ST. LOUIS — 5 On Your Side’s Frank Cusumano sat down with one of the most remarkable 15-year-old’s you’ll ever meet.
Her name is Holly Connor.
She has autism and is blind, but that doesn’t stop her from doing any of her many talents.
She can act, dance, play piano and sing.
“She’s a musical genius she can play anything, sing anything,” Kelly Weber, theatre director at Clayton High School said.
“Her ability to express her emotions through this medium is great,” Ron McGowan, vocal coach at Webster University said.
When she was 4 months old, Connor was diagnosed with septo-optic dysplasia, which left her blind. Not too long after that, she was diagnosed with autism.
“Getting the diagnosis that she was blind was defeating. I mean it really knocked the wind out of me because I didn't expect that,” Holly’s mom, Katie, said.
Her mom also didn’t expect that she would have such an uncanny connection to music. Holly started playing the keys with her hands when she was just 6-months-old.
And she hasn’t stopped.
“You see music is a part of me. It's my inspiration. It’s what makes me feel happier. It calms me down. I can hear anything from what key a song is in to the words,” Holly said.
5 On Your Side’s Frank Cusumano played a James Taylor song for Holly and she had never played it or heard it before. In just two minutes, she had the song mastered.
She then played ‘Hotel California.’
Holly has been in over 30 plays. She can read the script just once for the play and will have every line memorized – and not just her lines, everybody’s lines.
A lot of the script work is done by her mom. She receives the scripts in PDF form and then transfers them over to word, edits it into work and then reads it line by line. Katie converts the word document and opens it up in the brail program, once she’s finished with that she prints it. Overall, it’s usually 250 pages of braille and takes 60 hours of work.
Katie said it’s all worth it.
“She gets to be involved, she gets to be with her peers. I want to give her the same advantage that her peers have, and they get a script,” Katie said.
In 2019, Holly performed the national anthem at a Blues game. She impressed the Blues so much in her audition tape, she wasn’t required to do any additional auditions.
She said she wasn’t nervous even with the thousands of people watching her.
Katie said she cries a lot because she’s so happy to see her daughter doing what she loves and that’s she’s accepted.
Holly’s dream is to be in a Broadway musical.
To see more of Holly, you can check out her YouTube.