Performing on the Yamaha AvantGrand
Born in 2001 in Hackensack, N.J., Matthew Whitaker grew up surrounded by music. His love for playing music first began at the young age of three, after his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard.
At nine, Matthew began teaching himself how to play the Hammond B3 organ. Four years later, he became the youngest artist to be endorsed by Hammond—in its 80-plus year history. He was also named a Yamaha Artist at 15, becoming the youngest musician to join the stellar group of jazz pianists.
Matthew has had years of music instruction, currently studying classical piano and drums at the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School of the Lighthouse Guild in New York City. It is the only community music school for the blind and visually impaired in the United States. He also attends the Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege Jazz Program.
Matthew has received the “Outstanding Soloist Award” from Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Charles Mingus High School Competition, and Festival and the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. He was also recognized by the Harlem International Film Festival, which named him “Most Remarkable Young Person on Screen.”
He’s already toured both here in the US and abroad, performing before the Youth Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York City and on other world renowned stages, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC; SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts & Ali Cultural Arts in Florida, and at international venues in France, Italy, Morocco, and Japan.
In 2010, Matthew was a winning participant in the “Child Stars of Tomorrow” competition, as part of Amateur Night at the Apollo. A year later, at just 10 years old, he was invited to perform at Stevie Wonder’s induction into the Apollo Theater’s Hall of Fame. He returned to the Apollo for FOX TV’s revival of Showtime at the Apollo in 2016, where he won the audience over with his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s classic “I Wish.”
Under the auspices of the Jazz Foundation of America, Matthew recently released his debut album Outta The Box—featuring 10 outstanding tracks introducing listeners to his composing and arranging skills, while his light shines bright on six original compositions.
In January 2017, he was named one of the “17 people to watch in New Jersey” by The Record, one of New Jersey’s largest newspapers.