Tadataka Unno recalls being surrounded by eight men in Harlem, New York and brutally beaten in August of 2020 at a subway station.
Doctors told the accomplished jazz pianist from Japan that he might never be able to play the piano again.
They were wrong. Unno has not only been able to play again, but he also released his latest album Get My Mojo Back earlier this year.
“It just didn’t sound like something played by an injured person,” he said to Nikkei Asia.
“This is the first time I’ve written music without using a piano,” he said in a separate interview with The Japan News. “Overall, the tunes turned out to be upbeat and cheerful since I felt hopeful of seeing my son, who was only 3 months old when I was attacked, grow day by day.”
Unno acknowledged he recorded the album while still in pain.
Today he is still undergoing physical therapy and says it’s difficult to lift his right hand above his shoulder.
“I start playing piano since I was four,” he revealed to Inside Edition. “When I was nine, I switched to play jazz. So my kind of panic and also so sad. I didn’t know what to do if I cannot play the piano anymore. I should find another job or know how to make living. And also, I just got a newborn baby (June 2020).”
Unno returned to Japan for his rehab. He admitted it was difficult for him to overcome a mental block to return to New York.
“I was so afraid still to this day. I cannot go to the subway. I can not get on subway. It’s still hard for me, but little by little, get to use to walk around by myself, but it’s still hard.”
During the beating, he said his attackers called him a “Chinese mother f*cker.” He said he tried to run away while calling for help, but most people just ignored him.
He told Nikkei Asia that “prejudice is about not accepting others, not even trying to understand them.”
“Music can be the thing to inspire people in that direction,” he said.
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