STAR TRACKS

STAR/TRACKS- American Blues legend Johnny Winter dies in Switzerland at age 70 following performances in Austria. He and his brother Edgar are among the elite Blues guitarist of the 20th. Century. Since 1988 he has been in the Blues Foundation Hall Of Fame. To learn more about Johnny and view a video scroll down to artist 38 on the list.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Musicians with Disabilities Top 25 Americans


1. Introduction
Musicians with Disabilities - The Top 25 Americans
Handicapped musicians, physically challenged musicians, mentally/emotionally challenged musicians, musicians with disabilities, its all the same, a serious inconvenience to finding success in life. These are the Greatest, Best, Most Famous or the Top 25 American Musicians with Disabilities of the Electrofied Era*. They had an extra hurdle to leap to find success.The musicians on this list have had to cope with, being Bipolar, having Polio, permanent disabling injuries, Birth Defects, Multiple Sclerosis, Blindness, Hearing loss, Speech impediments, Spina Bifida, Albinism, Lupus, Asthma, Anorexia Nervosa, Dyslexia, and Vitiligo. These musicians have found it within themselves to say, "YES, I CAN".  They have pushed themselves to the limit and have beat the odds.  They are not only an inspiration to people with disabilities but are also an inspiration to those facing what seems to be overwhelming odds.  They all have experienced and understand failure, but have refused to accept the word, can't.  If you are looking for hope and inspiration you have come to the right place.  These people and their music can and will provide both.

2. Directory
     1. Introduction
       2. Directory
       3. Electrofied Era
       4. Site about Blind and Visually impaired musicians
       5. Top Forty
       6. Top 25 with Videos
       7. Honorable Mention

3. Electrofied Era
 *The "Electrofied Era" is the result of the profound impact of electricity and electronics on the writing, creation, performance, recording, dissemination, and storage of music. It transcends all  genres by encompassing them.  The Eectrofied Era spans the years 1940 to the present.    
For more on the Electrofied Era CLICK
100 Most Important American Songs

4. Site about the Blind and Visually Impaired Musicians For more information on Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians



5. TOP 40

40. Paul Pena (1950 - 2005) - Blind
He has a history in Jazz, Folk, Blues and Rock 'n' Roll. He graduated from the Perkins School for the Blind and attended Clark University.  He is best remembered for writing the song "Jet Airliner" which the Steve Miller Band turned into a mega hit. He recorded with stars like Bonnie Raitt and Jerry Garcia (Graetful Dead) among-st others.
For more on Paul Pena CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians
  
39. Reverend Gary Davis (1896 - 1972) - Blind
He lost sight very early in life.  He was highly regarded for  his Ragtime, Blues and Gospel guitar work. He was equally capable on banjo.  In the mid thirties he converted to Christianity and became a Baptist minster.  He backed away from playing the Blues.  When the Electrofied Era began in 1940 he was performing Gospel in Churches and on streetcorners in New York.  In the 1950's he began to seriously record.  There have been three dozen albums produced of his music. From the fifties to near the end of his life he also taught guitar.  
For more on Rev. Gary Davis CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

38. Johnny Winter - Albinism (photophobia)(1944 - 2014)
He is a Blues/Rock guitarist and singer.  He has well over a dozen albums to his name and numerous others as producer for other artists.  He has worked with many of the biggest names in the music industry.  He performed at Woodstock. Some of the people he worked with were Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Muddy Waters. He also performed with his brother Edgar. He has produced several Grammy Award winning albums.  His older brother Edgar is also on this list.
For more on Johnny Winter CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

37. Doc Watson (1923 - 2012) - Blind
Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson is a musicians musician. He is an eight time Gammy award winner. This includes the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. He has over 50 albums to his credit.  He is not well known outside of the South except in professional musicians circles where he is highly regarded.  He has helped to keep popular, Southern music art forms. He is most famous for his guitar styling and his work in Bluegrass, Country, Gospel and the Blues. He attended the Morehead (North Carolina) School for the Blind. He is the recipient of the National Medal of Arts, presented to him by President Bill Clinton.
For more on Doc Watson CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

36. Jimmy Scott a.k.a. "Little " Jimmy Scott - Kallmann's Syndrome
His medical disability has both hurt and helped Jimmy in the music industry.  It has helped in that it prevented him from reaching puberty and as a result he has an unusually high contralto voice. This condition has profound effect on the sociological and psychological development of the person coping with the genetic disorder.  The failure to mature sexually is a problem that the vast majority of the population can not grasp, making it difficult for a person with the problem to fit in society. The ailment results in the loss of smell and can cause deformities.  He faced the challenges and became a highly respected Jazz vocalist performing with some of the biggest names in the business, Lou Reed, Lionel Hampton and Wynton Marsalis to name a few.

