At the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the audience is taken back to the desperate cries of the ship’s passengers as the ensemble performs “My Heart Will Go On,” while a pianist tells the story of the tragic night, captivates the crowd with a ragtime tune and finishes with the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”
As the ensemble takes its final bow, you wouldn’t notice that the pianist is blind until his cane leads him down the steps of the stage.
Joshua McInnish is a 2019 graduate of Troy University’s Music Industry Program.
McInnish developed his love for music at an early age when he and his grandmother would sing together. He was also a part of Kindermusik, an early childhood music education program.
“It was based on my love of music that came when I was a child,” McInnish said. “I had a lot of help from the teachers that taught me, from learning to play by ear to memorizing it.”
McInnish decided to explore his love for music at Troy University after hearing about the Music Industry program and thinking, “Wow, I want to do that.”
The Music Industry program at TROY is spearheaded by coordinator Robert Smith, and includes students who want to teach music and students who want to further their career within the music industry.
“Our students are going to be in three areas,” Smith said. “You have the audio engineers and producers, the people who want to go into the business side and in the middle fall the creatives and artists. Josh is one of those people who falls in the middle. You just give him some chords and a groove, and he’ll do something with it.”
McInnish was the keyboardist for TROY’s music ensemble POPulus. The group led to him interning for Smith’s production company, RWS Music Company, where McInnish would write scores for companies like Universal Studios.
2020 has been a difficult year for individuals within the music industry, but upon graduation, McInnish showed interest in the Titanic Museum Attraction.
“When Mom had brought that up as an interest, I was definitely all in for it,” McInnish said. “The rest is history. I had gotten an interview during vacation and the next day I was offered the job.”
At the museum, McInnish’s role is to tell the story of the Titanic while incorporating the piano into his performance.
“Josh does a speech about the band players,” Cynthia Simpson, general manager of the museum, said. “His role as a cast member is to tell stories.
“He incorporates (the piano) into his speech and will play music during that time era.”
Simpson says McInnish has been an extraordinary addition to the team and brings light into the museum and the cast.
“He brings so much enthusiasm to the ship,” Simpson said. “He meets every challenge head on and isn’t afraid to take the lead. He’s very personable and brings so much joy to the cast.”
Despite the challenges he’s faced, McInnish doesn’t allow his disability to hinder his talents and passion for music.
“Robert told me that in order to succeed, you have to fail at some things,” McInnish concluded. “Find out what’s your strong point and what isn’t. No matter what disability or challenge that I have, I don’t let it stop me because I can do anything I set my mind to.”