Once-homeless student to play at Carnegie Hall

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FL (CNN) -- Talent can take you places. A musician in Florida is using his to go from homelessness to Carnegie Hall.

James Matthews spends up to ten hours a day sitting before a grand piano echoing the sounds of Beethoven.

Since he was 3-years-old, James has kept a piano within arm's reach. His music has gotten him through the good times in life and the bad. He said, "I ended up sleeping wherever I could to sleep for a good part over a year and a half."

After graduating high school, James was homeless. His parents were out of the picture.

Luckily, the piano studio at Florida Southern College in Lakeland was open 24 hours. That's how his teacher learned of his situation and stepped in to help. He said, "He had found me sleeping in his studio and pretty much got me out of that situation. He found me a different school to go to where I had a dorm and a roof over my head."

James continued perfecting his craft at UWF. Eventually, he decided to take his talents to the big stage: Carnegie Hall in New York City.

He entered the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition and, sure enough, James was selected as an honorable mention winner. He said, "It's a dream come true. I, in a million years, thought I would never see myself going on that stage, and it just means the world to me."

A solid performance could springboard his music career to the next level. Musicians from all over the world will study his every note, chord, and key stroke, but James has overcome challenges before and Carnegie Hall will be no different. James said, "I really don't know what's going to happen with it or anything, but I'm just going to go and show my best and stay focused."


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