Jaden Pierce, 8, knows what he likes and that includes playing gospel music on the electric organ.
The Woodland Hills Elementary School second-grader was one of five young Oklahomans honored as grand prize winners of the fifth annual Thunder Black History Heroes Challenge Wednesday night at the Oklahoma City Thunder's home game against the New Orleans Hornets. Pierce got four free tickets to the game, was recognized at center court, received a trophy, a team jersey signed by player Thabo Sefolosha and a prize package from Sprite, one of the competition's sponsors.
Pierce won his age group with an essay and video submission about one of his personal heroes, renowned gospel organist Moses Tyson Jr.
When most kids enter the contest, they usually choose to do their entry over a very well-known African-American civil rights leader such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks. Some kids do entries on African-American entertainers like Oprah Winfrey or Michael Jackson.
The young man's mother, Angela Pierce, asked him who he wanted to do his entry about.
She said Pierce said he wanted to do his entry over a man he had met personally, who inspired him to continue pursuing his musical talent for church organ music Tyson.
Tyson is well-known on the gospel music scene for his mastery of the electric organ.
Pierce has been playing the organ since he was 5. Already, he is an accomplished organist. He learned the difficult instrument from his father, Mitchell Pierce Jr., who is the minister of music at Union Baptist Church, where the young prodigy plays for the congregation.
Tyson has special significance for Pierce not only because they both play the organ, but because he had the chance to meet the man at last year's National Baptist Convention in St. Louis.
Pierce played an organ at the vendor area during the convention one day, which attracted a small crowd. Tyson came up and introduced himself. He gave the boy one of his CDs and told him he has a God-given talent and should keep using it.