Boy with Autism Learns to Talk Thanks to Grammy Winner's Song. Gets to Thank Her in Person


Music and songs have always been known for their power to teach and influence, but there’s one song that changed a kid’s life in ways that are hard to describe.

“Picture,” by Kid Rock, featuring Sheryl Crow, was released in 2001. Noah Cummins was about 5 years old at the time.

But Noah hadn’t spoken his whole life. He was diagnosed with autism at age 2.

He made so little noise that his mom, Barbara, had to put bells on his feet so that she could find him in the house and hear him coming when she wasn’t looking. She didn’t know if he would ever talk, depending on the severity of his autism diagnosis.

But when he heard Kid Rock’s and Sheryl Crow’s song, there was a change in him. He would hum.

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His mom would listen to the radio in the car on their way to his various therapy appointments, and Noah would quietly match the pitches he heard. That was the start of his musical journey, and the beginning of how he would finally learn to speak.

One of those appointments was music therapy. He would try to sing the songs his therapists played, and there weren’t really any words, “but the pitch was so perfect,” Barbara said, “it sounded like part of the song.”

As therapy progressed, Noah eventually responded to questions by singing rather than speaking. And throughout this journey, Noah listened to his mom’s favorite songs in the car; the one she played the most was “Picture.”

One day, Noah wasn’t just humming the words. He was mimicking them, and it actually sounded like words. It was the first song he ever truly sang.

They listened to it as often as possible. “It was literally every single day,” Barbara Cummins said. “Every place we went. I was Sheryl Crow and he was Kid Rock.”

Now 21, Noah is a music major in college and you would never know he had speech problems as a child. He still loves Sheryl Crow, too.

And on Dec. 4, he got to meet her. Crow made an appearance to film “Christmas at Belmont,” and it included Nashville Children’s Choir, the Belmont Chorale, the University Orchestra, and Noah’s jazz vocal ensemble.

There were a bunch more, too, but what really matters is that Noah was going to be in the same place as Sheryl Crow. “I thought, ‘I am going to freak out and not remember my words,’ ” he said regarding just being in the same performance venue as her.

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But then his ensemble got a photo op with the Grammy winner. He tried to be calm and not cause a fuss, but then everyone stopped Crow before she left and told her that their friend had a story to share.

Completely unplanned, it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for Noah, and Crow asked to video the story. See it below, but you may want to have some tissues nearby!


“I don’t remember it at all because I was so shocked,” Cummins said in an interview after the fact. “It was super amazing.”

Congratulations, Noah, and hopefully you can sing a duet of “Picture” with her in the future!

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