William Emerson, 70, known as Abu the Flute Maker, was thrown into the trash by his mother shortly after he was born. He cheerfully calls what he was then a “treasure child,” and speaks on behalf of abandoned and neglected treasure children everywhere. Taking joy in what is around him as he turns junk into treasure is the message he brings to school children in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore neighborhoods.
Performing for a rapt audience of Middle Schoolers on Friday, September 17, Emerson, who does not read music and has had no professional training, demonstrated his gift for music and his talent for recycling as he showed how he has made dozens of ”instruments” from junk found lying around alleys and dumps. He played his saxophone made from a baseball bat, a drum made from porch columns, a bass harp made from a metal trashcan, an electric guitar with the face of a clock, and a horn made from a stack of tin cans graduated in size.