The (Strangest) Song
One Father's Quest to Help His Daughter Find Her Voice
Publication Date: October 2, 2006
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This is the first book to tell the story of Williams syndrome and the extraordinary musicality of many of the people who have it. Interweaving science and the personal in a compelling narrative, author Teri Sforza follows the quest of biochemistry professor Howard Lenhoff to help his mentally handicapped daughter, Gloria. From his discovery of Gloria’s outstanding vocal talent and innate musical gifts, Lenhoff becomes convinced that people with her disorder have an unusual capacity for learning music, despite their profound mental disabilities. Lenhoff is at first rebuffed, called obsessive, and finally vindicated when scientists—and his own formal research—confirm his hunch.
Williams syndrome is a rare genetic aberration that occurs once in every 7,500 births. It springs from a peculiar mishap on the molecular level, a tiny chemical error, but one that exacts an enormous toll on body, brain, and personality. The result is an atypical body and a profoundly asymmetrical mind. Thanks to Howard Lenhoff’s single-minded determination and love for his daughter, he succeeds in helping his daughter beyond his wildest dreams. Gloria’s talents take her to a concert at Washington’s Kennedy Center and a number of classical recordings. Lenhoff also helps establish the first residential college for mentally disabled musicians in Massachusetts.
An inspiring blend of human interest and breakthrough science, The Strangest Song offers startling insights into the mysteries of the brain and hope that science can find new ways to help the handicapped.
Teri Sforza (Laguna Beach, CA) is a senior writer at the Orange County Register, where she contributed to its Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of fertility fraud at the University of California Irvine and covered the largest municipal bankruptcy in America's history. She is the winner of an Associated Press News Executives Council award for public service reporting and a Lowell Thomas prize for travel writing.