The song "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X with Billy Ray Cyrus is the undisputed song of the summer so far, topping the BillBoard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks.
But while the song by the 20-year-old Atlanta rapper has been streamed and watched by millions, as well as played on radio stations across the world, one of its more impressive accomplishments may well be how it inspired an important transformation in the life of a four-year-old boy with autism in Minnesota.
By now you may have seen the viral video of Daniel Brundidge, a boy with autism who is mostly nonverbal, singing along with the lyrics to "Old Town Road." That moment, captured in a cell phone video by Daniel's mother Sheletta Brundidge, a producer with Entercom station News-Talk 830 WCCO in Minneapolis, was the first time Daniel had ever sung by himself, and represented a dramatic step forward in his language development. It has now been seen over 1.4 million times on Twitter alone, and has been carried by almost every local and national news outlet across the country.
On Tuesday, Brundidge, who hosts the Two Haute Mammas podcast, had the chance to thank Lil Nas X, whose given name is Montero Lamar Hill, directly, as the two spoke on air during a broadcast.
"The man who has given my son his voice, Little Nas X, is on the phone with us right now and I can't thank you enough for what you did for my baby," an emotional Brundidge told the rising artist.
"I want to thank you for sharing your story and letting everybody see. Everybody's destiny is intertwined.... let everyone have the feeling that there is always hope," Lil Nas X told Brundidge during the exchange, which occurred during the "Hey It's Cory Hepola" show.
Watch the full conversation here: (use the full screen option for the best experience)
Or listen here:
Daniel has been seeing a speech therapist for about three years before the "Old Town Road" breakthrough happened. His therapist, Jana Smith, had used songs as part of his sessions previously, but told 830 WCCO News Talk that what happen in the video was a "dramatic breakthrough" as far as his ability to communicate independently.
She credited both the "universal" power of songs like "Old Town Road," as well as Sheletta's patience and determination as a parent. She said she hoped that other parents with special needs children would one inspired by her and Daniel's story.