Self-Taught Musical Sensation Now Youngest TED Senior Fellow

A 22-year-old musician, who a couple years ago received a load of viral attention for a performance posted to YouTube, is now reportedly the youngest senior fellow to be accepted to the popular TED conferences.

Currently a student at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Usman Riaz, a native of Pakistan, was recently named as a TED senior fellow along with others, according to The Boston Globe.

usman riaz ted retreat
Usman Riaz played at a TED retreat and was recently accepted as a senior fellow to the conference organization. (Image source: Facebook)

Riaz, according to school officials, will begin presenting at TED talks in 2014, the Globe reported.

The college freshman saw internet fame in 2011 when his video “Fire Fly” went viral:

What’s so special about Riaz? Aside from his talent, it could be the fact that he learned classical piano at 6 years old and started to teach himself how to play other instruments with only the internet as his guide.

Watch this video for more of a backstory on Riaz’s musical genius:

“Watching hundreds of videos online, he taught himself percussive guitar—a style that relies on a sharp striking of both the strings and guitar’s body—as well as harmonica, mandolin, harmonium, and percussion,” Berklee stated in a news release.

Among the many who saw “Fire Fly” a couple years ago was TED curator Chris Anderson, who set Riaz up with a 2012 TEDGlobal performance, leading to fellow status last year and to the senior fellow status he now has today.

On Facebook, Riaz wrote that he’s “very grateful for everything.”