Matt Whitaker - A Piano Prodigy
New Jersey has a new 'world wonder' – and his nickname is ‘Little Stevie Wonder. ‘ One young boy from Hackensack, New Jersey has the gift of performing and composing music, here in the United States and abroad. He has captured the eyes and ears of many … although he would not be able to see it.
Meet Matt Whitaker…. He is just 16 years old and already a music sensation. For the last two years, he’s been the main organist for his church in Hackensack and he has toured Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Matt describes his future goals to become "a music director and producer and just be an artist and write my own compositions." So that said, he was destined to the in the music industry.
Matt's father, Moses Whitaker says that he "loves to hear Matt when he comes home. He just sits down and plays for us and it allows us to just listen to him and take our mind off everything that’s going on in the world."
At Age 13, Matt became the youngest artist to be endorsed by Hammond USA in its 80-plus year history; and at 15 years old, he was endorsed as a "Yamaha Piano Artist" which made him the youngest musician to join their group of jazz pianists. What I find to be the most incredible talent of all, is that Matt taught himself how to play the piano, all from memory.
Then, Matt showed me the steps he took to learn to play without ever seeing where he places his fingers.
Stevie Wonder, another musician who has not let blindness get in the way of his talent. He and Stevie Wonder play the same instruments — including harmonica, which Matthew received for Christmas and has already managed to teach himself to how play.
"Stevie, he’s just amazing, he plays so many different instruments and his voice, is amazing too. I have opened for him at the Apollo Theatre one time. He was being inducted to the Hall of Fame and I opened for him. Then he gave me one of my first harmonicas. But my dream is to play with him one day, because I never played with him, I opened for him."
You may have seen Matt on the Ellen DeGeneres show, performing at the Apollo Theatre or other community events in his neighborhood. However, he spends most of his free time right in his studio basement.
He told Ellen, “I was born 23 weeks prematurely. I was 1 lb. 11 oz., and had less than 75% chance of surviving and the oxygen that was keeping me alive damaged my eyes.”
Matt described his experience on the Ellen show to me. “It was a few weeks after my birthday, it was very special because Ellen, shes just amazing. She loves to help and inspire people, and I love to do the same thing. She gave me a vibraphone, it’s sitting over there. You play it with mallets, and the sound of it is really amazing. I love the sound of it, its really different from other instruments.”
The truth be told, the world can learn a lesson from Matt.
Moses Whitaker, Matthew’s father says " that Matt doesn’t see the world as we see it. For him, he believes everyone is happy, he believes that there’s nothing but joy in the world. So, we never see him get mad about anything. Also he always tries to make people happy, so whatever it takes to do that, he’ll do that. If it’s just playing music or talking to you or patting you on the back, if its just saying hello, he’ll do that.”
You too, can listen to Matt play, in your own home.. His first CD just debuted earlier this year.
“This came out in march of this year, it has 6 of my own songs and 4 arrangements of songs I have done… You can find this on Apple, Spotify, my website matthewwhitaker.com”
This past January, Matt was noted to be one of the Top People to Watch in New Jersey by the Bergen Record. You will recognize him as the boy with the infectious smile and rhythm in his feet.
For the full story that aired on 'Jersey Matters' check out this link: