spanned live performances, including the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic opening ceremony and regular appearances with Japanese pop stars Mickey Curtis and Akira Fuse. He has been featured on television and was spotlighted in a one-hour solo in-studio PBS concert. His first major recording was released in 1982 and achieved national airplay.

For more than 10 years, Watson lived in Europe. During this time, he frequently entertained as a headline act aboard cruise ships, including Crystal Cruises.

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After a personal crisis, Watson found himself re-evaluating his life. With the support of the Salvation Army and friends, he began securing gigs around San Diego. One of his favorites is providing dinner music for the homeless who come through the Salvation Army every Monday through Thursday.

“I’ve done all the big stuff,” Watson said. “I’ve been with these big, big superstars, and I’ve been around the world. Especially at this stage of my life, I want nothing to do with that part of show business. This is very, very meaningful to me.”