35. Ginny Owens - Blind
She is a Christian/Gospel singer. Ginny has a degree in music education from Belmont University.  Her music has been featured on the television series "Felicity" and "Roswell".   She has over a half dozen albums to her credit. The Christian music industry has awarded her three Dove Awards.
For more on Ginny Owens CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians
            
34. Vic Chesnutt - (1964 - 2009) paralyzed and wheel chair bound
He has is best known for Country.  He was severely injured in a car accident that basically left him wheel chair bound. It did not stop him from being a singer/songwriter. Some of his material was very dark in tone and other songs were mysterious in nature, but what they all were, just plain good.

33. David Sanborn - Polio
VIDEO - Chicago Song
Today Polio is a ll but eradicated in the United States and the industrialized world.  That was not the case when David was a young child.  Polio attacked his chest and he is lucky to have survived. It restricted his ability to breath.  He took up the saxophone to improve his breathing. Today, Jazz, and the world is blessed by the music of a man who said, "I Can'.

32. Art Tatum  (1909 - 1956) - Blind
Art was not totally blind.  His vision was little more than light perception. At a very early age he taught himself to play the piano. Both parents were skilled musicians. During his high school years he attended the Ohio School for the Blind.  He studied braille and music. He has over four dozen albums to his credit.  His piano styling has had a lasting impact on Jazz musicians.   He is noted for his impressive speed playing of the piano. he has been inducted into the The Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame  He has been called  "The Greatest Jazz Pianist of all time". He was honored after his death by being given the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 
For more on Art Tatum CLICK
1. Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians
2. Drugs, Booze, Death - American Musicians   

31. CLAY WALKER - Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
VIDEO - Fall
A degenerative disease that often results in death.  It has in recent years become more of a chronic disease that is manageable but remains potentially dangerous. For a musician that leads a frantic lifestyle on the road this is a disease that can restrict a popular artist from meeting obligations and performing to top ability.  Most people would not even try.  Clay is another of a multitude of minorities that perform Country music which runs counter to the the stereotype of Country music. Clay is clearly a fighter.

30. Clarence Carter - Blind
He attended the Alabama School for the Blind and earned a degree in music from Alabama State College. Like the Blind Boys of Alabama, he had to contend with segregation and racial discrimination early in his career.  He gained his fame in the Blues genre. He had the hits "Patches", "Slip Away" and the mobile DJ favorite "Strokin". The 1991 "Strokin' was not a true blues song.  It was much closer to Disco which is ironic in that some believe that Disco nearly killed Carter's career.
For more on Clarence Carter CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

29. TERRI GIBBS - Blind
VIDEO - Somebody's Knockin'
Country music star that also performs Gospel.  As a youth she had the vision of becoming a recording star.  Blindness was an inconvenience not a roadblock. She has faith in herself and in God. She has not only over come her disability but she also gives back to the community with her time and talent.
  Her Hits included "Somebody's Knockin'", "Rich Man", "Mis'ry River", "I Wanna Be Around", and "Anybody Else's Heart But Mine". 
For more on Terri Gibbs CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

28. Diane Schuur - Blind
Two time Grammy award winning Jazz singer. She was a student at the Washington State School for the Blind. While she was self taught on the piano, at the school she got a formal education in music. She has had several hit albums in the Jazz genre.  While Jazz is her forte, she has performed in nearly every popular genre.
For more on Diane Schuur CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

27.  RYAN ADAMS - Hearing Impaired
VIDEO - Wonderwall (Live)
He is a Country music star challenged with hearing loss.  In a field where singing on pitch and being in the right key is important so to then is hearing.  Adams did not let his disability stop him. He has helped to broaden the appeal of Country/Rock.

26. SAMMY DAVIS Jr.- Blind in one eye

VIDEO - Candy Man (Live)
Some would say he had three strikes against him. He was Black, Jewish and Blind in one eye.  He sang, "The Candyman can," and he did.  He could belt out a Pop Standard with the best of them. He was a member of the notorious "Rat Pack".  Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin they set the standard for entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip. Perhaps more than any performers they saved Pop Standards from extinction during the crushing assault of Rock 'n' Roll. He like the others in the "Rat  Pack" was doing Television, and films to help keep his career alive. The "Rat Pack" was multi-talented, able to act, sing and dance.  They were also comedians. Some of his were "Hey There, "That Old Black Magic",     "What Kind Of Fool Am I", "The Shelter Of Your Arms", "I Got To Be Me", and "The Candy Man". He can be heard on over 50 albums.  
For more on Sammy Davis CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians



6. TOP 25 WITH VIDEOS

25. BILL WITHERS - Stuttering
Video - Ain't No Sunshine
When it came to getting the word out he did.  The "Lean On Me" guy over came his speech impediment to become a successful singing star. He learned that when striving for success that "to know" is, and "no" is not the answer. There are few who can equal the soulful vocals of this talented and determined artist.


24. Itzhak Perlman - Polio
VIDEO - Schindler's List
He was born in what is today Israel. At age four he contracted Polio and lost the use of his legs.  By age 13 he immigrated to the United States. He had studied the violin in Israel.  In The U.S. he did further study at Juilliard.  He has become one of the worlds greatest violinists.  He travels the world performing.  He was awarded the Medal of Liberty by President Ronald Reagan and President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Metal of Arts. Beside being one of the world's greatest violinist he is also one the most respected teachers of the instrument. His work has required him to live and work in numerous countries.  he has been called "A Citizen of the World".   

23. AL HIBBLER - Blind
Audio - Unchained Melody
He had a string of hits performed in the Pop Standard style.  The religious themed "He" and the secular "Unchained Melody" were big hits for him and latter for the Righteous Brothers.  He set the standard.  While he could not see he was not "short sighted" and forged a path to success. Al was one of the last of the great Pop Standard crooners before Rock 'n' Roll nearly destroyed the genre. He was a dedicated activist for civil rights. He had nearly 20 albums to his credit. 
For more on Al Hibbler CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians
100 American Pop Standards songs 60 and 5.

22. Sir George Shearing, OBE - Blind
He was born in England (United Kingdom) and attended a school for the blind.  He, as an adult immigrated to the United States following World War II.  He became one of the world's greatest jazz composer and musician.  He recorded around 100 albums. He is best remembered for the song "Lullaby of Birdland". He is among the Top Ten Blind American musicians. He literally invented the modern Jazz quintet sound melding The piano, Vibes, electric guitar, bass and drums, with the piano (doing lead), vibes and electric guitar playing melody in harmony with the piano. He had joint citizenship in the United Kingdom and the United States.
For more on George Shearing CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians
See Artist #8 on the list.

21. ROSEMARY CLOONEY - Bipolar
Video - Come On-A My House (Live - 1981)
While most of us have our "ups" and "downs" the bipolar/Manic-depressive can have massive mood swings that can inhibit them from doing their work and living a normal life.  It is more than just coping with days of feeling really good and days of being severely depressed.  It can profoundly effect matters of judgment, concentration, and decision making.  A break down in the late 1960's due to her bipolar condition lead to her being hospitalized for several years.  She ultimately returned to record and perform again.  After her hospitalization she recorded and released over 25 albums.  Most artist would be happy to have a dozen albums in a lifetime. She was one of the consummate female Pop Standards and Jazz singers of the 20th. century. Yes, her nephew is actor George Clooney.
 
20. EDGAR WINTER - Albinism (Photophobia)
 VIDEO - Frankenstein
The song "Frankenstein" was one of the most popular instrumentals of the 20th. Century making The Top 100 American Instrumentals. Albinism is the lack of pigmentation in the skin and hair.  This also means in the Retina of the Eye. Lack of pigmentation frequently means poor visual acuity and photophobia.  When people think of visual impairment, they think of reduced visual acuity.  They are right, but they also think that more light is needed in many cases for a person to see clearly.  People with photophobia usually need less light. Edgar Winter performs on stage with intense light aimed at him and his band.  People in the audience are flashing cameras.  All of this can be very painful to the eyes. Photophobia usually means the more light the less you see.  It is similar to an over exposed photo in which you can't see anything.  Bright stage lighting can create "White Blindness" it can also be painful. Edgar is credited with having come up with the idea of putting a strap, like a guitar strap, (see video) on an electronic keyboard.  This idea gave the keyboardist more flexibility when it came to being a stage entertainer. He has nearly 20 albums to his credit. Some of his singles were "River's Risin'", "Free Ride", "Frankenstein",and "Hangin' Around". His biggest LP's were "They Come Out At Night" and "Shock Treatment".
For more on Edgar Winter and this song CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians
Top 100 American Instrumentals

19 Bret Michaels - Diabetes
VIDEO - Every Rose Has It's Thorn
He is a multi-talented entertainer who is a singer-songwriter, director, actor, screenwriter and reality TV star. He was the front man for the Rock band Poison and is perhaps best known for the song "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". He has several albums as a solo artist. He has had diabetes since the age of six.  He was injured during the Tony Awards show in 2009 and has survived a brain hemorrhage since which he said was caused by the incident at the Tony Awards. He gives of his time and talent in support of our troops and their families.  He has also raised money for the American Diabetes Association.

18, HANK WILLIAMS - Spina Bifida        
VIDEO - Hey Good Lookin'
He virtually created modern Country music during the Electrofied Era.  He profoundly influenced the emergence of Rockabilly and thus Rock 'n' Roll.  His songs have been recorded by the biggest names in music, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.  Spina Bifida is a painful ailment as the result of a birth defect where the spine does not properly close. There is often intense pain associated with it.  Other common problems associated with it are poor bladder and bowl control.  Depending on the severity of the birth defect it can cause problems with the legs and pelvic area which can result in restricted mobility. For more on Hank Williams CLICK
100 Most Important American Songs see song 39.
Drugs, Booze, Death - American Musicians

