- Scott Yanow
was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to a mother who was a gospel singer. Roberts lost his sight when he was five and a few years later he began teaching himself the piano, beginning formal lessons when he was twelve. He attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine from 1973 to 1981, where he learned all three types of Braille music notation: bar over bar, bar by bar, and paragraph style. He also had nine years of classical piano lessons, four of which took place at Florida State University in Gainesville under the tutelage of Leonidus Lipovetsky. His talents were obvious and subsequently recognized in 1982 with the Young Artist’s Award from the National Association of Jazz Educators, and in 1983 with his winning of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
After he was discovered by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.