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This guest post is by musician Nick Guzman who has autism and played at Autism Speaks' Light Up the Blues event in Los Angeles.

One of the first songs I learned to play on guitar was "Helplessly Hoping" when I was 11 years old. I have always loved the sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Fast forward to 2011 when Elaine Hall called my house to ask if I would like to perform for the Miracle Project at an event called “Autism is Awesomeism”. This is when I got to meet Stephen Stills and Jack Black at the Grove in Los Angeles. I played Ray LaMontagne’s “Beg, Steal or Borrow” and after I walked off stage Jack Black told me I sounded like Neil Young! It was a huge surprise that later that day I was asked to perform “Helplessly Hoping" with Stephen Stills himself, along with Lexi Aaron from the Miracle Project. What an amazing experience!

 

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During rehearsals for the Crosby, Stills & Nash concert in Los Angeles on April 13, Crosby's wife Jan Dance stepped out to take a quick break. Hearing the Grammy and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members working their way through their repertoire of folk rock classics, Dance hummed and nodded along.

As her husband launched into his 1969 signature hit, "Almost Cut My Hair," Dance decided it was time to rejoin the band. But when she opened the stage door at Club Nokia, Dance did a double-take.

There, just to the right of Stills and Nash, confidently strumming an acoustic guitar and singing lead, stood not her husband but another musician entirely. Saratoga resident Nick Guzman, 23, was belting out the lyrics in a voice and style nearly identical to Crosby's original.

Excerpt from the article:

After the intermission, a teenager named Nick Guzman effectively took center stage on guitar to perform the defiant CSN&Y chestnut, "Almost Cut My Hair," which brought the house down. Stills' playing gave the song a desperate, soaring edge that represented one of the night's highlights.

 

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Next up was Miracle Project Fly Singers member Nick Guzman, who strummed guitar and belted CSN’s hit “Almost Cut My Hair.” With his Crosby-esque vocal — and long locks appropriate for the tune — Guzman’s performance was a true testament to the success of The Miracle Project, an organization formed to provide autistic performers with opportunities to express themselves in the creative arts.

Excerpt from the article:

The schedule was also broken up with courageous performances by members of the Miracle Project Fly Singers, a group of teens and young adults with autism and other special needs. Rio Wyles, Lexington Aaron and Nick Guzman all delighted the audience with their performances, particularly Guzman’s version of CSN’s “Almost Cut My Hair.”

Light Up The Blues Concert was a huge success!

 

NICK GUZMAN IS AN EXTRAORDINARY MUSICIAN, a kind hearted soul and a blessing to the planet. When he played with the rock great Stephen Stills, Nick was Amazing! What a talent!

NICK GUZMAN IS A YOUNG MAN WITH MUSICAL TALENT. From the first time I heard him sing at my film camp in San Jose CA, I could hear he had the gift. With each passing year at the camps I could see his development and I have encouraged him to continue his passion for performing music. This is why my friend Jeff Lass and I co wrote the song "Since We're Friends" for Nick as a signature song to help promote his career.

I believe Nick will go far in his career of musical performance and I am pleased to have had him as a continuing student in my film camps for four consecutive years. It's been great to see his growth and development as he is a testament for all people to believe in yourself.

 

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