17. JOHNNY RAY - Hearing Impaired
VIDEO - Just Waling In The Rain
He is most famous for the songs "Cry" and "Walking In The Rain".  He foreshadowed the coming Rock Era.  He did not let his hearing impairment keep him from singing.  Some have speculated that it contributed to his singing style.  He sang full voice (power vocals) nearly all the time and often definitively split words up by their syllables. This helped to create a unique singing style that separated him from the other crooners of the day. Power vocals would become a trademark for Rock singers. When viewing the video notice the hearing aid.
For more on Johnny Ray CLICK
100 American Pop Standards see song 169
Drugs, Booze, Death - American Musicians

16. JOSE FELICIANO - Blind
VIDEO - Feliz Navidad (Live)
Born a Puerto Rican/American and blind, Jose has become one of America's best known entertainers internationally. He has a strong following in Europe and especially in Latin America.  When people think of great American guitar artists they think of Duane Eddy, The Ventures, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie VanHalen and others, over looking one of the truly great guitar artist, Jose Feliciano.  He belongs in the upper echelon of the great guitarist of our time. His version of the national anthem performed at Tiger Stadium in Detroit in the late 1960's was controversial at the time but has become recognized as one of great interpretation's of the song.  In the United States he is best known for his million selling hit "Light My Fire" and the Christmas classic "Feliz Navidad"  He has over 50 singles and over 50 albums to his credit. He helped to mainstream Latin music influence on Rock 'n' Roll. Some of his singles were "Chico And The Man", "Light My Fire", "Goin' Crazy", "Suzie Q", "Hi-Heel Sneakers" and "Hey Baby".
For more on Jose Feliciano CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

15. PAUL STANLEY (KISS) - Physical Deformity and Hearing Loss
Rock "n" Roll All Nite by KISS (Paul Stanley- star on right eye)
He was born with microtia which resulted in the right ear not developing properly and leaving him deaf in that ear.  This also meant a deformed ear which left him open for ridicule and teasing. Paul faced several hurdles in rising to stardom as the front man of KISS. He had a mentally ill sister and parents which were not always supportive of his goals.  The deformity and hearing loss were such a problem he devised a plan to not only cope but to succeed.  He set out to make one small success after another building courage and confidence with each little victory in life. He became one of America's premier Rock singers. He also became a songwriter, painter, and author. He clearly believes "Can do" beats "Can not" by one bite at a time. Some of the songs KISS is best known for are "Beth", "Rock 'n' Roll All Nite", "Forever", "Calling Dr. Love", "Christine Sixteen", "Detroit Rock City" and "Hard Luck Woman".  Paul is in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as a member of KISS. They were inducted in 2014 and it was long over due. 

14. MEL TILLIS - Stuttering
VIDEO - Coca Cola Cowboy
Country music opened their doors to let him in, but like any area of business he had to prove himself.  Stuttering was a problem for Mel Tillis from childhood.  His speech impediment did not hurt his ability to sing, but clearly he had to convince people he could sing. Personal appearances and radio and TV interviews would also be a problem. He has over come, and can be proud that his daughter Pam Tillis has had a successful singing career.

13. KENNY G. - Asthma
VIDEO - Songbird
Playing a wind instrument requires the full power of the lungs.  If you have asthma that can be a real problem.  You never know when an attack will occur or how severe it will be.  Touring and performing in different venues exposes the asthma suffer to all kinds of unknown hazards. To become a world famous recording artist with asthma is a great accomplishment, but one who has done it playing a wind instrument is an even greater achievement. Since the heyday of Duane Eddy, Henry Mancini, and the Ventures the instrumental has found little success in the popular music world.  Kenny G. nearly single handedly brought it back  For more on Kenny G. click
100 American Pop Standards see song 85.

12. RONNIE MILSAP - Blind
VIDEO - Smokey Mountain Rain (Live in Branson, MO.)
Born with a visual impairment Ronnie soon lost all vision and entered the state school for the blind in North Carolina.  Ronnie believed excessive disciplinary measures left a lasting impact on him, but the school promoted the development of his musical talents. He learned the basics of music theory by studying classical music.  He listened to Country, Gospel and R&B radio.  Ronnie attended a college briefly before leaving to become a professional musician. He worked with some of the biggest names in music, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Elvis Presley.  He played piano on Elvis Presley's hit song "Kentucky Rain". Despite coming from abject poverty and blindness he has succeeded. Most people don't know that his first recordings were in the R&B/Soul music field.  Finding little success there he turned to Country, where he found a home. He had a string of blockbuster Country hits with several crossing over into Pop/Rock. He is very versatile.  Ronnie released an album of Pop Standards "Just For A Thrill" which included great versions of "Teach Me Tonight" and "I Don't Want Nobody To Have My Love But You".  His hit "Lost In The Fifties Tonight" displayed his ability to perform Doo Wop styled Rock. He has had over forty Top Ten singles in the country genre.  He has also released over forty albums. He did not let poverty, blindness, his mother's desertion of him, or music stereotyping keep him from finding his full musical talent. Some of his hits are "Smokey Mountain Rain", "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me", "Any Day Now", "Stranger In My House", "Make No Mistake, She's Mine" (with Kenny Rogers, "He Got You", "Day Dreams About Night things", "(I'm A) Sand By Your Woman Man", "It Was Almost Like A Song" and "Only One Love In My Life".
For more on Ronnie Milsap CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

11. MICHAEL BOLTON - Hearing Impaired
Video - How Am I Supposed To Live Without You
Being deaf in one ear has not stopped him from becoming one of Americas most popular singers of the last half of the 20th. Century.  Michael's career began in Hard Rock, but his blending of the Hard Rock ballad with Jazz styling and a strong Soul component created a unique Pop Standard delivery. He performs at fundraisers for charities that raise money to combat hearing loss and to help those who have it. For more on Michael Bolton CLICK
100 American Pop Standards see song 31.

