Rio Grande Valley teenager, Damien Duque, has taken to the stage to raise autism awareness. Through his music, he connects with people all around the world to show them that they aren’t alone in their struggles.

In a KRGV interview, Duque revealed he started off spending every Saturday performing at open mic nights in Luna’s Coffee House and is now on his second album, Recovery II. Having high-functioning autism, Duque, also known as City of Dawn, said, “[I do all this]… To show people, including those who have autism, that they can do unique things [and] they can express it in whatever form of art.”

Damien Duque, who performs as City of Dawn, standing in an unfinished building next to Luna’s Coffee House (Photo by The Monitor)

Duque states that music has been therapeutic for him and he has chosen to share his talent with others in the hopes of helping them as well. He said, “I’ve received a lot of positive feedback among autism groups. Even individuals with autism [say] that they can… listen to my music and can visualize and do something with it.”

Seres Jaime Magana who hosts the open mic nights at Luna’s Coffee House has commented on the welcoming atmosphere in the crowd and Duque’s impact on the confidence of others: “A lot of people come and maybe don’t want to participate. But as soon as they see people like Damien come forth and just pour their heart out, even in spite of certain obstacles or whatever, they get inspired and they’re like, ‘I want to sign up too.'”

Hoping to continue to inspire others in the future, Duque said, “To bring light and hope for others, not just individuals with autism… but for individuals who fall under depression and anxiety. Just to feel that they’re not alone and that music can really give you the warmth and love and give you that healing.”

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