Denver man becomes overnight musical sensation after head injury
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012 10:29AM EST
After spending years between jobs and living on the streets, 47-year-old Derek Amato is enjoying a new career as a sought-after musician. That success came after a head injury turned the Colorado man into a musical prodigy, almost overnight.
As he grew up in Denver, Amato participated in sports and chased girls just as many young boys would. Then a blow to his head in 2006 left Amato with an amazing discovery: he had become a musical genius.
The dramatic change took place after Amato crashed head first into the shallow end of a pool in 2006. He and some friends had been horsing around at a party.
“I was running and dove in,” Amato said.
Amato was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with a serious concussion.
“I had no concept of where I was or what had happened to me for four days,” Amato said.
On the fifth day, Amato awoke to learn that he had been left with some memory loss and a significant loss of his hearing ability in his left ear.
But Amato’s new musical abilities would surface shortly after his release from hospital, during a visit to a friend’s home.
Amato felt drawn to a piano in one of the rooms. Without knowing why or how, Amato placed his hands on the keyboard and began to play music that was rapturously beautiful.
“My hands started to do things I was unaware of,” said Amato.
Remarkably, Amato had never participated in a music lesson in his life. Regardless, he was able to play the piano at a level that took years to attain.
Doctors later diagnosed Amato with Acquired Savant Syndrome, where people display profound abilities after suffering a head trauma.
“I don’t get to choose what I play. As I talk my brain makes music. It happens 24 hours a day and it just keeps going,” Amato said as he displayed his new skills on Canada AM.
Amazed by what has happened to him, Amato’s new gift has turned his life around.
After years of failed jobs and a period of homelessness, Amato is now a professional musician and has appeared on the “Today” show.
Amato is currently working on his second album and is hopeful that his new career will inspire the world.
“It’s all been a blessing,” he said.