The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress, has kicked off its 90th anniversary celebration with a free virtual concert by jazz pianist Matthew Whitaker. The performance is now available at https://youtu.be/4X5NhVwLzM4 and can also be streamed on the Library’s YouTube page.
Whitaker performs many of his own compositions, including “A New Day,” “Emotions,” and “Miss Michelle,” as well as some covers from Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, and Stevie Wonder. This outstanding concert also features Marcos Robinson (guitar), Karim Hutton (bass), and Isaiah Johnson (drums).
Blind since infancy, Whitaker has been a patron of the NLS Music Section since the age of 13. He studied classical piano and drums at the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg (FMDG) Music School in New York City, and learned to read braille music. He attended the Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege Jazz Program and is currently a second-year student in the jazz studies program at Juilliard in New York City, studying with jazz composer/pianist Frank Kimbrough.
Whitaker won the ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards for 2019 and 2020 and has been featured on stages around the world and on TV shows including Ellen and NBC’s Today. In a story on the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes neuroscientists discussed how Whitaker’s brain is stimulated by music—so much so that his visual cortex lights up when he plays.
This special 90th Anniversary Celebration of NLS is off to a rousing start! Please enjoy this wonderful performance by Matthew Whitaker and his band, and take time to check out his interview with our own Karen Keninger.