When Frankie Moran first saw his son, Cole, he couldn't imagine ever sharing his love of music with the boy. Cole had cognitive delays and other birth defects. And he was blind.
“When he was born, I didn’t see any eyes like how we have eyes. And my heart sank," Moran admits, adding that he thought to himself " 'Oh, wow, this is real now. He is blind.'”
But Cole was not deaf, and he quickly displayed an interest in music. Moran, a singer-songwriter, said his son always gravitated towards wherever he was playing around the house and touched the instruments. When Cole was old enough to sit up at a toy piano on the floor, he started picking out notes of songs.
"He was probably one year old when he was doing that," said Moran. "That is about the same time we discovered he had perfect pitch because when he would miss a note or hit a wrong note in a melody like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", he would go back and find that note.
"That is how we figured he knew what he was hearing. But it wasn’t until he was about six or seven that he started just hearing songs and being able to play them right back as soon as he would hear them.”
Cole, now 12, has early onset scoliosis that requires him to have surgery every six to nine months until his body fully grows. He has had five operations on his spine over the past three years.
"His incision is probably about 12 inches long [30.5 centimeters]. So it is a pretty invasive procedure," explained his mother, Jenny.
Except for the first few weeks of the recovery, Cole practices every day, recording and listening back to the sound.
“Happy. When I am playing music, I am happy,” he said.
Music helped him learn to speak at age five.
"Without music, I don't know he would be able to communicate like he does," Jenny said, adding, "Music is always everything to him. He just loves it."
Cole’s choice of instrument since he was four has been the harmonica, which he often plays with his dad. Last year, the father and son duo won second place at an annual Fiddler’s Convention in their hometown, Berlin, Maryland.
Now and then, Cole performs with his father under the name Blind Wind at a café in Berlin, and he's become a bit of a celebrity there. A woman the Morans encountered in town recognized them and told them, “It is awesome and so inspiring.”
Cole's first CD was recently released.
“It is amazing," said Jenny Moran. "Since he was a baby, it [music] has always been his thing. And now it is wonderful that he has something that he can do for the rest of his life that he will always enjoy.”
Frankie Moran added, "I don’t think there is any limit to where he can end up. I am talking mostly on the music side. I think he’s got a really bright future.”
Cole attends Maryland School for the Blind in Baltimore, and when classes end for the summer, there will be lots of time for music. Next summer, Frankie said, he thought he and Cole would hit the road and take Blind Wind on a concert tour around the country.