The sound of classical piano music Bruce Lowe heard through the basement walls of his Beechcreek Road residence planted the seeds for a career that would one day lead the Whitehall-Yearling High School graduate to produce music for Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Lowe, 64, is a 1972 graduate of WYHS whose love of music began about the age of 5, as he eavesdropped on his older sister's piano lessons, then tried to re-create what he'd heard.
Lowe, who lives in southern California, was among the three new members inducted into the Whitehall-Yearling High School Hall of Fame during halftime of the Whitehall-Yearling boys varsity basketball game Feb. 16 at the school.
Marty Bannister, a sports broadcaster who graduated in 1980, and Spencer Salyers, a Whitehall police officer who graduated in 1983, also were inducted.
The trio was selected from a group of "numerous, well-deserving nominees," said Ty Debevoise, director of marketing and communications for Whitehall schools.
The school's Hall of Fame, established in 1990, grows from 78 members to 81 with the induction of Bannister, Lowe and Salyers.
Music and family always have been at the center of Lowe's life -- and it's a passion he said he wants to pass on to others, both through his own words and via the nonprofit organization he founded, the Music Has Healing Power Foundation.
"I've always been intrigued by the sounds we can hear, the sounds we can't hear and the reaction of humans, animals and even plants to these sounds," said Lowe, who was invited to attend the Berklee College of Music in Newton, Massachusetts, at the request of Robert Moog and Alan Pearlman while a student at Ohio State University. He graduated from OSU in 1977.
Moog founded Moog Music and is credited as the inventor of the first commercial synthesizer, the Moog synthesizer. Pearlman founded ARP Instruments, an early leading manufacturer of synthesizers.
While the music Lowe has created earned him five Grammy Awards for recordings produced with the late gospel vocalist Andrae Crouch, Lowe hopes it's another sound that can help people truly heal.
The Music Has Healing Power Foundation's mission is to make music accessible to all and to provide a better life through music, instruments, education, passion and love, Lowe said.
Music has been proven to improve the condition of patients with dementia, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, Lowe said, as well as to relieve stress and improve moods.
The organization also reaches out to victims of natural disasters in a similar fashion.
A higher purpose
But Lowe said another kind of music and sound waves can do much more.
Through the organization he founded in 2017, Lowe also is raising awareness among medical professionals that sound waves inaudible to the human ear have the ability to heal in ways that brings a new light to researchers working on cancer medicines.
"My dream now is to convince the medical community as well as colleges and universities" to combine medicine and sound engineering in treating cancer, Lowe said.
Some studies have shown that sound waves between 100,000 and 300,000 hertz can destroy certain kinds of cancer cells, Lowe said, likening the act of certain operatic sounds and vibrations that shatter glass.
If developed to be successful in greater instances, it could become a viable alternative to chemotherapy, Lowe said, adding there has been success at the University of Southern California and Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, which have explored the concept.
Lowe's inspiration is deep-seated; his wife, Lisa, was successfully treated for cancer. While visiting her in 2009, he and his family met a boy named Mario who, on the last day of his life, after they had bonded through music, asked to see Lowe and his family.
"That affected me more than I can say (and) inspired me" to create the foundation, Lowe said.
Lowe's efforts are buoyed by a network of musicians he has had the opportunity to meet since he first worked with Stevie Wonder to contribute to his 1979 album, "Journey Through 'The Secret Life of Plants,' " a soundtrack for a documentary and book of the same name.
The soundtrack was the first commercial recording to use a digital sampling synthesizer, for which Lowe was recruited to perform, he said.
"Stevie's people called me," Lowe said, after learning of his pioneering work to convert analog sounds into digital sounds, to devise a way to make computers "talk" and to use music and vibration for human healing.
Lowe moved to Los Angeles in 1977 to work with Wonder.
Lowe's contribution to the soundtrack included such impromptu work as recording the sound of a dripping faucet and creating a digital sound from it used as the rhythm for a composition.
Lowe's work with Wonder led to his collaboration with Crouch, and that Grammy Award-winning partnership led in turn to professional collaborations with other stars who desired a gospel tinge to a particular composition, such as Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror," Madonna's "Like A Prayer" and contributions to the scores of the films "The Color Purple" and "The Lion King."
"During our sessions, Madonna always made me sit next to her so we could exchange ideas including recording techniques for the choir," Lowe said.
Lowe's work with Wonder included the duet, "Ebony and Ivory," that appeared on Paul McCartney's album, "Tug of War."
Lowe said he became friends with the former Beatle and said they are working on a feature film, "That'll Be the Day," featuring the music of Buddy Holly, for which Lowe is producing and arranging the music as well as contributing original compositions.
Lowe's first step into TV was working with Robin Williams on the set of "Mork and Mindy," and more work followed. Today, Lowe is under contract with Warner Brothers, producing music for WB's programs such as "Extra," "Crime Watch," "TMZ," "Dr. Drew" and "The Lopez Show."
He also is working on his second album of his own music, a follow-up to his first recording, "Seven Arrows," and he continues to operate his own company, Cinema Show Music.
Though Lowe could not attend last week's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, he said he plans to visit students at Whitehall-Yearling in the near future to inspire students to achieve.
"No matter what adversities you are facing, know you can overcome these temporary circumstances and achieve greatness," said Lowe, which for him included being ousted from his high school band, the Cellmates.
"I was mad at first, but looking back, it was a turning point in my life because I began concentrating even more on keyboards," Lowe said.
To learn more about Lowe's foundation, visit www.musichashealingpower.org or www.brucelowe.com.