It’s easy to get caught up in listening to different pieces of audio equipment and inadvertently putting the music itself in second place. But today’s Washington Post features a lengthy profile called “Grand Achievement.” It describes the musical journey of a young African-American junior at the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts in Washington and provides a potent reminder of the transformative power of music.
The junior’s name is Clifton Williams. His first teacher discovered him in church at the age of seven attempting to play the piano. She proceeded to teach him gospel music. His formal studies of classical music thus began at the relatively late age (for classical pianists) of fourteen. But today, at the age of seventeen, he’s becoming something of a star. He recently won a $10,000 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship for low income students for his prowess at tickling the ivories. What’s more, he performed Sergei Prokofiev’s “Suggestion Diabolique” last Sunday on National Public Radio’s “From the Top” show.
His story is quite extraordinary. I suspect we will hear more about and from Williams in coming years. If his saga doesn’t move you, then I don’t know what will. I urge you to read about it: