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Special Blues Fest performers feel 'United by Music'

United by Music group performed Tuesday at Waterfront Blues Festival

KOIN 6 News Staff - PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) --- July 4 marked the final day of the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, and it kicked off with a special performance by a group with impressive musical talents, despite having some physical challenges.

United by Music gives people with "development and intellectual challenges and delays" an opportunity to showcase their musical talents. On Tuesday, the group performed at the Waterfront Blues Fest for the 5th year.

"They coach our artists on how to become valued band members, how to perform as a band," artistic and producing director Amanda Gresham said.

Marlana Vanhoose, one of the performers on stage Tuesday, was born with an incurable virus. Within a couple weeks of her birth, doctors discovered she lost her sight. Then, at age 2, she was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy.

Despite her physical challenges, the 22-year-old has proven she is a talented singer and musician who has impressive keyboard skills. Recently, she has been touring the country with United by Music.

Another band member, Nick Baker from Edmonds, Washington, sings and plays the piano. He says everyone is welcome to come play with their group.

"There are no limits," Baker said.

Vanhoose told KOIN 6 News she has a similar message for others.

"Do not give up, always focus on your dreams," she said. "Always remember, we are united by music."

To learn more about United by Music, click here.


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