- Associated Press - Monday, May 8, 2017

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - Mitchell Griggs said he finds peace every time he plays the Native American flute.

The music is “relaxing, spiritual, magical,” he told The Jonesboro Sun (https://bit.ly/2pe9IAg ).

“When I play church hymns on it, it just puts the Holy Spirit in them,” Griggs, 31, said.

A friend introduced Griggs to flute playing seven years ago. He first learned to play a penny whistle, or tin flute, before switching to Native American flutes.

Griggs owns 20 Native American flutes, 12 of which he uses to perform. The flutes are of various sizes and wooden materials to produce different sounds.

He is self-taught, playing off and on until 2015 when he received a scholarship to take lessons with Brookland band teacher Terry Hogard to read music.

His favorite music to play is church hymns and gospel songs. His favorite song is “Amazing Grace.”

Griggs now enjoys performing at local churches and assisted living homes. He recently performed in the eighth annual Special Needs Music Concert.

It is his fourth year to perform in the free Jonesboro-based concert.

“It means a lot to me,” Griggs said. “It has helped me overcome my nervousness, stage fright. I used to not sing. I wouldn’t sing in church or around people, and now I am more confident or comfortable with it.

“I feel excited, blessed,” he added. “Anyone who wants me to play for them, I’ll play.”

Furthermore, his mother Sherrie Griggs said Griggs has gained a second family because the concert’s participants have become close. They cheer on and encourage each other. It is the same for their parents.

Sherrie Griggs and her husband Charles “Chuck” adopted Griggs when he was 15 months old in 1987. She said it was “love at first sight.”

“We were married 10 years before we adopted Mitchell. He was the answer to our prayers because we wanted a child,” she said, adding they were approached by family about possibly of adopting him. “He is so much like me and my husband.”

Griggs has learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He was also recently diagnosed with high-functioning autism after he approached his doctor with concerns.

“I’m real happy with the diagnosis because I know what is going on, and a lot of the biggest issues were anxiety and depression,” he said. “I now know how I can deal with it better.”

Griggs is a 2004 graduate of Weiner High School and has earned grounds keeping certification from the Hot Springs Career Training Institute. He has worked at Walmart for the past 12 years.

Despite his ADHD, Griggs said his focus has improved. When he is not performing, Griggs loves to read, play music, be with friends and bowl. He is also a member of Central Baptist Church’s Overcomers Choir.

Still, Sherrie Griggs said her son “lives and breathes to play his flutes.”

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com


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