Faces of Kansas City: Teen guitarist making name for himself - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: Teen guitarist making name for himself despite disability

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

CJ Walker is in love with the blues.

"You can feel it, no matter where you come from or what kind of music you like. That first note, that's just soulful to me," Walker said.

Most people are surprised to learn that the 17-year-old has only been playing the guitar seriously for three years.

"He taught himself, he's never taken lessons and it just made sense to him because of the way the music sounds. You can tell it's from his soul, you can tell it's from his heart," said Melanie Kizine, Walker's mom.

But what really surprises people is that, because of a disability, the young man plays the guitar one-handed.

"It appears you've never let that get in your way," said KCTV5's Brad Stephens.

"Take a disadvantage and make it into an advantage, you can't go wrong," Walker said.

There were problems during childbirth and doctors struggled with his delivery.

"With them twisting his shoulder as they delivered him, it caused the nerve to pull from the spine which stopped the operation of his left arm and left hand," said Clint Walker, CJ Walker's dad.

He's never let his disability slow him down and that was evident even as a young boy. But what's also clear is that CJ Walker isn't afraid to take chances.

"This is a right-hand guitar, but I flipped it upside down because I learned that way, so the strings are backwards. So I kind of had to learn the guitar upside down," he said.

His unorthodox style is a crowd pleaser. CJ Walker frequently takes the stage during open jam sessions at local venues.

"The feeling I get on stage, it's like this is where I need to be, nowhere else," he said.

It's enough to make a grown man cry.

"Probably the first time I saw him play I had tears in my eyes, I was so amazed at how good he was," Clint Walker said.

CJ Walker said he's at his best when he's not trying to play a particular song, his style is free style.

"(Speaking about creating) It's like the first note, then I can figure out where I want to go next, if that makes sense," he said.

Right now, CJ Walker is a senior at Center High School. After graduation he plans to study music somewhere where he says he'll constantly be playing his guitar.

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