Visual impairment is sometimes seen as a handicap that keeps one from accomplishing their goals. Notwithstanding, numerous renowned blind artists have achieved a mind-boggling degree of success despite being outwardly disabled. But who are the most famous blind musicians?
The most famous musicians that are blind include Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Ronnie Milsap, Jeff Healey, José Feliciano, and Doc Watson.
Being blind hasn’t prevented these artists from succeeding and making wonderful music!
It’s fascinating to take note of the number of prominent visually impaired blind artists there that have been throughout the last century.
You could say that owing to their blindness, these individuals went to music to make their lives more significant. In any case, it was their vast gifts that made our own lives more meaningful too.
Here, we will check out 25 of the most renowned visually impaired artists who changed the music world.
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1. Stevie Wonder
One of the most prominent blind musicians of all time is Stevie Wonder, who was born six weeks early and his eyes never fully developed.
But that didn’t deter this child star from playing the piano, drums, and the harmonica.
At eleven years old, he accepted a record contract with Motown’s Tamla label, and by the time he was thirteen, he had one hit, “Fingertips.”
He recorded over thirty U.S. Top Ten hits and won 22 Grammy Awards (the most ever won by a solo artist in history). Wonder is still the youngest artist ever to top the Billboard Hot 100.
2. Ray Charles
Ray Charles is a talented musician who began losing sight at four years because of juvenile glaucoma, and by seven years of age, he was blind.
He learned to play the piano and had natural talent.
He educated himself on the basics and became a leader in soul music. In 1949, at nineteen years of age, Ray Charles delivered his most memorable single, “Admission Blues”.
Throughout his career, Charles composed nearly 200 melodies and began an organization for kids who are deaf or have hearing problems. He is considered one of the greatest artists of all time.
3. Andrea Bocelli
Frequently perceived as the loveliest voice in the world, Andrea Bocelli is an incredibly famous blind Italian opera singer.
He became popular during the 1990s during a performance at the 44th San Remo Music Festival.
He was viewed as a young wonder and a truly skilled performer. Bocelli could play the drums, flute, guitar, and saxophone. He has sold over 75 million records, including pop, classical, opera, and greatest hits.
4. George Shearing
George Shearing was a well-known self-taught jazz musician who was born blind and, at three years old, taught himself how to play the piano and the accordion.
He joined an all-blind band, made his first BBC radio broadcast in 1937, and published the hit song “September in the Rain” in 1949.
5. Diane Schuur
Grammy-award winner Diane Schuur is recognized for her jazz songs and plays blues, country, and gospel music.
Born premature and blind, she educated herself to play the piano at a young age.
Her voice grabbed the eye of Doc Severinsen in 1975, and Schuur was soon performing across the nation.
27 July, 11am
Hear works from Beethoven, Liszt and Chopin in an intimate 11am piano recital in the Eglise with Nobuyuki Tsujii.
Internationally renowned for his immense skills as a pianist, this is a must-see for piano fans.
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6. Nobuyuki Tsujii
Nobuyuki Tsujii is a splendid blind Japanese musician and writer.
Despite being blind, he had a characteristic ability to hear notes of a tune. At two years old, he began improvising on a toy piano.
This procedure of learning songs by ear makes Nobuyuki Tsujii an expert performer. He is an incredibly popular musician who has won endless honors and performs with ensembles all over the planet.
7. Art Tatum
Visually impaired in one eye and to some degree blind in the other, Art Tatum is a renowned jazz performer.
Even though he didn’t enjoy fame and kept away from the spotlight, his abilities affected the universe of jazz. He had an incredible ear and allegedly fantastic pitch. These gifts, alongside a superb memory, gave Tatum the skills expected for a successful music career.
It is said that he altered jazz with inventive harmonies and tones.
8. Terri Gibbs
Terri Gibbs is a country-turned-contemporary Christian artist with eleven recorded albums since her 1980 debut.
Gibbs’ musical sensations include “Somebody’s Knockin'”, which was No. 8 on the nation charts in 1980, “Rich Man”, “Ashes to Ashes”, and “Mis’ry River”.
She learned how to play the piano at three years of age and sang in the church choir early on.
