MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Music is good for the soul. It was also good for the body in the case of a world renowned Latin jazz musician.

“Music has been my best therapy during this whole entire process,” Ignacio “Nachito” Herrera, who lives in White Bear Lake, said.

During Herrera’s weeks-long battle with COVID-19 last year, he was intubated and in a coma. Doctors didn’t know if he would make it.

“I just went from being completely healthy to shot down,” he said. “I can’t remember anything.”

But he did wake up, and does remember the first time he tried to play piano again.

“Not to be able to play even a lullaby tune, not have synchronization between my left and right hand,” he remembered. “I said, ‘Wow.’”

READ MORE: Jazz Pianist Nachito Herrera Using Music To Heal After COVID-19 Fight

A year later the Cuban native is playing again, and he has recovered well.

“I’m completely sure Minnesota saved my life,” he said. “We have the most wonderful hospital and medical teams here.”

The musician has traveled the world for his jazz piano music but he was a regular at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in Minneapolis. Now a year after being hospitalized he’ll play again for the Dakota in a show set to stream online Wednesday night.

It may not be long before Herrera plays there in person again. The club’s founder said they’re hopeful for the return of live shows in late spring, or “as soon as it’s safe” to bring artists, their staff, and an audience back.

Herrera, who got his first COVID-19 vaccine dose this month, can’t wait.

“The Dakota is part of my therapy,” he said. “It is my house.”

Kate Raddatz