Blindness does not have to be a hindrance to success in the music industry, as many famous blinder singers have proven. While their visual impairment may have been caused by different things, ranging from genetics to accidents, these blind singers, with their undeniable talents, have achieved great things in music. Some of these famous blind singers include:
Ronnie Milsap is a country music singer and pianist who has won six Grammy Awards and had thirty-five No. 1 hits on the country music charts.
Ronnie Milsap had 35 number-one hits during his prime. Two of his most popular hits include “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me.” In 1976 and 1977, Country Music Association named him Male Vocalist of the Year.
Andrea Bocelli is an Italian tenor and multi-instrumentalist born in 1958. He is best known for his pop ballads and operatic singing style. Bocelli was born with a congenital disorder that left him visually impaired. He began to lose sight at age five, but he did not go completely blind until he was twelve due to a brain hemorrhage from a football accident. Despite his blindness, Bocelli learned to play the piano, flute, and saxophone.
Bocelli is best known for his crossover hit “Time to Say Goodbye” with Sarah Brightman.
Bocelli is also considered one of the most famous blind musicians.
Jose Feliciano first gained fame in the 1960s with his renditions of popular songs like “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Light My Fire.”
His style of playing the guitar with his teeth and fingers earned him the nickname “The Destroyer.” Despite his blindness, which congenital glaucoma caused, Feliciano has won five Grammy Awards and has been nominated for numerous others. He found his mainstream success in the 1960s with his superb blend of folk, bolero, flamenco guitar, and easy-listening pop music.
Clarence Carter was born blind in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 14, 1936. Despite his blindness, Carter developed into a talented singer and musician.
In the early 1960s, he began performing in clubs and bars in the Montgomery area. In 1966, Carter moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he met fellow musician Calvin Scott. Together, they wrote and recorded a song called “Looking for a Fox.” The song became a regional hit and led to a record deal for Carter with Atlantic Records.
Carter’s first album, The Dynamic Clarence Carter, was released in 1968. It included the hit single “Slip Away,” which reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Over the next few years, Carter released several more successful singles, including “Patches” and “Too Weak to Fight.” In 1971, he won a Grammy Award for his song “Patches.” Carter continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
In 2002, Carter was finally inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2003.
A blind American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and music producer, Paul Pena was born in 1950 in Hyannis, Massachusetts. He was almost totally visually impaired since birth and ill for most of his life. Despite his blindness, Paul Pena was a very talented musician. He even taught himself to sing in different languages, including Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese.
Pena became particularly famous for his ability to imitate the singing styles of other cultures. In 1975, Paul Pena won a Grammy Award for his performance of the song “Jet Airliner,” which he co-wrote with Steve Miller.
He also wrote and produced the album “New Train,” a Grammy nominee in the Best Engineered Recording category.
Paul Pena died in 2005, at 55, after a long battle with cancer.
Terri Gibbs is a country music singer from North Carolina. She was born prematurely and her blindness was due to retrolental fibroplasia due to retinal damage by the incubator. She started playing the piano at age three and had a successful career in country music, charting several singles on the Billboard country charts.
She is known for her hit song “Somebody’s Knockin’,” which reached the top of the country charts in 1980. She later returned to gospel music and has released Grammy-nominated songs, including “Unconditional Love” and “Promised Land.” Gibbs left singing to concentrate on her family and later returned to release only one album, No Doubt About It, in 2002 during her marriage with David Daughtry.
Doc Watson was born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, in 1923. He is a Grammy Award-winning artist who has played the guitar and banjo for over 50 years. Watson lost sight after an eye infection spread to his eyes at age one. Despite this, he learned to play the guitar and banjo by ear. He was influenced by many different genres of music, including country, bluegrass, and folk. Watson has released over 50 albums. In 2004, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Watson is not only a well-known singer. Many also consider him the most influential guitarist known for his Flatpicking guitar style and masterful fingerpicking technique.
Though he died relatively young, Jeff Healey was a highly influential figure in blues and rock music. He was born with retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer resulting in losing sight. Despite this, Healey went on to become an accomplished musician, playing both the guitar and trumpet. Healey first became prominent in the 1980s with his band, The Jeff Healey Band. The group had several hits, including “See the Light” and “Angel Eyes.” They also appeared in the 1989 film Road House, performing the song “Nobody’s Fool.”