9. Lennie Tristano
Leonard “Lennie” Tristano is America’s most prominent jazz performer.
Tristano was brought into the world with poor vision and became blind by ten. He learned to play the clarinet, drums, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, and piano.
Tristano fostered his affection for music into a long-lasting career and played in a few bands.
10. Marcus Roberts
Marcus Roberts is a well-known blind musician who is the child of another famous blind gospel artist, Coretta Roberts.
He showed himself how to play the piano when he was young.
Marcus Roberts and his band (The Marcus Roberts Trio) beat the numbers during the 1990s with jazz top picks, for example, “Gershwin for Lovers”, “Time and Circumstance”, and “Blues for the New Millennium”.
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11. Ronnie Milsap
American country music singer Ronnie Milsap was born blind from a genetic problem.
He had a troublesome youth; by 14, he had lost total vision in his left eye. Regardless, Milsap was attracted to music from the beginning and had a natural talent.
During the 1960s, he pursued a profession in music and presently is viewed as music’s most noteworthy musician.
12. Jeff Healey
Jeff Healey was a renowned Canadian guitarist and singer-songwriter who passed away in 2008 at 41.
Healy was visually impaired from retinoblastoma when he was one year old.
He went to a visually impaired school and learned how to play the guitar. This school is where he began playing the guitar in his lap, which would turn into his signature move.
The Jeff Healey Band became renowned in the late 1980s with the hit “See the Light”.
13. Raul Midon
Raul Midon and his twin brother, Marco, were blinded as newborns after being in an incubator without appropriate eye protection.
Midon went gaga for the drums at four and later concentrated on jazz music. Today, Midon is a famous jazz and Latin pop/jazz performer.
Midon began his profession as a studio vocalist for Latin artisans like Shakira and Julio Iglesias, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. He joined Manhattan Records and delivered his presentation collection “Perspective” in 2005.
14. Joaquin Rodrigo
At three years of age, Joaquin Rodrigo experienced Diphtheria and lost his sight.
Rodrigo was perhaps Spain’s most celebrated composer and musician during his career. He composed his most memorable piano composition when he was 23.
Rodrigo’s most famous piece was created in 1939 and is named “Concierto de Aranjuez.”
15. Rod Clemmons
A local of Arkansas, Rod Clemmons, was conceived blind.
Notwithstanding this mishap, he was an artistically gifted child who started playing piano at three. He proceeded to go to Indiana University Jacob School of Music on a full scholarship.
Today, he is a New York City-based R & B vocalist, lyricist, and producer.
Powerful graphic of BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON from a Columbia Records ad. There is just the one known photo of Blind Willie, as sublime and deep an artist as you will ever hear, by far the most popular and emulated singing guitar evangelist. pic.twitter.com/tdMpGDTIXQ
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16. Blind Willie Johnson
You may not know Blind Willie Johnson, but he’s considered one of the most talented musicians to play the bottleneck slide guitar.
Ace musicians like Eric Clapton and The White Stripes have since covered some of his songs, even though Johnson passed on poor and unnoticed.
Johnson didn’t allow the inability to see to interfere with his musical career.
In the last part of the 1920s, Blind Willie Johnson recorded 30 tunes that exhibited his deep voice and slide guitar capacities.
17. José Feliciano
José Feliciano is a Puerto Rican vocalist and composer, most famous for his Christmas hit, “Feliz Navidad.”
Though Feliciano was born blind, his musical gifts became clear around seven when he trained himself to play the accordion and sing.
As a young adult, he started his musical career performing in bars and clubs in major U.S. urban areas and Canada.
Louis Thomas Hardin, known as “Moondog”, began his melodic schooling by playing drums on a cardboard box as a youngster.
At 16, he lost sight in a farming mishap and trained himself to improvise and play music by ear.
Continuously looking for something new, he created many instruments, like, a three-sided molded harp known as the “Oo” and the Trimba, a three-sided percussion instrument, significantly affecting artists from varying backgrounds.
19. Blind Willie McTell
Blind from birth, McTell started to learn guitar in his initial years, affected by family members and neighbors in Statesboro, Georgia, where he grew up.
