Cy Ridge alumnus performs at ReelAbilities Houston arts festival
Patrick Billette, a 2019 Cypress Ridge High School graduate, performed Harlem Nocturne and Take Five at the ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival. The showcase helps promote inclusion and celebrate the lives and talents of people with disabilities. It includes ReelMusic, held Feb. 23 at the White Oak Music Hall. (Photo courtesy ReelAbilities Houston)
March 20, 2023—Cypress Ridge High School graduate Patrick Billette recently performed at ReelMusic as part of ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival, which showcased talented artists who have overcome a variety of barriers to share their love of the arts.
Billette, a 2019 graduate, performed Harlem Nocturne and Take Five on the saxophone. The ReelAbilities’ mission is to help bring change to Houston institutions, places of work and communities to be more inclusive of people with disabilities.
“I enjoyed playing with the house band and I was proud to perform on stage in a large concert hall,” Billette said of the showcase event on Feb. 23 at the White Oak Music Hall.
The 10-day film and arts festival is produced annually by the JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion in collaboration with the mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. It uses arts as a vehicle to promote inclusion and celebrate the lives, stories and talents of people with disabilities. It includes an art exhibit, film festival, mental health night and music showcase.
Musicians come together on stage at ReelMusic, a showcase event as part of ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival. Patrick Billette, a 2019 Cypress Ridge High School graduate, was among the musicians to perform at ReelMusic, held Feb. 23 at White Oak Music Hall. (Photo courtesy ReelAbilities Houston)
Billette is a current student at Lone Star College—Tomball in the LIFEPath Program and plans to earn an associate degree in Occupational and Life Skills in May. He also attends Summerhouse Houston, a nonprofit organization offering community-based, employment and educational services to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and currently works as an administrative assistant at the Boral Agency.
He began playing the violin at 7 years old and later the saxophone at 10. Billette is a member of the Houston Sinfonietta Community Orchestra and the Gulf Coast Band. He performs regularly at retirement homes and has performed the National Anthem at events, including the Texas Special Olympics Summer Games.
“When Patrick went to school band instrument selection in 2010, he was unable to make a sound on any of the instruments, as all of the other students were doing,” said Kathleen Billette-Saul, CFISD behavior support specialist and Patrick’s mother. “The school’s band teacher said, ‘Maybe we should wait and start band next year.’ I too, wondered if he could ever be successful enough to enjoy music alongside his family and classmates. As if in response, he picked up a saxophone and approximated a tiny squeak. I replied ‘Nope, we're starting band this year.’ We are incredibly proud of Patrick’s musical journey, one he shares with great neurotypical musicians: talent, grit, and an unrelenting work ethic.”