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Piano Prodigy Dazzles West Penn Hospital Staffers

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A piano prodigy from the East Hills received the "Yes I Can" award last year, in the nation's capital.

On Friday afternoon, he dazzled West Penn Hospital staffers at a holiday party in Bloomfield.

Blind in his left eye and with limited vision in his right, Shailen Abram can't read the music he plays. But he doesn't let that, or a form of autism, stifle his talent.

"It flows out of my fingers," he says. "That's the gift that God gave to me. And I realize that."

One day shy of Shailen's 15th birthday, his mother recalls he was born one-pound, nine-ounces, three-months premature.

"If he made it through that first 24 hours, he had a chance," Sharon Elliott says. "So then, it was then 48 hours, then 72 hours. So, we did a lot of praying."

The young pianist engages his crowd in a lively rendition of Jingle Bells Rock.

His mother was startled the first time she heard her son play, and for good reason. He was 18-months-old.

"It was a Roberta Flack song," she says. "So I said, 'Shailen, play that song again.' So, he played it, and I'm like, where did you learn that song? I don't know how he learned it."

A few years ago, the young keyboard artist met Stevie Wonder, who was once a child prodigy himself. His advice: "Don't ever stop playing."

"If Stevie Wonder hears that I stopped," Shailen laughs, "he's going to whup my behind."

Based on Shailen Abram's performance, that won't be necessary.

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Local Piano Prodigy Receives "Yes I Can" Award (4/28/11)
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