Celebrating Two Young Music Phenoms from Colorado
The world of music has long celebrated young prodigies like Stevie Wonder, who was born blind, but considered a skilled musician by age 8. And then there was Prince who began playing the piano at age 7 and had mastered the guitar and drums by age 14.
Two young, gifted and Black boys from Colorado seem to be keeping that tradition alive and well.
Their early exposure to music and some major parental support and nurturing seem to have paid off in a big way. Both young boys are considered musical phenoms in their own right, having caught the public’s attention with their impressive performances.
Eight-year-old Sam Price of Denver had an affinity for playing the drums and singing for as long as he can remember. “I really love drums. That’s why I’ve been doing it half [of] my life,” says Price, a second grader at Aspen Crossing Elementary School.
He recently showcased his skills performing with his parents’ band, Soul School, at The Soiled Dove, a live music venue in Denver. One of his favorite songs to perform with them is his own unique rendition of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” “It has a good beat, and I can sing to it,” says Price.
Being born to musicians, it’s no wonder that he started showing interest in playing the drums just before the age of two. Mom Sethe Tucker says his early access to musical instruments has played a significant role in developing his talents. “I think the more exposure kids get, the better they turn out,” she says. After overcoming his fear of the dark at the age of 5, she says Sam started to practice playing the drums on his own in the basement where the band rehearses.
“Surprisingly enough to us he would just, you know, go down into the basement and get on the drums and just practice and do what he wanted to do,” remembers Tucker, adding that he’s primarily self-taught.
Sam also feeds his deep passion for music at school as a member of the music club and playing in the band. When he’s not beating the drums, he also enjoys playing both tackle and flag football on a local team and tumbling. “We’re trying not to push him in one direction, we want it to be a choice for him,” insists Tucker.
She hopes that other kids who see her son perform are inspired to hone their own special gifts, especially those who are children of color. “I feel great about what I’m doing,” says Sam who is considering singing professionally in the future.
Two years ago, while relaxing in his living room, Isaiah Kofie heard an unfamiliar melody drifting up from the basement of his Aurora home. To his knowledge, his son Jude, who is autistic, only had the musical talent of playing the drums, but there he was skillfully playing a tune on an old keyboard despite never having received any lessons. “It was a miracle from God,” says Jude, now 11 years old.
From there, his love for playing the piano developed quickly and without any prompting. Kofie eventually bought a professional keyboard for Jude and his musical gift blossomed. “He’s all self-taught,” says Kofie. “He watches a lot of people on YouTube and then he gets onto his keyboard and then starts playing.”
Late last year, following media recognition of Jude’s exceptional talent, a stranger named Bill Magnusson gifted him a grand piano and volunteered to provide maintenance and formal piano lessons. With guidance and support from his mentor and family, “I’m starting to read music,” says Jude.
This will further enhance his existing ability to learn a song by ear in approximately two days. Kofie says his son hopes to learn how to play the bass guitar, and Jude adds, “When I’m 12 or 13 years old.”
In January, Jude was showcased as a guest on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” During the program, he gave an intimate interview and delivered a captivating performance. He was also granted mentorship from Jason Halbert, Clarkson’s personal music director. “It was amazing, I had a great time,” recalls Jude.
This past May, Jude auditioned for America’s Got Talent. He also had the opportunity to perform alongside his favorite gospel artist, Grammy award-winning singer Cece Winans. Jude is now working on a gospel album titled “Hope and Faith,” which he hopes to release soon.
“We want people to have that faith and hope that whatever they are going through will be okay,” adds Kofie. “Jude has a true love of music, when he plays the piano he says, ‘I feel joyful and cheerful.’”.
Editor’s Note: Follow Sam on Instagram at Pumaprice or on the Soul School website at soulschoollive.com. Follow Jude’s musical journey on his official Instagram account at Judekeyzofficial.