also reminded me of Tony Melendez's
singing for JPII so long ago, and I just love the video of that day. Every time I see it, I get emotional. Clearly, ALL life is precious to God.
Against the odds:
Born without arms, Tony Melendez learned to play the guitar with his feet
He now travels around the world, playing for all walks of life.
Video Watch Tony Melendez perform for Pope John Paul II in 1987 in Los Angeles.
When Tony Melendez, 46, plays the guitar, it sits on the floor, and he sits in a chair behind it.
This setup allows Melendez to put his left big toe across the neck of the guitar to form a bar chord. He uses his right foot to either hold a guitar pick or pluck the strings, depending on the song.
"It just kind of worked, and I played by ear and I just kept practicing, and every year I got a little better, and a little better, and a little better," Melendez said.
Melendez, who lives in Branson, now travels all over the world playing the guitar and singing.
He plays this way because he was born without arms.
Melendez was a "thalidomide baby," a term used to describe the thousands of babies born without limbs because their pregnant mothers had been prescribed the drug for morning sickness.But growing up was not as hard as most people assume.
"People think that (my childhood) was really painful, you know, the arms was a big problem," Melendez said. "I would say I was a normal kid without arms, but, you know, there was no pain."
While he was teased a bit as a child, Melendez said other kids were teased too, and that "I just learned to close my ears to it."
Growing up, Melendez was reminded by his father that he had to do things on his own.
"I think that really helped me to get where I am today," Melendez said. "I had to fend for myself. Now, I'm married, I have kids, I travel, I'm a singer – you have to learn how to do things on your own or you'll be asking for help forever."
Melendez has always sung, but he started playing the guitar at 16. He can also play the harmonica and single notes on the keyboard, but does not consider himself a keyboardist.
"Music has kind of been a getaway for me," Melendez said. "It's also been a form of prayer."
He said music reminds him of certain times or places and is a source of income for his family today.
"It's even been a sense of hope, you know, when people hear it," Melendez said. "When I'm singing, they say, 'I'm inspired.'"
In 1987, Melendez played "Never Be the Same" for Pope John Paul II at an event in Los Angeles. When he finished, the pope jumped off the stage to give Melendez a kiss.
"I would say it was a big honor, you know, my heart was ... I felt it was gonna come out of my chest, like ka-boom, ka-boom, ka-boom, just from the moment," said Melendez, who is a fervent Catholic. Read the rest of the article here...