10.   apl.de.ap (Alan Pineda Lindo Jr.)  of The Black Eyed Peas - Legally Blind
VIDEO - Boom Boom Pow
He is a Filipino/American .  Those that are legally blind live in a no mans land.  The world views people as either sighted or blind.  Trying to comprehend the gray in-between is difficult because there are so many variants.  Peoples expectations of what you can or cannot do are constantly being challenged by reality. When you succeed at something they think you are faking your blindness and when you fail at something they think you are using your vision as an excuse not to do things. Alan has for the most part been able to over come the misperceptions of his visual capabilities and he has come to terms with his visual limitations.  He has forged ahead to be the successful Rapper for one of the most successful American bands in the last fifteen years.
For more on apl.de.ap (Alan Pineda Lindo Jr. CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

9.  TONI BRAXTON - Lupus
VIDEO - Un-Break My Heart
Toni Braxton is one of the must famous people with Lupus. This debilitating disease is where the person with it usually looks the picture of health.  Toni has the most dangerous form of Lupus (SLE - Systemic Lupus) in which the auto-immune system attacks the body.  The heart, lungs, joints, kidneys and the central nervous system are common targets. Lupus is a serious chronic disease that can be life threatening.  It is very difficult to plan ones life.  The Lupus patient ability to function, fatigue and pain levels, can change hourly or they can be fine for weeks, months even years and then all of a sudden they are knocking on heavens door.  There is no known cure and the medications are often fraught with serious hazards.  Most sufferers experience pain and many with very high levels. Toni has experienced some of the more traumatic aspects of the disease.  She has suffered from pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining of the heart. It is painful and life threatening. The disease is very difficult to diagnose and many people go for years before finally being accurately diagnosed. Ultra violet light, florescent lights and sun light, is potentially dangerous and have been known to cause the disease to flare up. The recent banning of incandescent lights will make life more difficult for people with Lupus that are impacted by Ultra Violet light. Touring and performing will be a constant problem for Toni and could even be life threatening.

8.  KAREN CARPENTER (Primary vocalist of the Carpenters) - Anorexia Nervosa
Video - We've Only Just Begun
Karen was a very successful singing star with more than just a few hit songs. Some of her hits were "(They Long To Be) Close To You", "We've Only Just Begun" and "Hurting Each Other". Anorexia  Nervosa is referred to as an eating disorder, but is more of a physiological disorder.  There is as of yet no clearly defined cause for the problem, but there has been some studies suggesting a genetic link.  Treatment is difficult, because in general it has to be tailored to the individual and there are no all purpose drugs.  Effectiveness of treatment varies from patient to patient. It is difficult for doctors as well as the patient. It is generally believed that this disorder was in part responsible for her untimely death at age thirty two.
   
7.  CHER - Dyslexia (DRD)
 VIDEO - Believe
Cher has had a long and illustrious career.  Success as a singing star began in the mid 1960's as a part of Sonny & Cher.  She, and her partner and latter husband Sonny Bono, had a string of hits.  By the mid seventies their marriage began to fail.  She continued her career as a singer and Sonny would eventually become a Republican Congressman from California.  He died while in office as the result of a skiing accident.  Cher is a Democrat.  After their break up she had numerous relationships. Her dyslexia  has not stopped her and she has also found success in acting, appearing in several films. For more on Cher click
100 Most Important American Songs see song 75.
     
6.  FRANKIE VALLI (solo artist & with the Four Seasons a.k.a. The Wonder Who) - Hearing Impaired
Video - Grease
During the 1970's he suffered hearing loss. It was at this time he recorded the hit songs  "My Eyes Adored You", "Swearin' to God", and "Grease". Due to new surgical techniques he has had some improvement in his hearing.  He is best known for his work with the group the Four Seasons (aka The Wonder Who)  He also had a very successful solo career. Frankie Valli's roots was in Doo Wop.  He transformed into mainstream Rock, Pop Standards and Disco/Electronic Music. The life of Frankie Valli & The four Seasons is presented in the stage play/musical, "The Jersey Boys".
For more on Frankie Valli CLICK
100 American Pop Standards see songs 47, 46, & 3

5.  BRIAN WILSON (solo artist & with The Beach Boys)- Hearing Impaired
AUDIO - Good Vibrations
Brian fulfilled the dream of Les Paul, Inventor of the electric guitar and eight track recording equipment, of turning the recording studio into an instrument. Some believe that his work on the song "Good Vibrations" in the studio was impart due to his hearing disability.  Working in the confines of the studio he could shut out all ambient noise.  This allowed him to set volumes, tones, pitches etc.at his best hearing ability. He could concentrate on one sound at a time.  Virtually everyone in the music industry recognizes "Good Vibrations" as a breakthrough in recording technology. His approach to recording profoundly impacted the recording industry.  Its greatest influence would be on the rise of Disco/Electronic Music.The Beach Boys were one of the must successful recording acts of all time. Brian was one of the most influential of the Beach Boys. For more on Brian Wilson click
100 Most Important American Songs see songs 5 and 1.

