Born in 2001 in Hackensack, NJ, Matthew Whitaker grew up surrounded by music. His love for playing music first began at the young age of 3 after his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard.
At 9, Matthew began teaching himself how to play the Hammond B3 organ. Four years later, he became the youngest artist to be endorsed by Hammond in its 80+ year history. He was also named a Yamaha Artist at 15, becoming the youngest musician to join the stellar group of jazz pianists. In 2022, he joined the ranks of the Nord Keyboard Artists.
Matthew has had years of music instruction, currently in his third year in the Jazz Studies program at The Juilliard School.
He’s previously studied classical piano and drums at The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School in NYC. It is the only community music school for the blind and visually impaired in the US. He also studied at The Harlem School of the Arts and was a member of both the Jazz House Big Band and the Organ Messengers at Jazz House Kids in Montclair, NJ. Matthew also attended the Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege Jazz Program. Matthew is currently enrolled in the BA Jazz Studies program at Juilliard in New York City.
Matthew has toured both here in the US and abroad, performing before The Youth Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in NYC, and on other world-renowned stages, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC; SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC; The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Telluride Jazz Festival and at international venues in France, Italy, Germany, Indonesia, UK, Australia, Switzerland, Portugal, Japan, Spain, Morocco, and South Korea.
Matthew has performed with an array of outstanding musicians: Jon Batiste, Ray Chew, Christian McBride, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Rhoda Scott, Cameron Carpenter, Regina Carter, Jason Moran, Marc Cary to name a few.
In 2010, Matthew was a winning participant in the “Child Stars of Tomorrow” competition, as part of Amateur Night at the Apollo. A year later, at just 10 years old, he was invited to perform at Stevie Wonder’s induction into the Apollo Theater’s Hall of Fame. He returned to the Apollo for FOX TV’s revival of Showtime at the Apollo in 2016, where he won the audience over with his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s classic “I Wish.” Matthew has been on national and international radio and television, which includes the Today Show documentary series “Boys Changing the World,” Harry Connick Jr Show, an appearance on the syndicated TV talk show Ellen and a segment on the most-watched news magazine on television 60 Minutes