SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — You might remember the story of a young boy who was the musical director at his Siouxland church when he was just 9 years old. He has already played at Carnegie Hall. He is now 16 and his talent has only grown over the years. We’ll catch up with him now on this week’s Siouxland Stories.

In a moment of spontaneity, playing a song he wrote, James Gate performed an encore for residents of Whispering Creek Senior Living.

“Through songs, you can speak your own emotions,” said James. “And through music, you can speak the composer’s feelings, and make them your own. I think that’s something really special.”

Something else that’s special is that James played at Whispering Creek when he was in elementary school.

“It always makes me feel so happy. My goal from when I was little, I play because I like it,” said James. “And I know, if I like it, others will enjoy it. Music is like this warm hug that embraces you. It’s just lovely.”

James said he’s felt that way for as long as he can remember.

As a child James had said that in the same way a lot of kids would want to play video games, he’d want to play the piano.

“I was definitely born with a gift. When I was little, I always liked fiddling around on a Fisher Price keyboard my mom got me,” James said. “When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I wanted lessons so my mom took me and started me with lessons.”

James said that the first competition he entered he had won.

“Eventually I went to my first competition. When I won that, the work that I put in, it pays me back,” said James. “Playing and performing those pieces for people as well, it’s always awesome.”

Sometimes James gets to perform with his little brother, Noah.

“It’s nice to have your brother play with you instead of somebody else. You also get to practice playing with them a lot. So it’s nice,” Noah said. “I think my goals are just to make people’s days and make them happier by playing music I think. And just to get better and play a harder repertoire and go with the flow.”

With the boys playing different instruments, they said that there isn’t the typical sibling rivalry you might expect.

“I wanted to play the piano but I didn’t want to do the same instrument as my brother. I wanted to switch it up a little. So then my mom gave me the idea to start doing the violin,” Noah said.

A complimentary instrument to his brother’s piano and something that he said that he enjoys listening to.

“My favorite thing is his personality, his funny jokes. I also like to listen to the songs he writes. You never know what your own brother could write and it’s really interesting to hear it and see if it’s happy or sad,” Noah said.

There was some sadness for James as he played a Chobin piece at Whispering Creek.

“For me, that piece has a really personal connection,” James said. “My piano teacher really liked that piece and worked with me a lot on that a few years ago, and she passed away. So that piece really speaks a lot to me.”

“I think that all these musics, they have something so joyous about them. In the composer’s eyes, they were going through struggles, just like we are in our lives. And to show that you’re not alone, and in the end, will work out,”

The brothers have found a way to play in front of large crowds without letting nerves get the best of them.

“Sometimes, when you’re playing in front of people, you can get a little nervous so you just have to either focus on your music, or you just accept that and if you play pretty good, the audience will like you,” Noah said.

“I wouldn’t say it’s quite in the head,” said James. “I feel like it comes from here. It’s this energy I feel, and I feed offf of and I give.”

When he couldn’t get or give that feeling during the pandemic, he turned to the digital world.

“During COVID and whatnot, there were a lot of issues with playing in person, I couldn’t play at all. Competitions, performances, all got canceled and that was really sad because I had so many plans and so many things that didn’t happen. That’s when I discovered the online world. So I did some concerts and all that. When Ms. Kissly passed away, I was kind of in a tough time, I built a kind of like a following,” said James. “Adults are like, you inspired me to start music, or you inspired my kid to start playing.”

Although James and Noah go to school now in Pennsylvania, they’re thankful for their Siouxland roots and to their mother, Liang, for her guidance and encouragement.

“I’m really thankful to my mom. When I was little, it wasn’t really her idea, I wanted to play,” said James. “It’s her who helped me develop and pushed me at times when I wasn’t feeling like practicing at times. I’m forever grateful for her and the mentors in my life.”

So what’s next? James said he has college on his mind now and as he looks to the future, finding a school that will give him musical opportunities is a top priority. As for Noah, he’s enjoying becoming a fisherman and playing golf with his older brother.