Kantor grew up in Athens, Georgia, where he began taking piano lessons at age "four or five," and developed an early interest in baseball through following the Atlanta Braves. He moved to the Chicago area when he was thirteen, and soon discovered Nancy Faust, the renowned organist for the Chicago White Sox. Kantor has repeatedly cited Faust as a major influence in his musical development as an organist.
Kantor continued to play music through high school and college. He attended Brandeis University, where he honed his improvisation skills playing piano with a campus sketch comedy group. After college, he remained in the Boston area and began to focus seriously on playing the organ, performing with local bands and comedy groups while supporting himself by working in libraries at Boston University and Harvard Law School.
Boston Red Sox
When the Red Sox were looking for a new organist in 2003, Kantor was able to get an audition through the help of a friend who was working for the team. After two auditions in which he was asked to play a variety of popular songs and asked to improvise based on specific situations within a baseball game, he was hired. As of 2015, Kantor had not missed a single home game in twelve years.
During Red Sox home games at Fenway Park, Kantor plays organ music before and after games, mixing traditional favorites with current popular songs. During the ballgame, organ and recorded music alternate. Kantor works closely with TJ Connelly, the DJ for the Red Sox. Kantor takes requests from fans via his Twitter account (@jtkantor) and often plays songs suggested during the game by fans at the ballpark.
Bands and Other Performances
In addition to his work with the Red Sox, Kantor plays regularly with Jim's Big Ego, a Boston-based rock band; The Split Squad, a so-called "super group" featuring former members of Blondie and The Fleshtones; and The Baseball Project, which writes and plays songs about baseball. Kantor's high-profile job with the Red Sox has led to other notable performances including a program of ballpark music at Boston's Symphony Hall after the Red Sox's 2004 World Series championship; appearances on ESPN's SportsCenter, where he has played background music on the opening day of the baseball season for several years; and at the Todos Santos Music Festival, a multi-day arts and music festival founded by REM guitarist Peter Buck, at which Kantor plays keyboards and accordion in support of a variety of bands.
- "Interview: Josh Kantor (Red Sox Organist)". Allston Pudding. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- "The Red Sox's Hidden Player: Organist Josh Kantor". radioboston.wbur.org. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- "Fenway Player Swings for the Bleachers". Brandeis Magazine. Summer 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- "Harvard Portrait: Josh Kantor". Harvard Magazine. September 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "From the Harvard Library to Fenway, Red Sox Organist Says He's Ready for Opener". The Harvard Crimson. April 4, 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- "9 Reasons Why You Should Step Up to the Plate With the Baseball Project". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "You Monsters Made Fenway Park's Organist Play Way Too Many Dumb Songs This Year". Noisey. 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
- "From the Desk of Josh Kantor: Ridiculous Things That Happen to Me". Magnet: Real Music Alternatives. Retrieved 26 January 2015.