Whitaker: From Premature to Prodigy
Jersey native, Matthew Whitaker was born three months premature and later diagnosed with Retinopathy of Prematurity, which caused his blindness. With perfect pitch, he learned to play piano through listening and later became versed in Braille music during his musical education at The Harlem School of the Arts and Manhattan School of Music’s Pre-College Jazz program. At age 13, he became the youngest artist ever endorsed by Hammond, and at age 15, Whitaker was named a Yamaha Artist, becoming the youngest musician to join the stellar group of jazz pianists.
At just 17 years old, this gifted musician has achieved international acclaim for his awe-inspiring talent and performed across the world in impressive venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the renowned Apollo Theater where, at age 10, he opened for Stevie Wonder. In addition to his on-stage acts, Whitaker has charmed millions through televised performances on NBC’s “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and FOX’s “Showtime at the Apollo,” on which he won first place. A New Matthew Whitaker’s spectacular performance is one of the many that comprise Faena Theater’s Summer Jazz Series, an exciting five-month music event curated by GRAMMY nominated producer Rachel Faro and hosted by GRAMMY nominee Sammy Figueroa with support from WDNA 88.9FM Radio. Among the many talented performers are GRAMMY nominated songstress Jazzmeia Horn, award-winning jazz guitarist and vocalist Allan Harris and GRAMMY nominated jazz pianist Christian Sands.