Blind violinist serenades JMH, remembers Haiti earthquake
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A blind, Juilliard-trained violinist injured during the 2010 Haiti earthquake returned to South Florida for a special encore recital.
Romel Joseph, who lost his pregnant wife during the natural disaster, performed for children at Jackson Memorial Hospital Friday. It was at JMH where doctors brought him back from the brink of death three years ago.
"I think this place is already my home because this is where I started, after the earthquake, to be alive again," Joseph said. The accomplished musician was one of the 300,000 people injured when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti back in 2010.
Joseph spent more than 18 hours trapped, crushed by the cement blocks that used to be his music school. "I went from the third floor, and I fell on the ground floor," Joseph said, "incredible, because you're supposed to die."
Joseph underwent months of surgeries and intense rehabilitation at JMH. His fingers crushed by debris, he thought he'd never pick up a violin again. Three months after the disaster, he was serenading the doctors and nurses.
Joseph's story gained national attention, and even caught the attention of music legend Stevie Wonder, who delivered a gift in song. "I am hoping you enjoy this keyboard I am giving you," Wonder sung to Joseph. "I used it on the last project that I did," the Grammy-winning performer added.
Following this act of kindness, Joseph is now using his time to pay it forward. He has since rebuilt his music school, and is raising money to build Haiti's first performing arts center.
"I didn't think I would be alive," said Joseph. "I am, and I think there's a reason for that, and that's to bring more music to Miami and to Haiti."
Joseph's son says he and his father hope to return to JMH. They plan to make the trip an annual family vacation.
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