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Blind, autistic piano prodigy inspires others

A young man born blind and autistic found his voice through music, and now helps others find their voices.
December 12, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A young man who was born blind and autistic found his voice through music. He now helps others find their voices.

Rex and Friends kicks off this weekend with a live concert to raise funds for music education for the autistic and blind.

The driving force behind this event is Cathleen Lewis, whose son Rex Lewis-Clack, was born 18 years ago blind and autistic in an isolated world until he discovered the piano.

"We're doing it to help out a group of people that need music in their lives," Cathleen said. "This is, I believe, a population that needs it as sort of a bridge to life."

Rex creates medleys many might not dare to.

"A little John Lennon, a little Louis Armstrong, and I throw Mozart in the middle," Rex said.

Famed concert pianist and composer Gabriela Montero is a friend of Rex. She's known for improvising. She and Rex will showcase their talent together.

"In the world of classical music, you don't see that much joy sometimes. And this is just pure joy the way that Rexie relates to music," she said.

Rex will also be performing with the students at the Performing Arts Studio West, a small school in Inglewood, where even veteran musicians are inspired by what's created there. Music director Joe Seabe calls it "humbling, amazing and unbelievable."

Student Rio Wyles found his voice through rap and rocks the audience with his original song about autism. Next, Rex and voice coach Sam McElroy take a turn at opera.

"Music for Rex is not simply a language. It's his eyes. He takes the metaphors out of music and it allows him to see the world," said McElroy.

Rex and Friends are performing this Sunday evening at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever. You'll hear music performed like you've never heard it before.

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