4.  Les Paul (1915 - 2009)- disabled right arm
1. VIDEO - Les Paul & Keith Richards(Rolling Stones) at 90th Birthday Party for Les Paul
2. VIDEO - Les Paul & Jose Feliciano at 90th Birthday Party for Les Paul 
Les Paul the inventor of the solid body electric guitar was nearly killed in 1948 in a car accident on old Route 66 in Oklahoma. His injuries were so severe the doctors talked of amputating his right arm.  It was ultimately agreed they would try and save the arm but the bones would have to be set in such a way that he would never be able to change its position   He had the bones set so the arm was always at a near 90 degree angle. This would allow him to play the guitar, but he would have very limited movement.  He would have to learn to play the guitar all over again. He would go on to sell tens of millions of recordings and be recognized as one of the greatest guitarist of all time. The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame has named him one of the "architects" of Rock 'n' Roll and thus he has a permanent display.
For more on Les Paul CLICK
100 Most Important American Songs see song #1

3.  RAY CHARLES
 (1930 - 2004) - Blind

VIDEO - What'd I Say (Live)
Ray Charles was born into poverty and  began to lose his sight at an early age.  By the age of seven he was blind. Ray attended the Florida School for the Blind where he learned  the basics in music.  His studies surrounded Classical music.  With this base and his growing interest in Jazz and Blues he began to develop his musical style.  That style was heavily influenced by the great Nat King Cole.  Ray finally came out on his own with the recordings of "I Got A Woman" and "What'd I Say".  Ray never let his blindness stand in his way. He went on to become one of the greatest recording artist of all time. In the era of Rock and Pop Soul he still believed in the Big Band and Pop Standards.  He was also a pitch man for Pepsi and did several jingles for the cola brand. His recording career included Big Band, Pop Standards, Jazz, R&B and Country. He loved how music allowed him complete freedom of expression. Some of his hits are "I can't Stop Loving You", "Your Cheatin' Heart", "You Are My sunshine", "Busted", "Born To Lose", "I'm Movin' On", "What i'd Say", "Unchain My Heart", "You Don't Know Me", "Crying Time", "Together Again", "Booty Butt", "Yesterday", "Eleanor Rigby", "Lets Go Get Stoned", "Here We Go Again", "Take These Chains From My Heart", "Ruby" and "Sticks and Stones". 
For more on Ray Charles CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians
100 Most Important American Songs see songs 38,31, and also 68, 58, 33, 28.

2.  STEVIE WONDER - Blind
VIDEO - Superstition                                   
 One of  America's most creative songwriters and performers.  He has contributed to the growth and development of Soul and Pop music. He has not let his music be pigeon holed into just one genre. Some today credit or blame him for vocal styling of contemporary pop music.  Many of his songs require "vocal gymnastics" and some listeners have complained that the singers sounds like they have the "stomach flu".  His style of writing and performing has influenced composers and performers from Jazz to Country. What ever your opinion he has had a big impact on the modern music scene. Here are some of his hits "Fingertips", "Overjoyed", "Uptight (everything's alright)", "Blowin' In The Wind", "I Was Made To Love Her", 'Skeletons", "Part Time Lover", "Sir Duke", "Master blaster (Jammin')"', "I Wish", "Ebony And Ivory" (with Paul McCartney), "I Just called To Say I Love you", "Isn't She Lovely", "Superstition", "Send One Your Love", "Do I Do", "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life", "Boogie On Reggae Woman", "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours", "Higher ground", "For Once In My Life", and "Living For The City".  
For more on Stevie Wonder CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians
100 Most Important American Songs see songs 38 and 28.

