The Savant Syndrome

The Savant Syndrome

The Savant Syndrome

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Showing posts with label Tony DeBlois. Show all posts

Tony DeBlois

Anthony Thomas "Tony" DeBlois is a blind US autistic savant and musician.

Biography

Tony DeBlois was born blind on January 22, 1.974. 

He began to play piano at the age of two. At first DeBlois studied in the Perkins School for the Blind but in 1.989 was awarded a summer scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Later he was admitted as a full-time student and graduated magna cum laude in 1.996.

DeBlois specializes in jazz but can play just about any other type of music as well. 

A savant, he plays 20 musical instruments and has held concerts worldwide but also has his own band, Goodnuf. 

He can play about 8,000 pieces from memory.

Tony DeBlois is a musical savant I first met in 1.989 when he was awarded a summer scholarship at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Tony so impressed the staff at Berklee that summer that he was admitted there as a full time student and graduated magna cum laude in 1.996, a astriking achievement for someone both blind and autistic. 

Tony is a tremendous jazz musician and improvises freely, and impressively. 

He, and his mother Janice, were featured in a 1.991.

Today Show and also have been on CBS Sunday Morning. 

There have been many other frequent television and media appearances since that time. 

Tony is autistic and blind with striking musical ability, which, while including spectacular jazz ability, extends to many other musical styles ranging from country to classic. 

He plays 14 musical instruments, 12 of them proficiently. 

Like many other musical savants, his ability surfaced at an astounding level when his mother bought him a chord organ at a garage sale when Tony was 2 years old. 

His story, and that of his dedicated proud mother was told in a CBS Movie of the Week, Journey to the Heart, which was broadcast nationally on March 2, 1.997. 

Tony's mother, Janice DeBlois, describes his remarkable story this way :

"Born weighing 1 lb. 3/4 oz. was only the first obstacle that Tony DeBlois had to overcome. 

This 29-year-old pianist from Randolph, MA is blind, autistic and has Savant Syndrome. 

He has been playing the piano since age 2. 

He was the subject of the 1.997 CBS made for TV Movie of the week 'Journey of the Heart,' which was inspired by actual events in Tony's life. 

Additionally, he has appeared on 2 Catholic Global Showcase Specials (2.001), The Learning Channel's 'Uncommon Genius', Strange Science 'Unusual People', and 'Understanding the Mysteries of Memory'. 

He is the recipient of numerous awards, among them are Chou, Ta-Kuan Cultural and Educational Foundations Global 'Love of Life Award' (2.002), the Faith and Family Foundation first Outstanding Achievement Award, the coveted Reynolds Society Achievement Award (1.996), the Foundation for Exceptional Children's prestigious 'Yes, I can' Award for 1.993 and the Panasonic Sponsored, VSAarts Itzhak Perlman Award (1.992). 

As Tony's 'Let me do it independently' attitude inspires many people who meet him, his talents are being noticed internationally, hence his returning concerts to both Singapore and Taiwan and upcoming performances in Dublin and Limerick, Ireland. 

Stories about him have been broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR), Voice of America Radio and Talk America. 

Spots about him aired in documentaries in Rome, London, Japan and Australia. 

Tony is the inspiration for the book 'Fred's Prayer Machine' (Ambassador Book 5/02) and he will be appearing in two Psychology textbooks referencing autism. 

All this fame has not daunted Tony's excitement about learning. 

His studies at Perkins School for the Blind earned him a Certificate of Achievement but, his hard work at Berklee College of Music paid off; he graduated magna cum laude on Mother's Day 1.996. 

When not on tour, Tony enjoys singing with St. Mary's Choir, performing with his band 'Goodnuf' and spending time with his girlfriend. 

Besides piano, Tony enjoys playing the organ, harmonica, guitar, harpsichord, English handbells, violin, banjo, drums and trumpet, and is now learning saxophone, clarinet, ukulele, mandolin and flute. 

When not playing musical instruments, Tony enjoys swimming, exercise equipment, the computer, Mystery Tours and has just learned to ballroom dance. 

For Tony there are no 'roadblocks' but mere obstacles to be cast aside or skirted. 

His favorite phrase seems to be 'I haven't learned that yet.'"

Tony's new, third CD, was recently released. It is titled "Beyond Words" and is an instumental jazz work in which Tony teams up with what the Boston Globe terms "Boston's House Band" with Bo Winiker on trumpet and flugehorn, Tommy Petrakis on bass and Bill Winiker on drums.