Friday, February 10, 2017

Changing Lives: Darryl Duncan

Something great happened that made me feel like I was on The Ellen Show, receiving happy news. Let me give you the background first ...

Two years ago I was asked by a mom in my organization, the Dyslexia Buddy Network, to find a local musician with dyslexia to inspire her son, Jake. His high school had a long history of refusing to provide necessary accommodations and interventions for dyslexia, and it was taking its toll on him. Music was Jake's outlet and his strength. His mom wanted him to feel like there was life after this bad high school experience and there was hope.

Thanks to Google, I discovered award-winning music producer Darryl Duncan. I emailed him out of the blue, explained that the Dyslexia Buddy Network's mission is to inspire and connect kids with dyslexia to each other, and asked if he'd be willing to mentor Jake. Darryl responded immediately with kindness and willingness. He invited Jake and Jake's mom to his music production studio where they had a lengthy talk about music and songwriting. 

Darryl continued to mentor Jake, guiding his music and songwriting. He built up Jake's self-esteem when it was needed most. He encouraged Jake to look into studying music, and suggested a few music schools to consider. 

Darryl's belief in Jake's abilities made an impact. Fast forward to today: Jake has moved to Los Angeles, and is studying at the ICON Collective, a school focused entirely on music production, and he is thriving!

Jake and Darryl, at the Dyslexia Buddy Network's
Champion Chat. 

We were honored to have Darryl as a speaker at a Champion Chat. “Each of you has a special gift and talent that is above average, and makes you very, very special. People with dyslexia have unique skills, and above average talents," he said to our kids. Darryl encouraged the kids to focus on their super powers. (Watch Darryl’s Champion Chat here.)

Darryl studied jazz piano, MIDI, and electronic music at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. His songs have been recorded on over 31 albums and motion pictures since 1987 including several charting singles and a number one record. He has written more than 380 songs for many music industry notables such as: Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Jeffrey Osborne, Shanice Wilson, Barry White, Young MC, Sharon Bryant, Dawnn Lewis, E.U., Elisa Fiorillo, Vesta, Keisha Jackson, Foster Sylvers, Howard Johnson, Karen White, O’Brien, Jerry Butler. Darryl was also a solo artist on Motown in 1987. He has also written music for commercial product jingles for Toyota, Miller beer, BP/Amoco, McDonald’s, The Illinois State Lottery, Volkswagen, Walmart, Sears and has won industry awards for his songwriting abilities.

Kristin Paxton is the Founding Mama Bear of the Dyslexia Buddy Network.

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