My first NAMM Show was in 2005.
I was a 20-year-old kid, who happened to be completely blind, and everybody thought I was just off my rocker saying I want to get into the piano business. I was a college student who had a computer business. People didn’t know that. I went to a lot of different vendors to investigate the possibility of becoming a piano dealer in the Midwest.
There was this guy who to me sounded like he had to be in his 70s or 80s. At the time he worked at Baldwin. He introduced himself as Frankie. He laughed so hard at me and said, “Son, you might as well turn around and walk out of this booth and fly back home to college because you will never make it.”
So, in 2017, we had only been a Yamaha dealer for nine months. It was the Sunday of the show and wouldn’t you know it, Stevie Wonder made his annual forage to the Yamaha booth after most people had left on Sunday afternoon because he likes to come in and try new things.
We had such a wonderful little time there around this SX piano. Stevie asked me a couple questions; where I come from and things like that, and he said the most unexpected thing. He was playing the piano and said, “Thomas, would you play for me? I want to hear you play in my head.” So I said, yes, absolutely, I will. He took my arm. Talk about the blind leading the blind, right? He sat me down at this artist’s bench at the piano. Well, what do you do when Stevie Wonder asks you to play the piano? I decided if I’ve been asked to play for Stevie, I’m going to play something so far away from his genre. I played some Chopin Nocturne for him. And he truly was so gracious and kind and enjoyed listening to the Chopin, and we had such a nice moment there.
[Article from MusicInc Magazine, February 2020]