1.  MICHAEL JACKSON (1958 - 2009)(solo artist & with The Jackson Five) - Lupus & Vitiligo
VIDEO - Billie Jean ((Live)
One of the most famous celebrities with Lupus and Vitiligo is Michael Jackson. His odd behavior may not have been odd after all. Lets start with the famous white glove. It may have been introduced to cover the discoloration of his hand from the disease Vitiligo.  The disease causes discoloration and skin blotches.  It is unsightly.  For a person who performs in public it was a serious problem. He battled this skin problem and the under educated of both Black and White Americans perceived his slowly turning white as a elaborate bleaching method to disavow being black.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  He was proud of his racial heritage as much as he was proud of his national heritage.  Those who suffer from Lupus are profoundly impacted from Ultra Violet light from the sun and florescent lights.  This would explain why he carried an umbrella. He needed to keep the sun off his skin.  The combination of both afflictions would explain most of his public behavioral issues. Lupus symptoms and conditions are unpredictable and can strike suddenly. The normal response to Lupus often seems odd to those who do not have the illness. For more on Michael Jackson click
100 Most Important American Songs see songs 62, 52, and 25.
Drugs, Booze, Death - American Musicians see artist 2



7. Honorable Mention


Kim Wickes - Blind
She is a Korean/American blinded in the Korean War.  She was adopted by Americans and grew up in Indiana. She attended the Indiana School for the Blind in Indianapolis.  She has two degrees from Indiana University and studied music in Vienna, Austria. Her music is faith based as she is a singing evangelist and she sings in an operatic style. She tours the world performing and has several albums to her credit.
for more on Kim Wickes CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Patrick Henry Hughes - Multiple Disabilities
He is a multi-instrument musician and vocalist. He was born with extremely limited movement in both the arms and legs.  He also has no eyes. He is an alumnus of the University of Louisville where he played in the Marching Band with the help of his father. He is best known for his cover of great Pop Standards and performing Country.
For more on Patrick CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Bill Clements - Amputee

He is a bass guitarist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was inspired to play bass at age 13 by listening to the great bass players from Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. His right hand and forearm were amputated as the result of an industrial accident.  This did not stop him from becoming a successful bass player in the Rock and Jazz genres. He has also had an ongoing battle with alcohol. He has proven that disabilities are not dead end barriers.

Blind John Davis - (1913 - 1985) Blind

He was born in Mississippi in 1913 and lost his sight by age nine while living Chacago.  He father owned "speakeasies" in Chicago during prohibition.  It was there that he honed his musical interests and skill on the piano. He played Blues/Jazz/ Boogie-Woogie piano.  He worked for several record labels playing the piano for other artists at recording sessions.  He latter recorded on his own and toured Europe.
For more on Blind John Davis CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Mark Goffeney a.k.a. Big Toe - Birth Defect (No Arms)

He is a San Diego based musician who plays the bass with his feet.  He is the vocalist and bassist for "Big Toe Band".

Joesph Manone - Amputee
He lost his arm in an accident at age ten.  He was a famous trumpet player and composer of  "Tar Paper Stomp" the song that would become the basis of the most popular instrumental of the Electrofied Era, "In The Mood". He played with Benny Goodman and Bing Crosby.  He became a fixture in Las Vegas as a casino entertainer. For more on the song "In The Mood". Click
1. 100 Most Important American Songs
2. Top 100 American Instrumentals

The Blind Boys Of Alabama - Blind

One of America's leading Gospel groups.  They formed in 1939 during the segregation era of American History  The Blind Boys formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind.  In building a career they had to over come segregation as much as their blindness. They have had a lasting impact on R&B , Rock and even Country. They have performed or recorded with some of the biggest names in the Electrofied Era.
For more on The Blind Boys of Alabama CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Matt Savage - Autism

He is an autistic savant from Massachusetts.  He is essentially self taught on the piano.  Matt is a rising Jazz phenomenon.just beginning a life career. Autism creates serious problems in socialization which is so important in any career. He is not letting that stand in his way, and we will be hearing more from him in the future.

Connie Francis - Bipolar
Note -  She is by any standard an international superstar.  Connie Francis was one of the very biggest American recording artist of the last half of the 20th. century.  She was among the first of the Rock era to record in foreign languages, Italian, Spanish, German and Japanese.  She is in the elite of American recording artists which are true Global Artists.  She does not make the Top 25 because she was diagnosed  with Bipolar problems long after her biggest career success. Her career in the United States was huge from 1958 to 1965 but dropped off after that.  She did have success internationally in the years that followed. In 1974 while on tour in New York (state) she was brutally raped and nearly killed. This happened about a year after a miscarriage. In 1977 her aunt was murdered. Then in 1981 her brother was murdered by a Mafia hit man. These four events and stress over her career are believed to have contributed to her being diagnosed with a Bipolar disorder. In the years following treatment she toured and performed for her fans around the world.  She made several appearances in Las Vegas.

Marcus Roberts - Blind

Marcus lost his sight to cataracts by age five. He was self taught on the piano. He attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and then went on to college at Florida State University. He is a highly regarded Jazz pianist and was Keyboard player with world famous Jazz artist, Wynton Marsalis. On his own he has made well over two dozen recordings.  He is an Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Florida State University.
For more on Marcus Roberts CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Jimmy McGriff - Multiple Sclerosis

Note - Like Connie Francis his illness was diagnosed after the high point of his career     Most of his musical accomplishments occurred long before his diagnosis. He was one of America's greatest artist on the Hammond Organ.  His musical expertise was in Jazz/Blues and Disco/Electronic Music.  He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996 and died in 2008 from complications of the disease.

