Amateur Night at the Apollo, May 9, 2012. When New Jersey native, Matthew Whitaker was three years old, he was given a small Yamaha keyboard. He immediately started banging on it a few times. To his parent’s amazement, Matthew was playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” without anyone showing him how to do it. From that moment, music became a central part of Matthew's life.
At the age of five, Matthew was one of the youngest children to enroll in a music program at a New York school for the blind and visually impaired. He studies classical piano, drums, bass guitar, percussion instruments and music technology. He is also learning to read sheet music in Braille. Matthew is a member of the school's jazz band and is mentored by the legendary pianist Barry Harris.
Matthew gravitates toward melodies, especially jazz, and considers the Hammond B3 organ his favorite instrument. Matthew was a winning participant in the 2010 Amateur Night at the Apollo children’s segment where he played the song “Killer Joe” on the portable Hammond organ and was invited back to participate in the Apollo holiday show Stars of Tomorrow: The Best of the Best".
His artistic influences are composers/musicians Dr Lonnie Smith, Jimmy Smith, Charles Earland, Jimmy McGriff, Johnny Hammond Smith, Vince Seneri, (B3 musicians), Stevie Wonder, Chopin, Bach, and drummers Otis Brown III, Otis Brown Jr and Roy Haynes. Matthew hopes to one day walk in their footsteps. Visit matthewwhitaker.net for more information.