BOSTON, May 12 (UPI) -- Autistic jazz music savant Matt Savage celebrated his birthday and graduated from Boston's Berklee College of Music Saturday with a 3.99 grade point average.
Savage, who was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old and couldn't stand the sound of music, cut his first album at age 7, has won several ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards, has performed in numerous festivals and competitions around the world and has even played with the likes of Chaka Khan and Chick Corea.
"Music is a soundtrack to my life," he told The Boston Globe. "It transports people into what life could be. When you play music, it feels like you're making the world that much more exciting."
Savage, 20, still has one semester left at Berklee -- he's graduating now because the school only has one ceremony per year -- but plans to perform at the Heineken Jazzaldia Festival in San Sebastian, Spain, in July and has a gig lined up in Japan in September.
Despite Savage's early success -- he's composed some 100 to 200 songs -- he's "basically a typical college kid," said John Funkhouser, Berklee professor and member of the Matt Savage Trio.
"He's gotten good grades, met tons of people, and played with a wide variety of people and in various musical styles," Funkhouser added.