As long as it is a passion, not even blindness can stop a person from playing music. This concept is compelling as it conveys a strong message of no disability can prevent someone from pursuing his dreams. It makes people curious about how a person with a disadvantage can turn something into a masterpiece. It is somehow like watching a miracle. There are a number of blind musicians all over the world, but there are three who made it to the spotlight. What makes them extra special among others? What caused their disability?
3 Famous Blind Musicians Of All Time
Art Tatum was a renowned 20th-century jazz pianist. He was famous for his magnificent musical arrangements and profound pop standards revive. He was born in 1909 in Toledo, Ohio. He suffered from cataracts during infancy which then made him blind in one eye, and he could only see minimally in the other. Despite the disability, he taught himself how to play the piano, reading sheet music using the Braille system, and memorizing piano rolls and recordings. He also had some training at the Toledo School of Music.
Art Tatum was already famous locally during his teenage years, and at the age of 19, he played with Jon Hendricks at Toledo’s Waiters & Bellman’s Club. He then captivated the attention of jazz personalities Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, and his musical stardom began.
In 1943, Art Tatum formed a trio with Tiny Grimes (electric guitar) and Slam Stewart (double bass), and in 1944, played in a jazz concert at the Metropolitan Opera House. He also made a cameo role in the movie The Fabulous Dorseys in 1947. He died in 1956.
Sir George Shearing is another world-renowned jazz pianist who did not let a disability stop him from conquering the world of music. He was born in 1919 in London, and he was the youngest of nine children. Sir George was blind since birth. He studied music at the Linden Lodge School for the Blind for four years. He was outstanding and he won many university scholarships. He used to play the piano in a pub for $5 a week!
Sir George then became a part of an all-blind band in the 1930s and later became friends with the renowned jazz critic, Leonard Feather. Then, his first debut on BBC radio happened. He composed over 300 songs, and in 2007, the Queen of England knighted him. He had also played at the White House for three presidents. Sadly, he left us at the age of 91 due to heart failure.
Ronnie Milsap is another music legend with multiple Grammy Awards as a country music singer and pianist. He was born in 1943 in North Carolina and became blind due to a congenital disorder. Unlike most blind musicians, Milsap had a passion for country music as he grew up listening to it as well as gospel music. His teachers noticed his extraordinary talent at the age of seven.
Ronnie Milsap studied at Morehead State School for the Blind in Raleigh where he learned to play the piano, violin, and guitar. In 1964, he produced his first single “Total Disaster,” and it was in 1971 when Warner Brothers released his debut album. He had won the Grammys six times.
Clearly, among many others, these three gentlemen proved that there is no limit to what we can achieve. The only hindrance we have is the one we make in our minds. Being blind may be a disadvantage for some, but it allowed these three legends to see the world differently. They may not have the gift of sight, but it then gave them the gift of music.