KUALA LUMPUR: Jazz prodigy Jose Andre Montano is not your typical rock star - he is blind and just turned 12 on Monday.
The Bolivia-born musician and composer carries a simple message via his music.
“My message to the world is that there be no more wars, but peace.
“Never stop dreaming, because you have the right to dream. You can achieve it by wishing from the bottom of your heart,” he said in an interview on Thursday after he enthralled the audience at the Global Transformation Forum 2017 when he took to the stage to perform a musical recital and spread his message of peace.
“One day I was having lunch with my dad and I asked him why people wanted to take pictures with me and why reporters wanted to interview me,” he told the audience during his 15-minute performance.
He said that his father then told him somethingfor the first time.
“My father said ‘when you were born, the doctors said that this child would never see, walk, or talk’.”
However, Montano’s father was determined that his son would do well.
“Here I am now. I’ve performed in several cities and now I’m here in Malaysia. I enjoy life,” he said.
His moving rendition at the GTF 2017 saw motivational speaker Chris Gardner coming up onstage at the end and giving Montano a big hug.
During the interview later, Montana said he discovered music when he was three-and-a-half-years-old and self-taught himself to play the piano.
By the time he was six, Montano had already formed his first Latin jazz band and released his first album, Ama a Todos (Love Everybody), two years later.
“I chose jazz because it makes me feel happy when I listen to it and it gives me a lot of feelings. I love it,” said Montano, who also enjoys the blues, rock, tango, and bolero.
His musical influences include jazz pianists like Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, Michel Camilo, and Herbie Hancock.
“I’m planning for another album which will be out in May in the US,” said Montano, who lives in Washington DC with his parents.
Known for his improvisation techniques and expressive music, Montano has shared the stage with jazz musicians from Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and the United States.
While tickling the ivories is his greatest passion, Montano also enjoys playing video games and kicking a ball around the park as much as any 12-year-old.
“I also like playing on my computer, my iPad, going to the theatre, playing football, and having pizza with my friends,” he said.