Matthew Whitaker is Set to Release New Debut Album “Now Hear This” on Aug. 9th, 2019 | WATCH VIDEO!

18 Year Old Multi-Instrumentalist Matthew Whitaker
Set to Release Label Debut with Now Hear This

Available August 9 via Resilience Music Alliance

First Blind Undergraduate Student to
Join Juilliard’s Jazz Studies Program

UPDATE JULY 26th, 2019: LISTEN to New Single “Freedom Jazz Dance” below!

Though he’s still only 18 years old, multi-instrumentalist Matthew Whitaker has come a long way to get where he is today, overcoming adversity and dedicating countless hours to honing his craft. Now, with his declarative label debut Now Hear This, Whitaker announces himself as a major new voice on jazz piano, organ, and a wide range of keyboard instruments.

Due out August 9 via Resilience Music Alliance, Now Hear This teams Whitaker with a stellar all-star band featuring guitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Yunior Terry, drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., and percussionist Sammy Figueroa. Keyboard great Marc Cary and flutist Gabrielle Garo also make special guest appearances. The album was overseen by GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Brian Bacchus, who has worked closely with the likes of Gregory Porter, Norah Jones, Randy Weston and Sullivan Fortner, among others.


Watch Matthew Whitaker perform live on The Ellen DeGeneres Show!

But it’s Whitaker that commands the spotlight, evidencing a bold and confident sense of swing and a wide-ranging palette that spans straight-ahead jazz and hard bop to R&B and Latin influences. Supplementing his virtuoso piano skills with soulful Hammond organ and coloristic synthesizers, Whitaker leaves any “prodigy” stigma far behind on this stunner of an album.

Whitaker’s distinctive voice would be captivating under any circumstances, but the obstacles that he’s had to overcome in his young life make Now Hear This all the more breathtaking. He was born three months premature in 2001, weighing less than two pounds and able to fit in the palm of his father’s hand. The newborn was given less than a 50% chance of surviving; the oxygen that he was given by doctors allowed him to live but cost him his sight.

Blindness proved no obstacle to playing music, however, and Whitaker displayed preternatural talents from the first moment he touched a keyboard. That initial opportunity came at the age of 3, when Whitaker’s grandfather gifted him a small Yamaha keyboard. “I would come home from school and teach myself nursery rhymes,” Whitaker recalls. “No one showed me how, I just started playing. If I can hear it, I can play it.”

At 5 Whitaker began studying classical piano at the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School in New York City, the only community music school for the blind and visually impaired in the United States. He continues to work closely with the school; his heartfelt composition “Emotions” was written expressly for a performance there. “They’ve supported me since I was 5 and they continue to do that to this day,” Whitaker says.

As a blind African-American piano prodigy, comparisons to Stevie Wonder were inevitable. Meaningfully, Wonder himself gave the younger keyboard wizard his imprimatur when he invited Whitaker to open for him during his induction into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame. In 2016 Whitaker returned to that legendary stage, this time performing Wonder’s classic “I Wish” for FOX TV’s revival of Showtime at the Apollo.
But Whitaker never set out to be a Stevie Wonder clone, and while the soul icon is a definite influence Whitaker can rattle off a long list of indelible influences that leans heavily towards jazz giants like McCoy Tyner, Barry Harris, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. His gifts have been recognized by a number of jazz luminaries who have provided crucial mentorship, including Cary, Christian McBride, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Regina Carter, Jon Batiste, Roy Ayers and Jason Moran, among others.
His musical path was set at the age of 7 when his father dialed into a jazz station on the car radio one day. “Ever since then it’s been my favorite genre of music to play and listen to,” Whitaker says with obvious enthusiasm. “Unlike other styles of music where you play what’s on a sheet of paper or play just like a recording, with jazz you have the ability to be free with the music and improvise. You can really do you.”

Now Hear This is a perfect summation of Whitaker’s evolution to date. He’s enjoyed a remarkable career already, receiving the Harlem Stage Emerging Artist Award and the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award among other honors. His promise has only begun to be fulfilled, as he prepares to enter Juilliard as a freshman this fall as the first blind undergraduate student to join Juilliard’s Jazz Study program.

