Matthew Whitaker: 18-year-old blind Jazz pianist and musical prodigy will play your requests on social media
He has been wowing crowds with his musical abilities since he was 11 and he will now hold a special concert on February 24 to perform songs on request
Jazz musician Matthew Whitaker is making waves. The young musician has been wowing crowds with his musical abilities since he was 11 years old. More recently, he was seen jamming alongside singer and pianist Davell Crawford at New Orleans Jazz Fest. But what is really blowing people away is his ability to instantly know how to play a piece that he just heard.
Whitaker is now connecting with music listeners on a much personal level. He will hold a special concert on February 24 performing songs requested by 60 Minutes viewers.
Whitaker was born with retinopathy of prematurity, which led to his blindness. As a baby he barely crawled because he could not see. His parents had to use toys that made sound so that Whitaker would crawl towards them. In fact, doctors even said that he may never walk. However, Whitaker defied expectations when one day, he crawled his way over to a speaker to feel the music. It didn't take long for his family to recognize he was a special, gifted young boy.
When he plays, the 18-year-old prodigy goes bare feet so that he can feel the pedals on his piano better. He can be seen often turning his head so that he can feel the crowd. Meanwhile, the genius can be seen navigating his way through some of the most complex piano pieces in existence. But even when he is not on stage, Whitaker displays remarkable skill and musicality. He can name a song from afar within the first few notes even while standing in a massive crowd of screaming concert-goers.
His teacher Dalia Sakas, a classically-trained concert pianist, calls her student's skills 'insane' and that is no exaggeration. Whitaker's skills are so good that researchers are clamouring to study him.
Neuroscientists who have had a chance to work with Whitaker have noticed that despite his visual impairment, the musician's visual cortex "goes into overdrive when he plays".
And now, we get to be a part of the process as a musical genius creates magic.
Whitaker will be taking requests on February 24 at 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT and playing them for us via a Twitter and Instagram live broadcast for 60 Minutes. Have a tune you want played? Get on Twitter and use the hashtag #PlayThisSong60 and maybe Whitaker will take on your song request.