Samuel Leighton “Sammy” Maddox (b. 2003) is a fifth-generation native of El Paso, Texas. Sammy became interested in piano at age four when his brother Ben began taking lessons with Mrs. Marilyn Robinson, with whom he started taking lessons after turning seven. It was Mrs. Robinson who first recognized Sammy’s potential, labeling him a “prodigy.” Soon she was assigning Sammy repertoire normally reserved for her much older students, which Sammy deftly handled. Once Mrs. Robinson retired in 2013, Sammy, at age ten, transferred to the Studio of Dr. Esequiel Meza, Jr. Recognizing Sammy’s advanced skills, extremely competitive spirit, and God-given ability to quickly memorize difficult repertoire, Dr. Meza immediately began challenging Sammy to reach new levels. After just a few months, Dr. Meza commissioned Sammy, still ten, to give his official piano solo debut concert in December 2013, which featured repertoire from Mozart, Brahms, Bach, Bartók, Clementi and Debussy.
With Dr. Meza fueling his competitive fires, Sammy began enrolling in competitions. In April 2013, at age ten, Sammy competed in the 12-year old division of the El Paso Music Teachers Association’s Irma Kluck Baroque Competition in El Paso and took second place. In May 2017, at 13, Sammy won first place in the El Paso Society for Musicians of the Future Competition in El Paso. Then, in February 2018, at 14, he won first place in the Junior Division of the Baylor/Waco Piano Competition in Waco, Texas, becoming the first El Pasoan to win this competition. In June 2018, at 15, he placed as a finalist in the Piano Solo Grade 9 Division of the Texas Music Teachers Association Competition in Waco. In November 2018 he received an award for his performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Regard de l’Esprit de joie” after competing in the finals of the Claudette Sorel International Piano Competition in Fredonia, New York. In February 2019 he won second place in the Senior Division of the Baylor/Waco Competition in Waco, Texas.
In the summer of 2019, Sammy will be attending the prestigious Curtis Institute Summerfest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where only 10 pianists are accepted from all over the world each year.
Sammy has so distinguished himself with his playing abilities that he has been called a “true artist” by Yamaha Artist Lara Downes and “the red-headed [Evgeny] Kissen” by Steinway Artist Dr. Bradley Bolen of Baylor University. Sammy is a recurring performer with the Bruce Nehring Consort of El Paso and is frequently featured at the Chamizal National Memorial Auditorium in El Paso. He also performs his music as a community service on a regular basis, donating time each year to play at area assisted living centers, children’s hospitals and churches.
Sammy has been homeschooled since second grade, which has allowed him to deeply pursue other subjects he is passionate about, such as languages, chemistry and astronomy. When not practicing piano or studying, Sammy loves playing baseball, for which he has received the honors of being named as an All-Star in Spring 2017 and as the Most Valuable Player of his team in both Fall 2016 and Spring 2017. He also is a member of the El Paso branch of King’s Kids, an international Christian youth organization with a focus on missions. Additionally, Sammy enjoys reading the Bible, playing basketball, viewing the night sky with his telescope, speed solving Rubik’s cubes and spending time with his family.