“This album is the next level for me,” Whitaker concludes. “I’m really happy and excited and hope people enjoy it.”

Matthew Whitaker · Now Hear This
Resilience Music Alliance · Release Date: August 9, 2019

For more information on Matthew Whitaker, please visit: MatthewWhitaker.net

For more information on Resilience Music Alliance,
please visit: www.ResilienceMusic.com

DL Media

MORE on The Youth Spot!:

The 39th Annual Music In Our Schools Month®: "I See ME in Music Education"
The 10th Annual Teach Music Week | March 18th-24th, 2024
Holiday EP "An Afro Unicorn Holiday Deluxe" is Avail NOW! LISTEN to New Single "Magical Gift" feat. ...
Award-Winning Children’s Performer and Musician Megan Piphus Releases May & Them Pups New Album "Spa...
The 8th Annual Kids Music Day | Oct. 6th, 2023
Registration Now Open for NJPAC’s TD JAZZ FOR TEENS Education Program
Singer Emika Love Releases New Single "Bad Day Not Life" | LISTEN!
Canadian Pop Singer Simone Miller Releases New Single "Turning" | LISTEN!
Jazz for Teens Celebrates 25th Anniversary Season
The 7th Annual Kids Music Day | October 7th, 2022
The D’Addario Foundation Launches New Initiative "The Immersive Music Challenge"
Canadian Singer Neela Releases New Single "Exposed" | LISTEN!
Singer Armani Jackson to Release New Single "Roll With Us" on July 28th, 2022 | LISTEN!
10 Year Old Piano Prodigy Abigail Huang Releases Debut Album “Chick Corea’s Children’s Songs”
Up-and-Coming Pop/R&B Girl Group MAKO Girls Releases New Music Video for "Ain't Thinkin' Bout You" |...
Canadian R&B Singer Simone Miller Releases New Single "Older" | WATCH NEW VIDEO!
Multi-Instrumental Teen Group J3 Releases New Album "Opus 1" | WATCH NEW VIDEO!
Pop/R&B Singer JADE Releases New Single "Lucky Stars" - WATCH NEW VIDEO! New EP "Contact" Arrives on...
R&B/Pop Artist Amaya Santos Releases New Single "Carousel" | LISTEN!
The ConSoulTant to Release New Holiday Single "Up on the Housetop"
British Singer Grace Carter Releases New Single "Dark Matter" | WATCH NEW VIDEO!
R&B Singer Tiana Kocher Releases New Single "Blue N' Green" | LISTEN!
R&B Singer Taylor McCants Releases New Single "Boyfriend" | LISTEN!
Bassist Victor Wooten Signs on as Spokesperson for the 6th Annual Kids Music Day - Oct. 1st, 2021
2021 American Idol Contestants Ammon & Liahona Olayan Release New Music Video for Single "Make Me Fo...
Rising Singer Señoj Drops New Video for Single "Lost" | WATCH!
Singer Tiana Kocher Releases New Single "Same Lame" feat. T-Boz from TLC | LISTEN!
NEW VOICES! Canadian Artist Stefanie Parnell Releases New Single "If I Leave" | WATCH NEW VIDEO!
Rising Singer Miya Guggs Releases New Track "Situationships" | LISTEN!
Singer Kelontae Gavin's “Hold Me Close” Hits #1 on Both Billboard Gospel Airplay & Mediabase Gospel ...
New Singer Shardella Sessions Releases New Single "Everything" | LISTEN!
9-Year-Old BMI Executive Producer & Recording Artist Nicholas Buamah to Release New Project "On the ...
NEW VOICES! R&B Singer Kristina Murrell to Release New Single "Got Me Dreaming" on Jan. 29th, 2021 |...
13 Year Old Musician Justin Lee Schultz Releases Cover of "Do I Do" | WATCH NEW VIDEO!
Pop/R&B Singer Tiana Kocher Releases New Single "Dive" | LISTEN!
Shanachie Entertainment Signs 13 Year Old Whiz Kid Justin Lee Schultz | New CD Drops in Nov. 2020 | ...
Hide