JUAN MANUEL PINEDA
It all began in a small El Salvadoran village in 1987.
It’s the story of a boy born with a cleft palate to a father he never met and a mother who tried to raise him in dirt-poor conditions.
It’s the story of a boy whose home caught fire when he was three years old and he burned his legs so badly that they were amputated at the hip.
It’s the story of a boy who lost his mother to illness when he was only nine years old and was left on the streets to fend for himself.
It’s the story of a boy who came to an orphanage called Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), where compassionate people loved, raised, educated and introduced him to music.
Music Has Legs is based on a true story, told from the perspectives of three people who came together to change the life of Juan Manuel Pineda. Juan was born in El Salvador, into abject poverty with a cleft palate. As a toddler, he lost his legs in a tragic house fire. By the age of 10, he was alone, an orphan begging on the streets.
But that is where Juan’s story begins. Eventually, Juan would be found and taken in by Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), the orphanage he would call home and where he would discover his musical talents. Later, he would be found again, this time by Shriners Hospital in Chicago, whose doctors would repair his face and fit him with new legs. Juan would also be found by a Chicago musician and music producer who would record his songs. And all of this would happen with the help of a family in Chicago.
In the end, Juan would have a new smile and a new extended family. He would appear on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, perform a concert at the Park West in Chicago and record a CD of his original music.
The book is complete and uniquely told from the perspectives of the priest — his primary and often sole advocate -- who was on the ground in El Salvador, the boy who was his companion during all the trips to Chicago, and the American business owner and mother whose family took both of them into her home as this journey of healing and hope played out.