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Man reveals stunning talent decades after being severely beaten by abusive father
January 23, 2017
Stars shine even when we aren't looking at them, and human talent blooms even when not displayed. One 78-year-old Chicago man privately nurtured his love for playing classical piano for nearly 70 years before anyone outside of his family knew how amazingly talented he really is.
Norman Malone's musical talent was obvious at an early age; in 1948, when he was ten, he was already in love with the piano and playing quite well. But any dreams of being a concert pianist came to an end that year when his abusive father nearly killed him; the bludgeoning hammer fractured his skull and partially paralyzed him, making it impossible to play piano with his right hand.
After months in the hospital and throughout years of physical therapy, Malone's interest in the piano never waned. He continued to sit at the keys, playing with just his left hand as best he could. "I thought, well, I may never be known as a pianist. But that doesn't stop me from playing," Malone told the Chicago Tribune.
"I can imagine many hours at the piano, frustrated, because his body just is not doing what it used to," Malone's son, Mark, said. A few years later, however, Malone made a discovery that changed his life.
"I was sure I was out there by myself, until I found compositions that were written [just for the left hand]," Malone told the Tribune. "I thought, 'oh, I found a gold mine here!'" He explained that the compositions were too technically complicated at first, but he kept practicing. Malone later became a beloved choral instructor, teaching in Chicago schools for more than 30 years... while he kept practicing.
It was not until very recently that his students had any inkling of the depth of his piano talent. A tip to a Chicago jazz critic eventually resulted in Malone's first public performance as a solo pianist. The evening ended in a standing ovation while Malone stood silently on stage; his star finally revealed after nearly 70 years.
"If you love something, you're going to find a way," Mark Malone said of Norman's pursuit of his passion. "Until there's not breath in your body, you're going to find a way."