Motivation Articles

He Did What He Had No Business Doing

The Story of Art Tatum


Art went on to star in the nightclub circuit that cruised through New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and national radio. He created his own original and creative style that made great musical heads shake in awe and bow in homage.

Art took great pains to master his craft. He got so good at what he did that, over a two-day session, he cut 69 singles tracks – and only three needed more than one take.

Legends of Art’s skill seem almost plausible. One claimed that classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz was moved to tears upon hearing him play. It was also said that Art could identify the dominant note in a flushing toilet.

Limits – mostly false ones – can defeat us before we even start. Do you feel handicapped in some way? Does your knowledge that "there are two people playing" convince you that it’s not possible to do the same? Could your goals benefit from a little less knowledge and little more naïve faith?

Art learned that the "real world" is exactly where dreams belong. All the proof he needed came on a night when he visited a club where Fats Waller was playing. That’s when Fats – his hero, his idol, his main inspiration – told the crowd, "I just play the piano. But God is in the house tonight."

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About The Author

Mike Kramer Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.

Member Comments

  • Great article!! Thanks for sharing! - 6/4/2015 10:48:03 AM
  • Did this article fail to mention Art Tatum comes from the Black American community? Something about this article makes a talented person sound like a performing circus freak. As I said first, the article seems to marginalise the community Mr. Tatum is from. The same community I am from. - 3/10/2014 11:08:41 PM
  • Absolutely awesome. Totally and absolutely awesome! - 2/13/2014 9:03:38 AM
  • I love this story!!
    Thanks for sharing it. - 5/20/2013 12:11:32 AM
  • Wow ! Does that make me pause & reflect . I'm very thankful to Spark People for helping us see the world in another perception that our own. - 5/19/2013 7:47:00 PM
  • So true. SP is teaching us every day this is not only a possibility but a fact. - 5/19/2013 7:00:09 PM
  • Sometimes the Universe gives you exactly what you need when you need it - I was feeling very down this morning because I've been coping with a seemingly impossible situation... this story has made me hopeful again. Thank you very much for sharing.
    - 5/19/2013 3:36:21 PM
  • So inspiring... I have goosebumps! - 5/19/2013 2:09:57 PM
  • Very moving and inspirational! - 5/19/2013 12:31:01 PM
  • Thank you for sharing this much enjoyed article!! Makes you think life is really that simple:


    Know - 5/19/2013 11:44:13 AM
  • "What he had no business doing" has nothing to do with his color and everything to do with his handicap.

    I am so moved by this article. What an inspiration! It is so true that there are no limits to what can be done when limits set by man are taken out of the way and the human spirit is allowed to soar. Thank you for sharing this story. - 5/19/2013 11:10:29 AM
    What a determined , talented person. A true inspiration. It doesn't matter where you come from or what physical limitations you have ,the message is, you can succeed.
    What an amazing article. - 5/19/2013 7:08:42 AM
  • Great article - 5/13/2013 10:55:21 AM
  • I'm inspired by this story as I prepare for a long backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. I know with a mix of faith and determination, anything is possible! Thanks for the inspiring photo, too. - 3/10/2013 9:49:41 PM
    I grew up on this artist music (my Mom was a big fan), loved it then and now! Great story. - 3/10/2013 5:11:28 PM

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