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Local musical prodigy amazes listeners, says he "hears" colors

Neurological phenomenon to blame
Posted at 1:30 PM, Nov 30, 2020

TAMPA, FL — When 12 year old Leon Vincent sits down at his piano, the result is pure magic.

His fingers glide over the keys as he belts out Lady Gaga's hit, "Shallow," hitting those incredibly tough high notes with ease.

He's used to playing in front of audiences but all that's changed now. The pandemic has slowed him down. My interview with him is like a mini-concert.

He plays three instruments: the piano, guitar, and ukulele.:all self taught!

"I taught myself to play the piano when I was like 9 years old after my brother got one for Christmas," he said.

Later on he decided he wanted to learn to play the guitar. His mom was stunned when she took him to buy one.

"He learned 22 guitar chords in less than a half-hour," she said. It takes most people months just to learn a few.

His mom, Barbara Scheifele, thinks an unofficial diagnosis her son received a few years ago may be responsible for his incredible talent.

"What's it called? Synesthesia?" She asks her son. She's still learning about the neurological phenomenon which is often described as a "crossing of the senses".

Synesthetes feel sounds, taste shapes and in Leon's case... he hear colors. His mom plays a note on the piano,

"What's this color?" Leon responds, "Green." "And this one?" Leon says, "Orange." Barbara laughs, "He could tell me anything. I don't know."

What she does know is that her son is a musical prodigy. She says she looked up the definition and he checks all the boxes.

Leon just released his first Christmas album. He sings Christmas classics and an original. He's so incredibly talented and poised, it's hard to believe he's only 12 years old.

"Has anybody ever told you you're what's called an "old soul?" He says, "Yes, several times. Almost everyone i meet says I'm an old soul."

His mom is amazed just watching him. She says neither she nor her husband have musical talent. "I'm just in awe of him but I can't be too amazed. He has a brother and his brother is amazing, too." Leon interrupts her, "Mama, can I have dark chocolate? Mama, can I have dark chocolate?" And just like that, I'm reminded that this gifted musician is still just a child.