Warren Shadd, former piano prodigy, is the only black piano maker in the world
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
The sound of jazz jam sessions usually fill this Capital Heights home. In fact, it's hard not to tap a finger or two.
It also hard not to notice the grand piano emblazoned with a name you probably haven't heard before: Shadd, for Warren Shadd. And he's quickly making a name for himself in the piano industry.
"He's been challenging the status quo and succeeding. It's pretty impressive," said his longtime friend, Max Murray. "He's a visionary in an old art form."
Shadd is a former child prodigy who then became a professional drummer, and is now in the piano making industry. Industry giants like Steinway and Yamaha have reason to take notice.
"Being a musician, I have an advantage of understanding and knowing intimately what pianists want to hear," said Shadd.
His musical roots run deep. His father was one of the top piano technicians in the country, his aunt is Grammy award-winner Shirley Horn. But after playing gigs for years he wanted more.
"Initially, the challenge was how am I going to do this with zero dollars," said Shadd.
But he took the leap of faith back in 2003, taking on big names with hardly any capital.
He's certainly not hurting now. Prices for his pianos range from $22,000 to $280,000.
"Without having any overhead, I'm selling pianos virtually around the world with no overhead," said Shadd.
And since his first sale in 2012, his pianos are really going global. From weekly appearances on shows like Empire, to Rolls Royce Showrooms, and now the Vatican. Yes, even Pope Francis wants one.
"To be able to have a piano in the Vatican and now be the official piano of the Vatican, that's pretty unbelievable," he said.
From the sound to the aesthetics, it's hard not to be impressed...
"Watch this piano," said Wade Beach. "How many pianos can you just let them go like that and they just, It's all hydraulics. I don't see Steinway or anything that does that."
So when you have the vatican on your resume, what's next? Apparently, lots more.
"Stay tuned, we have something that's pretty out of this world," said Shadd.