Victoria Williams - Multiple Sclerosis
She has toured with Neil Young and Lou Reed. She was in the film "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues". Her musical style is hard to pigeon hole.  She is a guitarist that is capable of crossing genres and mixing genres.  She tends to play a cross of Folk and Alternative Rock.


Tom Sullivan - Blind
Actor, author and musician. He had a recurring role in the television series "Highway to Heaven". He sang on the show and on other nationally televised events including performing the "Star Spangled Banner" at a Super Bowl and Indianapolis 500 events.  He also has at least one album sold nationally
For more on Tom Sullivan CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Charles Atkins - Blind

He attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and the New York institute for the Blind and Florida State University. It was at FSU he earned a degree in music education.  Charles is famous for his Blues styling.  While in Florida he worked with Sam and Dave world famous R&B artists. He has made his own mark as an artist and is currently performing with his own band "The Charles Atkins Band. 
For more on Charles Atkins CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Mandy Harvey - Deaf

VIDEO - Smile by Mandy Harvey
Since birth she has dealt with increasing hearing loss.  While attending Colorado State University she went totally deaf.  She had been focusing her education on music.  With her loss of hearing she dropped out of school to deal with health issues and regroup.  She ultimately came back to music.  She has recorded several albums.  Her forte is singing Jazz which is difficult for the normal hearing person.  Her success in this area of music sets her apart from many singers. She has at least four albums to her credit.

Alec Templeton (1909 - 1963) - Blind
He was a Welsh/American.  He was born blind.  He immigrated in 1936 to the United States.  He hosted several national radio shows and recorded for several large record companies.  His music was Jazz and the Classics.  
For more on Alec Templeton CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Jessica Callahan - Blind

She is Pop singer/songwriter who is also proficient on the keyboard.  She is truly a rising talent in the Pop music genre.  She has two albums under her belt and more on the way.  She is best known in the Las Angeles area but her music is gaining recognition across America.
For more on Jessica Callahan CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Lennie Tristono (1919 - 1978) - Blind
He was born in Chicago and was one of the nations leading Jazz educators.  He acknowledged fellow brother in blindness, Art Tatum, as influential in his music.  He also credited Charlie Parker and Nat King Cole. He had more than a hand full of recordings to his credit. 
For more on Lennie Tristono CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Blind "Willie" McTell  (1898 - 1959) - Blind
He was born blind and attended the Georgia School for the Blind.  He was a singer/songwriter of the blues was also a Gospel singer.  In 1940, the beginning of the Electrofied Era, he made a series of recordings for the Library of Congress.He made other recordings in 40's and 50's for record companies. His music influenced Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers Band among others.  
For more on Blind "Willie" McTell CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Lachi - Legally Blind

She is a singer/songwriter from New York.  As America has matured musically it has become increasingly difficult to classify artists because of the plethora of genres and sub-genres that have evolved out of our national experience. Lachi falls into that circumstance.  She clearly has strong Jazz ties and yet she often has a strong Alternative Rock sound and then she can have a Pop Standards feel. She has three albums to her credit, but her career is just getting up a head of steam.  There is certainly more to come. 
For more on Lachi CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Sonny Terry (1911 - 1986) - Blind

He lost most of his sight by age 16 from injuries.  His vision was little more than light perception. He was a harmonica  and Juice Harp (Jaw Harp) player who played varying forms of the Blues and Folk music. Sonny also performed vocals. He made his first recordings in 1940 at the beginning of the Electrofied Era. he worked with Woody Guthrie and Moses Asch. He has over a half dozen albums and has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
For more Sonny Terry CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Nathan Beaugard (189? - 1970) - Blind

He was a singer guitar player, Blues legend, born blind in Mississippi. 
For more on Nathan CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Brother Ali - Albinism - Legally Blind (Photophobia)
He was born in Wisconsin and schooled in Michigan and Minnesota.  He is a Hip Hop.   He is a controversial Hip Hop artist.  He is a practicing Muslim and proud of it.  He is Caucasian, but is pure white from Albinism.  The lack of pigmentation to the skin and the retinas of the eyes has left him in a world apart from others.
For more on Brother Ali CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Rod Clemmons - Blind
His is from Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  He is a graduate of the Arkansas School for the Blind.  He continued his studies at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.  He graduated with honors from IU in classical piano performance.  He tours throughout the United States and performs in nightclubs. He is a singer, songwriter, arranger, producer and founder of Verdict Records.  He believes in helping his brothers and sisters in blindness and gives his talents to raising money to fight blindness and he also performs at schools for the blind.
For more on Rod CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians

Bree Noble - Legally Blind
She is from California and is a singer/songwriter.  Her music is strongly faith oriented but she also performs patriotic songs and Electrofied Era Standards mostly from Broadway.  She has at least three albums to her credit and like Kim Wickes, Patrick Henry Hughes and Tom Sullivan she is also a motivational speaker.

For more on Bree CLICK
Top 40 Blind and Visually Impaired American Musicians