NEW YORK, NY -- On Oct. 17, esteemed jazz musician Matthew Whitaker took the stage at Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space to perform in a benefit concert for FMDG Music School.
The FMDG Music School is dedicated to helping people of all ages pursue their interest in music while addressing the unique challenges of vision loss. Whitaker performed alongside his quintet and students from the Music School, including drummer Mathew Vargas and vocal sextet The GuavaTones.
"The one thing I love about jazz is that you're able to be free and really musically just explore and just experiment," said Whitaker.
As an alumnus of FMDG, Whitaker, 22, has a strong personal connection to the school. Whitaker's career as a pianist, organist, drummer, keyboard player, and percussion player has had an extraordinary start.
"My relationship with FMDG started when I was 5 years old. I was the youngest to ever be a part of the program. Through the years, FMDG really gave me a strong foundation and really helped me to get where I am today," Whitaker recalled.
Whitaker has performed with renowned musicians such as Dr. Lonnie Smith, Christian McBride, Jon Batiste, Regina Carter, and Raul Midon.
"I'm grateful that I have a gift and that I'm able to share it with others and give back to the community," Whitaker said.
More of Whitaker's music can be heard on his current album, "Connections." He also will be releasing a new album in 2024, "On Their Shoulders, which is a tribute to his favorite organ players.
"To those who are visually impaired and wanting to go into the arts, always do what you love to do -- no matter if it's playing an instrument, or singing or dancing or production, stay true to yourself," said Whitaker.
More info on the FMDG Music School can be found here.