: one of the founding fathers of soul, and blind since the age of seven.
Music is a common career of choice for people without sight, both in real life and in the realms of fiction. In many cases, the musician's lack of vision will actually enhance his musical abilities. This is because the loss of sight can sharpen other senses such as hearing, perhaps qualifying this as a real-life Disability Superpower
The Trope Maker
is probably Homer
, the semi-legendary 8th-century BCE bard credited with two cornerstones of Western literature.
See also Your Eyes Can Deceive You
, Blind Black Guy
. May be a Handicapped Badass
. A Sub-Trope
of Deaf Composer
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- Orbit Smurf in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf has light-sensitive eyes that require him to wear a wraparound visor at all times, but is very good at composing and playing music.
- Saria Speeder in CIA Agents suffers from a severe sight problem since her birth, and gets worse over the years, but she is an excellent musician that can play any musical instrument.
- Blind Mag from Repo! The Genetic Opera Though the fact she's in-universe promoted as "Blind Mag" is a subversion, as she's not actually blind anymore, and hasn't been for seventeen years. That's hardly a secret, either. Perhaps Gene Co itself is playing on this trope?
- In Get Crazy, we meet a B.B. King expy at a fellow blues man's funeral. All the other blues men in attendance are blind, throwing flowers, well, blindly. One of them walks into an open grave.
- Ray Charles does some light Adam Westing in The Blues Brothers as the owner of Ray's Music Exchange. He plays a total dick of a store owner, obviously employing some shady business practices and even fires a handgun at a kid he suspects of shoplifting, but hoo boy can he play the electric piano!
- In Suspiria, there's Daniel, the blind pianist.
- In Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal sees people who blind boys who can sing because blind singers earn more money than ones that can see.
- An entire band in Hop.
- Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. When Max enters Aunty Entity's place, a tattooed blind man dressed in a loincloth is playing the Sexophone.
- Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novels use this trope often. Sometimes the blind musician, always a harper, is blind from birth, but usually, in whatever culture she's writing about, it's a custom to blind a boy found to have musical gifts, so that his gift can grow stronger and he can become the next village harper, a revered position. She does have plenty of harpers who aren't blind, too, though.
- Linus Wynter from Eoin Colfer's Airman - a blind spy who etches out an entire opera on the walls of his cell.
- Aurelio, the blind Manoush who first appears in City of Stars, the second book in Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza sequence.
- Skylar of Gives Light is a mute musician, not blind, but the trope plays out the same.
- The Odyssey features a blind bard in one scene; the narration explains that the muses gave him the gift of song to make up for his lack of sight. This lends some weight to the popular legend/theory that Homer himself was blind.
- In Idoru, Lo/Rez's drummer "Blind" Willy Jude is, well, blind, though he wears special glasses that allow him to compensate.
- In Dune Messiah, Scytale visits an old man whose son was blinded during the campaign on Naraj. The son now spends his days making music.
Music / Real Life
- Homer, the ancient Greek bard to whom The Iliad and The Odyssey are traditionally attributed, was often characterised as blind. Whether Homer existed, let alone whether he was blind, is the subject of interminable debate, but he is almost certainly the Trope Maker.
- Happened a lot in blues music. Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Lemon Jefferson... in fact, Wikipedia has an index of blind bluesmen.
- Ray Charles
- Jeff Healey
- Stevie Wonder
- The 18th-century Irish harpist/composer Turlough O'Carolan.
- José Feliciano
- Ronnie Milsap
- Diane Schuur has proved that gender is no object for this trope.
- Lyricist Fanny Crosby.
- Terri Gibbs
- The Blind Boys of Alabama
- Jazz pianists George Shearing and Lennie Tristano.
- Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who sometimes played two or three saxophones at once.
- Art Tatum
- Ken Medema, a Christian pianist / composer / singer noted for his improvising abilities.
- Andrea Bocelli
- Blind Tom Wiggins, an enslaved autistic piano savant popular during the 19th century
- Brother Ali, a blind, albino, Muslim, Caucasian rapper
- One episode of Stan Lee's Superhumans featured Derek Paravicini, a blind autistic man who can remember and accurately replay any song he's ever heard in his life.
