This past week has been a hard one for me. I had several assignments to complete, school performances to prepare for, and family drama to top it off. While in the process of working on an assignment, I opened Firefox and stumbled upon an article entitled: Man Plays Guitar with Feet. Needless to say, I was quite intrigued, so I clicked the link. The man is Tony Melendez of Branson, Missouri. Born in Nicaragua without arms and with a club foot, Melendez came to the US at a young age to be fitted for prosthetic limbs. But instead of helping him, he felt the prosthetic arms got in his way and that he was better off using his feet. Music was a favorite past time of his. He became proficient in playing guitar and writing his own songs.
The video linked to the article, from the Huffington Post, showed Melendez and his band, The Toe Jam Band, performing for a high school in Florida. Though this specific video did not actually play their music, it caught my attention and I looked Melendez and the Toe Jam Band up online. This is the first video I came across:
Melendez performed for Pope John Paul II, and considers the performance his most memorable. I was touched by Melendez's happy spirit and determination. Though he was born with what many would consider a disability, he has not let it get in his way, instead choosing to challenge it, using it to his advantage.
Tony Melendez got me thinking about what music is, what it does, and how it defines us. For Melendez, music is a passion that kept him going. Though I do not face the same physical obstacles that he does, music has been my escape, a way to communicate when I don't know what to say. My connection to God and people. Truly inspired and fired up, I urge all musicians to return to why they love music and what it means to them. Everyone has down days, but it is what we choose to do with those days that defines who we truly are.
Link to the original Huffington Post Article: http://tinyurl.com/62szgnq
And to Tony Melendez's website: http://www.tonymelendez.com
I strongly recommend you check out Melendez and his band, particularly if you need inspiration.