Earthquake Survivor’s Shining Moments

Samuel came up with the hook for his original song while working at his restaurant job. Since he couldn’t write it down while at work, he sang it to himself over and over and over again, so he wouldn’t forget it.

Recently, teen performer, Samuel, sang at a TEDx event. He recognizes how significant this is. “It was an experience I never would have had before.” You see, just a few years ago Samuel was new to this country after surviving a catastrophic natural disaster.

When the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, Samuel was still in grade school. Everything changed in a matter of moments.

Displaced by the tragedy, Samuel and his family made their way to the Boston area to make a new home for themselves. It was there that he found solace in his local Boys & Girls Club. Over the years since then, Samuel has been an active member of the Club, and until recently, he was an occasional participant in the Music Clubhouse, where he sometimes liked to freestyle rap with a group of other teens.

But this year was different— and transformative— for Samuel, says his Music Clubhouse Director. “He underwent tremendous personal growth through our annual multi-week ‘Clubhouse Idol’ music competition. It was really amazing to see it happening in real-time as he progressed through the rounds.” During the weeks of the competition, Samuel began showing up to the studio more frequently to work on his song choices, to record, and just generally be around music.

Each round of the competition brought challenges and triumphs for Samuel. In the second round, Samuel picked his song, Pretty Young Thing by Michael Jackson, only five minutes before going on stage! Despite the last-minute song choice, he advanced to the finals along with “the most competitive field of finalist contestants that we’ve ever seen,” says his Music Clubhouse Director.

The week before the finals, while working at his job at a restaurant, Samuel came up with the hook for his original song. Since he couldn’t write it down or record it at work, he sang it to himself over and over and over again all day long, so he wouldn’t forget it. When he got to the studio that evening, he was excited and motivated. “And only 45 minutes later,” says his Director, “Samuel had fully written his original song about growing up, becoming a man, and learning to find your own way in the world.” With only a few days left to go before the finals, Samuel created the instrumental and taught it to the backing band.

Samuel delivered a soulful, heartfelt performance of his song. And this motivated, talented, hardworking, former refugee from Haiti… won first place in the competition!

Samuel never saw it coming, but his Music Clubhouse Director did. “His mentors had faith in him, and he worked hard. It’s a winning combination.”