By 1927, when he made his most memorable records, he was at that point a highly accomplished guitarist with a warm and delightful vocal style.
His initial meetings delivered works of art, for example, ‘Statesboro Blues’, ‘Mother Tain’t Long Fo Day’, and ‘Georgia Rag.’
Perhaps not one of the most famous musicians on the list, but his influence has definitely been heard and felt by fellow musicians in the music industry.
20. Blind Lemon Jefferson
Blind from birth, Jefferson became a traveling musician as a youngster, learning a collection of prison tunes, blues, moans, spirituals, and dance selections.
His high voice, shouting style, and guitar strategy utilized melodically lead lines, twisted notes, and different effects. His verses and subjects became staples of the blues used by others.
He was one of the earliest Black society blues vocalists to make famous progress.
Sonny Terry – Whoee, Whoee (1984)
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21. Sonny Terry
Sonny Terry was brought into the world in 1911 in North Carolina as Saunders Terrell.
He is generally well known for playing the harmonica blended in with a particular vocal accompaniment. Terry figured out how to play the harmonica despite a youth mishap that left him visually impaired.
For over fifty years, Sonny Terry visited the United States playing folk and blues music. His cooperation with guitarist Brownie McGhee delivered what the two called “society blues” music.
22. Reverend Gary Davis
Maybe one of the most incredible gifts from the Piedmont Blues period, Reverend “Blind” Gary Davis is a stunning performer.
He’s a strong gospel and society blues vocalist and acoustic guitarist who trained himself to play the guitar and was in a string band as a teenager.
Musician, teacher, and preacher Reverend Gary Davis was a crucial figure in the American Folk Music Revival.
23. Doc Watson
For just about 50 years, Doc Watson, who died at 89, was the most celebrated name in traditional American music.
He was an eminent, unique guitarist and a vocalist of warmth and effortlessness. He additionally set endless artists making a course for professions in music.
Presumably, no artist of his time has received more prominent reverence and fondness.
24. Rudolf Braun
Rudolf Braun was an Austrian pianist and composer who was born congenitally blind.
He acquired his living nearly solely from music, and at age 12, he performed as a pianist at a Vienna Men’s Choral Society performance. He worked and composed music all his life and garnered much attention and fame.
Today, blind electronic dance musician Lachi uses her influential vocal repertoire not just to sing but to create awareness regarding disability inclusion in the arts.
She has worked with Snoop Dogg and Markus Schulz as a songwriter, vocalist, voice actress, and award-winning content creator.
She has been regularly communicating and performing at Disability Pride events since 2017 and supports disability inclusion within the Recording Academy.
L-R Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli & Rod Clemmons, some of the most popular Blind musicians of the past 50 years.
This rare picture was auctioned in 2019 at an event to raise funds for the National Blind Suitors (NBS), an institution that helps Blind men find love. pic.twitter.com/YDPx6rwo3f
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Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is the Most Famous Blind Piano Player?
When we discuss the most notable blind pianist, Ray Charles has to be considered the most famous and arguably the best blind piano player.
Charles has won worldwide praise for his musical talent with southern blues and gospel.
He is known to have established the groundwork of deep music; he has severe areas of strength for different performers. He learned one-hand development over piano by figuring out how to simultaneously peruse braille with another hand.
Who Is the Best Blind Musician?
One of the famous blind musicians that Ray Charles inspired and one of the notable visually-impaired black musicians is Stevie Wonder. He is a sensational artist, musician, and singer and has commanded respect for decades.
Stevie Wonder is depicted as a child prodigy due to recording his first single at the early age of 11.
He then had his first hit at age 12, and the hits just kept on coming. To date, he’s won 25 Grammy Awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. And he’s won the Grammy for Album of the Year a whopping three times, which only 1 other artist (Frank Sinatra) has done.
The names on this list are absolute proof that visual impairment doesn’t have to stop someone from learning and mastering a musical instrument or accomplishing greatness.
It’s moving to see the number of well-known blind performers that have accomplished extraordinary things in their careers.
Whether they turned out to be notable for playing an instrument or singing, these examples of achievement act as motivation for individuals who are confronted with comparable difficulties.