Arts & Humanities Campus News

Matthew Whitaker makes Athens debut with his quintet

Matthew Whittaker and his quintet take the Performing Arts Center stage Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Jazz pianist Matthew Whitaker has built a burgeoning career in a few short years. He makes his Athens debut with his quintet Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Hodgson Concert Hall.

Born in 2001 in Hackensack, New Jersey, Whitaker has toured both in the U.S. and abroad, performing on 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; 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, the UK, Australia, Switzerland, Portugal, Japan, Spain, Morocco and South Korea.

Whitaker grew up surrounded by music. His love for playing music began at age 3 after his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard. At age 9, Whitaker 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-plus-year history. He was also named a Yamaha Artist at 15, becoming the youngest musician to join the stellar group of jazz pianists.

In 2010, Whitaker 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.” Whitaker has been on national and international radio and television, which includes a segment on the most-watched news magazine on television, “60 Minutes.”

Whitaker, who is blind, said, “I am a musician, who happens to be blind. … I have been blessed with a God-given gift, and my prayer is that I can continue to be a blessing and inspiration to others.”

This UGA Presents performance is supported by the Dixen Foundation Fund at the Athens Area Community Foundation.

Three ways to get tickets

  1. Purchase tickets online at
  2. Call the Performing Arts Center box office at 706-542-4400, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  3. Visit the UGA Performing Arts Center box office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (five-minute parking is available in the drop off circle at the Performing Arts Center for purchasing or picking up tickets.)

Ticket buyers can create a series of three performances for 20% off. Single tickets begin at $25, and UGA student tickets are just $10. Parking is free.

To learn more about all UGA Performing Arts Center events, visit