By Kathy L. Collins

Just this past November 30, seven-year-old Elias Phoenix of Brandon wowed a crowd of music lovers as he played two Bach songs on a Steinway on stage in Carnegie Hall in New York City. This opportunity of a lifetime came because Elias placed second in the American Protegé International Music Talent Competition.

Elias and his twin brother, Zion, are both artistic and musical. Both boys are homeschooled by their mother, Bree Phoenix.

Elias entered the competition along with applicants from all over the world. He placed second in his age group and was off to New York City. According to his mother, he was not nervous about performing on stage. “He charmed the crowd by strutting on stage, snapping his fingers with a smirk as if to say ‘Here I am’ and playing his two pieces perfectly. In between songs, he raised his index finger in a ‘no no’ motion to the crowd when a few clapped inappropriately between songs. After his performance, he raised his hands off the keys dramatically high and loudly declared ‘Now you can clap’ and then made a heart shape with his hands toward the audience,” she said.

Of his phenomenal achievement at seven-years-old in winning the competition, Elias said, “Great. Wonderful. Magnificent. Awesome!”

Following the performance at Carnegie Hall, Elias bumped into Brandon Stanton, the photographer for the best-selling book Humans of New York. The photo taken of Elias at that time has received over 140,000 likes and thousands of shares. “More than almost any other photo on this photographer’s page,” according to Bree.

According to Bree, “Both boys displayed musical talent from the time they were exposed to the piano at about three-years-old. I noticed they both have perfect pitch and could remember almost any song I showed them immediately and they would try to figure out complex classical songs.”

While Zion did not enter the musical competition, he has much to be proud of with respect to his art. He recently received first place in Center Place’s First Little Monsters Art Show for his watercolor of a pirate ship called “Moonlit Cruise.”

Both boys love to sing, dance and rap. They perform “The Stinky Feet” at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. Photos of Elias playing at Carnegie Hall can be viewed at twit


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