- Gao Jianli, a musician during the rein of the Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC), which means this trope is recorded to be Older Than Feudalism, no big surprise. Gao Jianli had his eyes put out by the emperor, who feared an assassination attempt but liked his music. Sure enough, Gao Jianli tried to assassinate the emperor by attacking him with his lute. Yeah. Unfortunately, he failed. But he still might also count as a Handicapped Badass despite that.
- Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is a blind Aboriginal singer-songwriter. Additionally, he is extremely shy and speaks little English. Against these odds, he has achieved commercial success and critical acclaim in Australia and performed at Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee concert among huge stars such as Paul McCartney and fellow Blind Musician Stevie Wonder.
- The drummer for the Australian indie band Rudely Interrupted was born without eyes.
- There was an obscure blues singer who went by the name Blind Ben Covington, but acquired the nickname Bogus Ben Covington when word got out that he wasn't actually blind at all. He is therefore an aversion of the trope.
- Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Ginny Owens.
- Louis Braille, the inventor of the raised-dots alphabet for the blind, was a church organist.
- Jean Alain, composer & organist.
- Sir John Stanley, composer & organist. He was once scheduled to be the keyboardist for a concert that Handel—himself blind by that time—was supposed to conduct. Handel, when told of it said, "Don't you know your Scripture? If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the pit."
- Johnny and Edgar Winter, both albinos, are both legally blind.
- Hargus "Pig" Robbins, a prominent country music session pianist, was blinded at age four after an accident with his father's knife.
- apl.de.ap of The Black Eyed Peas was legally blind due to nystagmus, which was surgically corrected in 2012.
- Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson, a legendary bluegrass and country guitarist, was blind from infancy.
Live Action TV
- One episode of Quantum Leap was about a fictional blind pianist.
- The Rutles had retired New Orleans bluesman (IIRC) Blind Lemon Pie, who claimed to have invented The Rutles' music, although his wife retorted that he made this and similar claims only for the benefit of TV documentary crews.
- Actually Blind Lemon Pye was inspired by The Rutles to quit working on the railroad and become a (starving) musician. The person claiming to have originated The Rutles was Ruttling Orange Peel, who lives next door.
- One episode of Jonathan Creek had a musician pretending to be blind in order to enhance his reputation... not to mention using it as an excuse to feel up women because that's how he "sees" what they look like. He used to be blind however, it's just that he decided only to tell a very small group of people that he'd had corrective eye surgery. Even his own girlfriend didn't seem to be aware of it.
- Jason "Jace" Newfield of the Disney Channel Original Movie Going to the Mat. Lampshaded when he expresses frustration at his lack of success on the wrestling team, saying he wanted "to be a part of one thing where [his] disability was totally irrelevant," and adds that the fact that he's a musician as well makes him a "walking cliche."
- Rosalind in The Mentalist is a blind pianist.
- In the play Fidlovacka by Josef Kajetán Tyl, a blind violinist sings Kde domov můj, a song that later became the Czech anthem.
- Apollo Justice: Lamiroir and Machi are a singer and pianist duo in the third case, with Lamiroir leading the blind Machi around. Machi can actually see, and it's Lamiroir who is blind. She later has surgery to regain her vision.
- It's one of the innocent bystanders in The Punisher NES game. Killing him will remove a chunk of health from you.
- Blind Willie "Buttermilk" Stubbs, Father "Blind Pappy" Ramblin' Jackson and Earl Stokes "Can't-see-a-damn" Molasses Fatts in Problem Sleuth.
- An episode of The Simpsons also makes reference to a jazz sax player called "Blind Willie" Witherspoon. He was so good he became a jazz legend even though he'd been unwittingly playing an umbrella for the duration of his career. Nobody told him because they thought it was funny.
- A Cow and Chicken episode has a blind black jazz player neighbor who lives in a swamp.
- The "Toby Danger" cartoon in Freakazoid! had a brief gag where a dead ringer for Ray Charles continued performing, oblivious to the power being cut.
- Ickis from Real Monsters once tried to prove himself by scaring a blind guitar player named Ellis Robinson. Mr. Robinson wasn't intimidated in the least, and they became friends.
- Toots (Joan's foster dad) from Clone High.