In the 1990s, Healey began shifting his energy to his solo career. He released several successful albums, including Feel This and Hell to Pay. He also toured extensively, performing with legendary musicians like Eric Clapton and B.B. King. Tragically, Healey passed away in 2008 at the age of 41. However, his music continues to live on and inspire new generations of musicians.
Blindness has never stopped Stevie Wonder from making beautiful music. The legendary singer-songwriter is one of the most successful musicians, with hit songs like “Superstition” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” Wonder is a true pioneer in popular music, and you can hear his influence in the work of many contemporary artists. His condition was caused by retinopathy of prematurity, as he was born six weeks premature.
Despite his blindness, Wonder is a highly accomplished musician. He plays multiple instruments, including the piano, drums, and harmonica. He also writes songs, often about social issues like racism and poverty.
He is among the few musicians to have won Grammy Awards in multiple categories, including pop, rock, R&B, and jazz. You will find Wonder’s name in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Gilbert Montagné (born February 6, 1949) is a French singer, songwriter, and pianist. Unfortunately, a medical error caused his blindness due to an oxygen overdose in the incubator that burned optic nerves.
His father was a professional musician, and his mother was a piano teacher. Montagné began playing the piano at an early age. As a matter of fact, by six years of age, he was already performing in public.
Montagné has released nine studio, two live, and two compilation albums. His albums sold over 20 million records worldwide and won numerous awards, including three Grammy Awards and three World Music Awards.
In addition, he has been nominated for four Grammy Awards and four World Music Awards and was inducted into the French Music Hall of Fame in 2000. He is known for his hit songs “The Fool” (1974), “Don’t Cry” (1975), and “Going Home” (1980).
A pioneer in the genre of soul music, Ray Charles was a master of both the piano and the saxophone.
In 1930 in Georgia, USA, Ray Charles was born into a family of sharecroppers. He began to lose sight at age five due to juvenile glaucoma, and by age seven, he was completely blind. Amazingly, Charles taught himself to play the piano and saxophone. He later studied music at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
Charles rose to fame in the 1950s with his distinctive style of soul music. He had several hits, including “I’ve Got a Woman” and “What’d I Say.” He also collaborated with other famous musicians, such as Quincy Jones and Aretha Franklin.
Charles continued to perform and record until he died in 2004.
Hibbler was a baritone vocalist born in Tyro, Mississippi, in 1915 and born blind. Despite this, he had a successful career as a singer. He even recorded with Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Al Hibbler’s most memorable song is his rendition of the “Unchained Melody.”
Hibbler passed away in 2001, but his legacy as one of the most successful blind singers live.
Blind Lemon Jefferson
Blind Lemon Jefferson was an American blind blues singer and guitarist who recorded many songs during the 1920s. His style of guitar playing was very influential and helped to shape the sound of the blues.
Before he was popular, Jefferson taught himself how to play the guitar and began performing in local bars and clubs. His popularity grew in the early 1920s, and he soon started making recordings for the Paramount label.
His records were viral and helped to spread the blues throughout the United States. Jefferson continued to record and perform until he died in 1929.
Diane Schuur is a Grammy Award-winning American jazz musician. Born with Retinopathy of Prematurity, she was declared legally blind at age two. Diane’s career began in the early 1980s when she started singing and touring with Stanley Turrentine and Dizzy Gillespie. She has released over 20 albums, including her 1986 Grammy-winning debut album, Deedles. Diane has collaborated with several notable musicians, such as B.B. King, Quincy Jones, and Willie Nelson.
Diane’s music encompasses various genres, including jazz, blues, pop, and gospel. She has inspired other blind musicians, such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. She advocates for people with disabilities and has worked to increase accessibility in the music industry.
Diane continues to tour and perform internationally. In 2019, she released her latest album, Blues For Schuur.
Blind Willie Johnson
Willie Johnson is one of the most famous blind singers in history. He was born in 1897 in rural Texas and became blind after his stepmother threw lye in his face while fighting with his father. Despite his blindness, Johnson became a successful musician, playing both the guitar and the slide guitar.
He recorded several popular songs in the 1920s, and 1930s, including “Dark Was the Night” and “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning.” Johnson’s music was influential in developing both blues and gospel music. he is considered one of the most influential figures in early American popular music.
Music is for the soul. No matter what your preferred genre is, there is a singer out there that can touch your heart. Thank you for reading, and leave a comment below to let us know your favorite blind singers.