Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Eyes Wide Shut

As I hopped off the train yesterday morning, I encountered a young boy in his early twenties holding a long white stick seeking the right place to stand. I took his hand and led him to the spot right under the board on the platform that read ' Handicapped and Cancer Patients'. As I continued on my way, I thanked the Lord for the gift of sight that he's bestowed on us... and for the opportunity to do a good deed...

Early this morning, as I picked up my newspaper and glanced at the masthead, I realised that it is World Braille Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the blind man who invented the script for the blind named after him - Braille.

The first time I encountered the word 'blind' was possibly in the nursery rhyme... I'm pretty sure that's the first time my sons too encountered the word. We worked this out sometime in 2010 - Three Blind Mice.

As I grew up, I came across the word 'blind' pretty often with reference to my brother, just a year older than me, who lost sight in his left eye in a domestic accident. I got into a conversation with a lady at a Silver Wedding reception I compered last week. As she drew my attention to her scarred eye, she related how my mother (a teacher) reacted emotionally at seeing someone with the similar condition as my brother. More than 40 years since the accident, my brother is a senior professional in the marketing communications industry in Auckland and his handicap never ever hampered him. 

Close your eyes for a moment and think of all the blind people you may know... who have conquered their handicap... How many names can you come up with?

High on my list is that phemomenon guitarist and Latino singer, José Feliciano. This post celebrates other musicians like him who have been seeing with the Angel Eyes (Jeff Healey).

From guitarists to the more popular piano. And having just got into a New Year, the first song that comes to my mind is this hit from 1983 by Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You.

That was around the first time the Grammy Awards were telecast to us on television, that sparked a new stage trend of miming the music videos. We used to put up Grammy shows at the Summer Camp and even at our own little neighbourhood as part of the Christmas programme. I've done a Stevie Wonder on stage on a couple of occasions. 

His classic rocking motion seems to be common among similar blind singer-pianists. I came across this really fantastic album of duets with Ray Charles called Genius Loves Company. But his all time Greatest Hit is I Just Can't Stop Loving You.

While the world lost Ray Charles in 2004, the next artist in this feature is from Italy and the song I have for you right here is one of my favorite Spanish Love songs. I love to play it with the Bossa Nova rhythm on my Yamaha keyboard - Besame Mucho by Andrea Bocelli.

While I'm racing against the clock, I've got just one more more blind artist to honour in this post... A different artist, but the fact that she's a lady... possibly the most famous blind woman after Helen Keller. I'm talking about the jazz pianist and singer - Diane Schuur. Here's adieu with a fantastic duet with the legendary Ray Charles (already on this list)... they're singing It Had To Be You.

A long recording but a perfect one to end this post with... How many more famous blind people can you think of? Go ahead, fill in the comments below...

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