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Local Piano Prodigy Receives “Yes I Can” Award

(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He is considered a piano prodigy. A teen from the East Hills who has been playing the piano by ear since he was about 18-months-old.

While he’s an incredible musician, what’s really remarkable about Shailen Abram is he’s been blind all his life. On Wednesday night, Abram was recognized with a national award.

He was denied the sense of sight, but developed a sixth sense for music. He makes incredibly beautiful sounds, and he’s been doing it for most of his 13 years. His mother first heard him when he was 18-months-old.

“I’m like, is that you playing or is that the radio? I really did, I thought it was the radio,” said Sharon Elliott, Shailen’s mother.

He can’t explain how he does it; he just plays beautiful, entertaining songs.

He can’t read music. He can’t see the keys, and he has a form of autism. In spite of all that, or maybe because of all that, he can play any song he hears.

Roger Thomas has been Shailen’s music teacher for 10 years at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind.

“It’s definitely a gift. Shailen definitely has a gift and we’re just trying to develop it and bring it out even more,” said Thomas.

Another blind prodigy, Stevie Wonder, was in town a couple of years ago and invited Shailen backstage where he offered him some advice.

“He said don’t stop,” said Shailen.

He can play many instruments, including his latest passion, the drums.

While Shailen has fun on the drums, it’s his piano genius that earned him national recognition.

He received the “Yes I Can” Award for children with disabilities who excel in the arts. Now, word of his musical genius is now reaching a crescendo.

“He earned it. He really did,” said Thomas. “He came a long way.”

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“Yes I Can” Award
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