Published on July 30th, 2020 | by The Editor


Against All Odds: Musicians Who Defied Disability to Pursue Success

Whenever artists with disabilities hit the stage, they create a ‘wow’ factor in their audiences’ minds. They leave the stage, knowing that they have not only entertained the masses but have also left them with a critical message – their journey hasn’t been a walk in the park.

A majority of these artists had it rough when growing up. They had to fight a myriad of stereotypical statements, deal with endless discrimination, and prove to the world that disability is not inability.

Below are some of the musicians who overcame disability to attain massive success in their careers;

Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt was raised in a Romany camp in the outcasts of Paris, where he learned how to play violin and guitar. In 1928, at the age of 18, he was involved in a caravan fire accident, which left his left hand partially mutilated, and his right leg paralyzed.

After sometimes, he learned how to walk again using a cane, and retrained himself how to play guitar using the middle and index fingers of his left hand. He focused on Jazz Music and became a legend in this genre.

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Ludwig Van Beethoven is one of the greatest German Pianists and Composers. At 26, he began losing his hearing. This problem began with a form of tinnitus, which experts believe may have been caused by lead poisoning, typhus, syphilis, or a habit he had of submerging his head in cold water to stay awake.

This condition was devastating for his career since he could no longer perform for audiences. Nonetheless, this didn’t deter him from becoming a celebrated composer. One of his greatest works is the Ninth Symphony, which was hailed all over the world.

Tony Iommi

Tony Iommi is regarded as one of the pioneers of heavy metal. He lived with his family of Italian descent in Birmingham. While working in a metal sheet company, Tony accidentally cut off the tips of his ring and middle fingers on his right hand, something that posed a threat to his career as a left-handed guitarist.

As he continued with his work in the metal sheet company, the foreman played a song by Django Reinhardt, which lifted his spirits. He later learned that Django played guitar with two fingers, and this inspired him to relearn playing this instrument.

Even though his fingers hurt, he devised a new way to play guitar, and his name eventually found itself in the books of legendary heavy metal artists. He is most known as leading guitarist of Black Sabbath.

Ray Charles

Ray Charles became blind at the age of 7, due to a glaucoma. Nonetheless, he grew up as a commended music legend and genius. He introduced a soulful approach to country music, and this changed the way audiences perceived this genre of music during his time.

Apart from making music, he also appeared in man movies, including The Blues Brothers. His hit songs include Georgia on My Mind and Hit the Road Jack.

A movie about his life titled Ray premiered in 2004, starring Jamie Lee Fox. Ray Charles has a brief cameo on the movie, even though he passed away that same year and was unable to witness the biographical movie.

Teddy Pendergrass

Before suffering paralysis due to a car accident in 1982, Teddy was a lead singer for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

The accident that paralyzed him from the chest down didn’t stop him from pushing his career to greater heights. He continued to compose music, and most of his albums climbed up the charts faster than a winning team in the NBA.

Jimmy Scott

Jimmy Scott is, without a doubt, one of the most celebrated musicians of all time. He was born with Kallman’s syndrome, which thwarted him from reaching puberty. Instead of mourning a condition that adversely affected his social and psychological development, he took it as a blessing and used his high contralto voice to create hits that made him a legend of his time.

These musicians are just a few who have achieved generational success despite being disabled. They are a breed of people we should celebrate since they act as a motivation to many. Therefore, make sure you take a moment and listen to the tunes composed by these legends. Doing this will for sure change your attitude towards people with disabilities.

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