High school pianist is viral sensation
Lansing Everett High School senior Monntel West was just like most other high school seniors.
He plays saxophone in the school band, participates in after-school activities, watches anime and studies hard working his way toward graduation.
Unlike any other high school student, West recently became a viral sensation. He currently has over a million Facebook views on a video taken of him playing piano in the Lansing Mall on Jan. 22.
Since the video was posted, West has been offered scholarships from colleges, has had multiple interviews on live television, has gotten offered to be on daytime talk show, “The View,” and has received a shout out from Grammy Award winning singer Chris Brown.
West said he was waiting for his cousin at the mall when he spotted a piano on display. He sat down and began playing the song “River Flows in You,” by South Korean pianist Yiruma.
At first, West said, only a few people started watching him. As he kept playing the few turned into many.
West continued playing the song with headphones in, no experience reading music and no lessons. Most of the piano skills West had were through practice and watching YouTube videos.
One of the passersby was Lansing native Sara Hadley, who captured West’s performance in a short video.
Hadley saw West playing after she walked out of a store in the mall. She said she was surprised to see a young man playing with headphones in.
“I take photos of everything, so it wasn’t abnormal for me to start the video,” Hadley said. “I was very impressed and thought he was great; especially knowing what I know now about him, not ever having lessons.”
Hadley said she never imagined her video would allow West to have the viral fame he did.
“I had no idea that the video would blow up like it did,” Hadley said. “I just posted it on my Facebook and the next day it was going crazy. I am happy for him. I am hoping to see that he has made his dreams come true in the music industry.”
West said he started playing piano at the end of eighth grade and put a lot of time into practicing.
“I watched a lot of anime and a lot of the songs in anime were on the piano, so I wanted to learn those songs,” West said. “I just kept practicing and practicing.”
West said he has been overwhelmed by the support he has gotten from people.
“I woke up Saturday and one my friends had tagged me in a post and it was her (Hadley) video,” West said. “Later in the day the views started climbing and then once it hit 100,000 it blew up. It all happened so quick.”
West said the video has brought him many opportunities. Those opportunities include receiving scholarships from colleges such as LCC. West said he would like to study music in college.
“I am getting scholarships from all of these universities and it makes me feel surprised and happy,” West said. “People are offering to pay for my college and help me further my career.”
The most rewarding thing about his viral fame, West said, is being able to reach out to people through music.
“It means a lot to me that people I know and don’t know are supporting me and have faith in me; not just from Lansing but around the world,” West said. I like making people smile and making them feel something through music.”
To watch the video of West head to www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxidtYBBN40/