Born in 2001 in Hackensack, NJ, Matthew Whitaker grew up surrounded by music. His love for playing music first began at the young age of 3, after his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard.
At 9, 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+ 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 NYC. It is the only community music school for the blind and visually impaired in the US. He also attends the Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege Jazz Program.
He previously studied at The Harlem School of the Arts and was a member of both the Jazz House Big Band and the Organ Messengers at Jazz House Kids in Montclair, NJ.
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 NYC, 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, DC; 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.” Among the many artists that inspire him, Matthew calls Stevie Wonder one of his musical heroes.
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.