Top 10 Famous Blind Musicians in History

You do not need eyes to produce great music. These blind musicians are the perfect example of that. Some of the most famous musicians in history were blind. These musicians are singers or instrumentalists. In some cases, they are singer-accompanists. And they are all legally blind.

In a world where there is no shortage of deeply creative and talented musicians, today we will look at some with shortcomings.

But the best part about these musicians is they didn’t allow their physical shortcomings to limit their creativity and musical talent. Let’s take a look.

Stevie Wonder

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Most of us know his most famous song, I Just Called to Say I Love You. Born in May 1950, Stevie Wonder is an American singer, musician, and record producer.

The visually impaired musician got famous during the second half of the 20th century as one of the most successful songwriters and musicians.

He is a virtual one-man band, using his synthesizers and electronic musical instruments to produce music. In the 1970s, Wonder reshaped the conventions of R&B.

Blind shortly after his birth, Wonder was a child prodigy. He signed with Motown’s Tamla label at only 11 years of age.

At the age of 13, in 1963 his single Fingertips reached Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. His classic period started in 1972 and culminated in 1976, marked with his funky keyboard style and personal control of production.

During this period, Stevie Wonder made concept albums. He has sold more than 100 million records during his career, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. And he has won 22 Grammy Awards. In 1984, he won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the movie The Woman in Red.

Ray Charles

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Born in September 1930, Ray Charles was an American singer, songwriter, and composer. He died in June 2004. He preferred friends and fellow musicians to call him Brother Ray. And they often referred to him as The Genius.

He was blinded during childhood due to glaucoma but that didn’t stop him from achieving worldwide fame and popularity. He pioneered the soul music genre in the 1950s and then moved to pop music during the 1960s.

The blind singer reached Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with the 1960 hit Georgia on My Mind.

Frank Sinatra called him the “only true genius in show business”. He has won the Grammy Award 18 times during his life and career, five of them posthumously. In 1987, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rod Clemmons

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Rod was born blind, but despite the setback, he was a musically gifted child. He started playing piano at the age of only three years. He continued his career by attending Indiana University Jacob School of Music.

Today, he is an R&B singer, songwriter, and producer. He gravitated towards the piano from an early age.

His parents nurtured his gift for music and never left his disability to hamper his love for making music.

In 1988, he moved to New York City where he worked as a session player, vocal coach, and background vocalist. He has prepared singers to perform on Broadway for several years now.

After years of producing and preparing others, he finally released his debut R&B album What’s Up? It’s Me in September 2011.

Noboyuki Tsujii

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At the age of 20, in 2009, this Japanese musician became the first blind pianist to win the top prize at a major international competition. He won the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Born blind, Noboyuki developed his own technique for learning complex classical piano works. As of 2010, his discography includes 10 CDs.

Following his win at the Van Cliburn competition, Tsujii has continued to perform in concerts all over the world.

He was born blind due to microphthalmia and yet, he exhibited talent for piano and musical ability at a young age. Even at the age of two, he began to play Do Re Mi on a toy piano. He started studying the piano at the age of 4. And at only 7 years of age, he won the first prize at the All Japan Music of Blind Students.

The famous blind piano player learns new musical works strictly by ear. He has a team of pianists’ records scores along with specific codes and instructions written by composers. So, he listens to them and practices until he learns and perfects each piece.

But that doesn’t mean he copies them. He asks his assistants to make a special cassette tape for him.

Andrea Bocelli

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Widely regarded as the best duet singer, Andrea Bocelli is an Italian opera tenor and multi-instrumentalist. Born in September 1958, he was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma at 5 months old. He was completely blind by the age of 12 following a football accident.

Bocelli rose to fame in 1994 after he won the preliminary round of the 44th Sanremo Music Festival. He performed Miserere with the highest marks ever recorded in the newcomers’ section.

Since 1982, he has recorded 15 solo albums, three greatest hits albums, and nine complete operas. So far, he has sold more than 75 million records worldwide. And his song Con te Partiro remains one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Mohanan Chandrasekaran

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One of the most prominent blind musicians, Mohanan Chandrasekaran is a South Indian Carnatic blind musician. The violin maestro has received some of the highest awards in India.

With a musical career spanning more than six decades, Mohanan Chandrasekaran has traveled the world to perform in many music festivals.

Born in Calcutta in 1939, he began playing the violin at the age of 11. He then went to accompany musicians in the field of Carnatic music.

Critics consider him an expert in the laya (tempo) aspects, recognizing and adapting to intricate rhythmic patterns.

Ronnie Milsap

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Born in January 1943, Ronnie is an American country music singer and pianist. He was one of the most popular and influential musicians in the 1970s and 1980s. During his musical career, he earned the title of “most successful and versatile country crossover singer of all time”.

His songs appeal to both country and popular music markets. When he shifted his focus to crossover music in the late 1970s, he started getting Number 1 singles. From 1980 to 1983 he scored eleven Number 1 singles.

Consider this for a moment. He has remained one of country music’s best-loved and most successful artists despite the lack of radio play since the mid-1990s.

Jeff Healey

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Next on our list of blind musicians is Norman Jeffrey Healey, or Jeff Healey. The Canadian jazz singer and blues vocalist and guitarist gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.

He started playing the guitar at the age of 3. And since then, he has developed his unique style of playing the instrument flat on his lap.

At 15, the talented musician formed the band Blue Direction, which was a four-piece band playing at local clubs in Toronto. He then started hosting a jazz and blues show on the radio station CIUT-FM. There, he became famous for playing his massive collection of vintage 78 rpm gramophone records.

Diane Schuur

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Diane is the only female on our list of blind musicians. The female singer is an American jazz musician and pianist. As of 2015, she has released 23 albums. Diane expanded her jazz music repertoire, playing also Latin, gospel, pop, and country music.

She has performed in venues including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and the White House during her career. Diane has played with artists such as Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and Stevie Wonder.

She was born blind due to retinopathy of prematurity. But she has absolute pitch memory and a clean vocal tone, helping her to reach musical success.

Jose Feliciano

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The Puerto Rican singer and composer got famous for his Christmas hit, Feliz Navidad. To this day, there have been hundreds of covers to his famous song.

Born blind, he showed his musical talents at the age of seven. At the time, he taught himself to play the accordion and began singing.

Feliciano started his music career by performing in bars and clubs in major cities in the US and Canada. His music is famous for a fusion of styles, including jazz, Latin, soul, rock, and blues.

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