“Jazz is my favorite
kind of music.
I just like the way
Photo: Isabel Delfourne
ourteen year-old musician Matthew Whitaker describes creativity as “making
something that comes from the heart.” When his fingers fly across a
keyboard, there is no doubt about the source of this young man’s gift. With a
radiant smile and an infectious energy, he is anxious to share the joy of the
music he creates. But Matthew isn’t just playing music. He is the music.
When Matthew Whitaker was three years old, his grandfather gave him a Yamaha
keyboard. When he heard Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, he played the song on the
keyboard after figuring out on his own which notes to play. What was even more
amazing was that Matthew, who was born nearly three months premature and who
weighed just under two pounds, was given only a 50 percent chance to live. “We really
didn’t know what kind of life he would have,” said May Whitaker, Matthew’s mother.
In the first years of his life, Matthew didn’t say a word. He communicated with his
mother using tactile sign language, learning his family’s faces by touching them. He also
has never been able to see. His parents found out after he was born that he had
retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that can cause blindness in babies born