Ethan Bortnick is a child prodigy. Just ask Oprah, who featured the young pianist on a 2008 episode of her talk show.
Bortnick started playing piano at the tender age of three, starting off with a little Mozart, but was soon writing his own songs, like his latest single, “All About Music.”
By 9 years old, Ethan became the youngest person to have his own PBS Concert, Ethan Bortnick and his Musical Time Machine, which featured Gloria Gaynor.
In July, he earned himself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest musician to headline a solo concert where he played everything from Bach to the Beatles. He was only 9 years, 9 months and 9 days old, when he headlined his own show at the Wentz Concert Hall, Naperville, Illinois, USA, on October 3, 2010.
If that wasn’t enough the 11-year-old, who just started sixth grade, is a budding philanthropist, donating over 30 million dollars to non-profits all over the world. With his latest single, he’s giving all of the proceeds towards Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to help sick kids his age get better.
Ethan’s talent has allowed him to meet big stars like Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand and Justin Bieber. He also got a chance to meet Elton John, who Ethan said “taught him a few things,” and the Black Eyed Peas, who the young pianist said put on a great show.
But Ethan, who told CBS Local he’d like to work with Paul McCartney one day, doesn’t get star-struck easily.
“They’re all very talented people,” Ethan said. “But you know, they’re just regular people like us. They put on their pants the same way that we that we do, one leg at a time.”
One celebrity encounter that does stand out to the young pianist though is meeting Celine Dion backstage at a show in New York when he was just six years old.
Though Ethan says Celine was really nice, he didn’t recognize her at first when she said hello.
“I had no idea who that lady was,” Ethan remembered. “She had some weird mask on for vocal breathing or something.”
As Celine walked away to go get into costume, people just stood in the hallway with their jaws dropped over what had just happened.
Ethan managed to lighten the mood though.
“I asked, “Who is that lady?” he said. “I had no idea, my parents didn’t tell me.”
–Shannon Carlin, CBS Local