London-born Tokio Myers, a former session pianist, was crowned the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2017 on June 3. The classically trained pianist received 250,000 pounds (approx. US$328,000), which he intends to use to mentor and inspire youth from tough backgrounds.
Tokio Myers, 33, of mixed West Indian and British descent, opened up to the media about how he witnessed the final moments of his head teacher, Philip Lawrence, when he was just 11 years old.
Mr. Lawrence was fatally stabbed to death outside the gates of St George’s Catholic school in north London in 1995.
“I was in the music room practicing piano when the door gets kicked open and my teacher drags me off the stool,” Myers told The Sun.
“As I’m carried out I see my headmaster coming into the atrium next door. I see him collapsing, I see blood, and my music teacher is covering my eyes.”
Myers reckoned his music teacher, Mr. Morgan, was trying to protect him during the attack.
“He escorts me out the back of the school and kicks me to a safe place and says, ‘Go home, go, go,’” recalled Myers, in another interview with The Mirror.
“Ever since that day I feel like me and him have some kind of bond, not just through music but just that moment.”
He states it was Mr. Morgan’s influence and music that kept him out of gangs and jail during those tough years.
“Looking at the people I grew up around, I’ve had people I went to school with who are no longer here today because they’re either literally dead or in jail. It’s still going on,” Myers said.
“Playing piano and having great people around me is what got me through a lot of terrible situations,” he added.
“Having music kept me out of a lot of trouble. It kept me smart … protected me from other things—being dead or in jail.”
He said he was fortunate he could transform his negative feelings into a positive energy, through music.
Knowing the positive influence of music on youth, Myers revealed he would use the 250,000-pound prize money to establish his own music school so as to inspire youth from similarly tough backgrounds.
“I would love to be able to set up my own music school one day to mentor and inspire other people,” he said.
Myers is also hoping to inspire disadvantaged youth through his forthcoming album, Our Generation, which tells the story of his life growing up on a rough estate.
“What’s been a huge turning point for me is getting thousands of messages from kids all over the world saying to me, ‘I’m in the same position, your story resonates with me,’” Myers said, according to Daily Star.
“I realized making a soundtrack to my life is a soundtrack to theirs and I will do whatever I can to help them.”
Watch the moment Myers is announced BGT 2017 winner here:
Photo credit: YouTube Screenshot | Britain’s Got Talent.