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Blind Musician

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Ray Charles: 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 Genius Cripple.

Subtrope of Ironically Disabled Artist. Compare and contrast Deaf Composer, when an artist's disability directly conflicts with their skill.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sala Shane from Charlotte is a blind vocalist of the band ZHIEND.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the demon woman Nakime was a Goze, blind musician in old Japanese history, back when she was human.
  • In Get Backers, Shido's companion and eventual girlfriend Madoka Otowa is a very cute-looking and very famous violinist who's also blind.
  • Samurai Champloo has Sara who's a stunning but blind musician.

    Fan Works 
  • Saria Speeder in C.I.A.: 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.
  • Codex Equus: Prince Healing Song is one. Much like Jeff Healey, whom he is based on, Healing Song was blinded during infancy when he was struck with retinoblastoma, a rare type of cancer that affected his eyes, necessitating their surgical removal by doctors and subsequent replacement with prosthetic eyes. However, he showed signs of musical talents when he was three years old, and he eventually became known for playing both single-necked and double-necked guitars like a piano by sitting and playing it flat on his lap, resulting in a richer and more fluid sound. And while not an academic genius like some of his friends such as Princess-Regent Merula, Princess Twilight/Amicitia Sparkle, and Prince Crimson Star, Healing Song is very intelligent music-wise and has a great auditory memory even tens of thousands of years later, being capable of writing his own songs in Braille and playing many Second-Age songs completely by memory.
  • 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.

  • In Andhadhun, the fake-blind pianist Akash's familiarity with this trope is why he fakes being blind in the first place.
  • 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!
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once: Evelyn has an Alternate Self who was blinded as a child and went on to become a famous singer. She does a Flash Sideways to this version, taking advantage of her enhanced other senses and increased lung capacity to fight through tear gas.
  • 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.
  • An entire band in Hop.
  • Kung Fu Hustle has The Harpists, who are mostly if not totally blind and play the guzheng (Chinese string instrument often heard in operas). They also double as Musical Assassins, as they use the guzheng to attack and kill their targets via Razor Wind from the strings.
  • Mad Max
  • In the film The Miracle Woman, our leading man is an aspiring musician who happens to be blind.
  • In Night Song, Dan's a talented pianist who was a big shot composer before the war, but it was a freak accident after the war that blinded him.
  • Ray, a Biopic about famous blind musician Ray Charles
  • 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 GeneCo itself is playing on this trope?
  • In Suspiria (1977), there's Daniel, the blind pianist.
  • In Slumdog Millionaire, the crime lord Maman has boys who can sing be blinded, because blind singers earn more money than ones that can see.
  • 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."
  • Journey of the Heart has autistic piano savant Tony, whose retinas detached due to all the oxygen he received as a premature infant. Lampshaded by Tony's brother Ray: "How come piano players don't ever have eyes?"
  • Zigeunerweisen: While staying with Koine at the inn, Nakasago and Aochi are entertained by a trio of blind musicians who play the shamisen and sing songs. Amusingly, they play an absolutely filthy song about how a horny woman tries to get her man hard so he can screw her.

  • Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novels, such as Outcast and Warrior Scarlet, 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.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Rhysling from "The Green Hills of Earth" (also mentioned elsewhere in Heinlein's "Future History" stories).
  • I Am Mordred: The harper, who it turns out also knows magic (and his raven may be a familiar).
  • The Blind Musician by Vladimir Korolenko, a Russian novel describing the life of a blind pianist starting from birth.
  • Subverted by Emily Gregory (later de Cortez), in several works by Madeleine L'Engle; she wants to be considered on her own merits, not as a blind pianist.
  • Quarters: Tadeus, one of the bards, is blind. It's downplayed however as the other bards are entirely sighted.

    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.
  • The two-part "The Problem at Gallows Gate" 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.
  • Rosalind in The Mentalist is a blind pianist.
  • Jenna Marshall from Pretty Little Liars is a blind flute player and a composer.
  • In one episode of Gotham, Jim Gordon is investigating a crime scene and asks a busker if he saw anything. The busker taps his dark glasses and says "Not since the war." Jim apologises, takes a few steps, and then throws him a coin ... which he catches.
  • Alex from the Decoy episode "Queen of Diamonds" is a pianist who was blinded for asking too many questions about the criminals who frequented the club where he worked.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Gift", the guitarist Ignacio is blind.
  • One episode of NCIS features a blind pianist played by Abigail Breslin. Because she's blind, she has acute hearing that helps Team Gibbs rescue her kidnapped mother.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Love is Blind", the folk musician at the Mustang bar is blind.

    Music/Real Life 
  • Homer, the ancient Greek bard to whom The Iliad and The Odyssey are traditionally attributed, was often characterized 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...
  • Ray Charles
  • Jeff Healey
  • Stevie Wonder
  • The 18th-century Irish harpist/composer Turlough O'Carolan.
  • Josť Feliciano
  • Ronnie Milsap
  • Diane Schuur has proved that gender is no object for this trope.
  • Lyricist Fanny Crosby.
  • Terri Gibbs
  • Amadou & Mariam, a married couple of Malian Musicians
  • 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
  • Somewhat subverted with Roy Orbison: his iconic, large-frame sunglasses sometimes led people to assume he was blind - he had indeed poor eyesight but was not actually blind.
  • 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 reign 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.
  • G. Yunupingu (1971-2017) was a blind Aboriginal singer-songwriter. Additionally, he was extremely shy and spoke little English. He nonetheless 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. He is therefore a subversion 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.
  • Jehan Alain, French composer and organist.
  • French pop star Gilbert Montagné.
  • Sir John Stanley, composer and 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.
  • 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.
  • Stevie Nicks, while not as extreme as some examples on the list, is (close to) legally blind and requires assistance to find her spot onstage. She had surgery in the 1990s but her eyesight is still very bad.
  • Casey Harris, the keyboardist of X Ambassadors, was born blind.
  • George Frederic Handel lost his vision later in life, but kept on composing and performing. The aria "Total Eclipse" from his oratorio Samson, in which the title character describes his Sense Loss Sadness after being blinded, was said to move the composer and audience to tears. He and Johann Sebastian Bach went blind after botched eye operations by Chevalier John Taylor, a notorious quack surgeon.
  • Paul Pena, eclectic rock singer-songwriter whose song "Jet Airliner" was Covered Up into a huge Steve Miller Band hit (which gave Pena some financial security for the rest of his life). Later he mastered Tuvan throat singing and became the subject of the documentary Genghis Blues.
  • Helmut Walcha, a German organist who taught several American Fulbright scholars.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach went blind towards the end of his life but still continued to compose. Both he and George Frederic Handel did so after botched eye operations by Chevalier John Taylor, a notorious quack surgeon.
  • Louis Vierne, French composer and organist. Born with congenital cataracts, he was not completely blind, and after early surgery could read large letters and distinguish shapes. Still, he fit the definition of legally blind and needed assistance in writing and other tasks.
  • Andre Marchal, French composer and organist.
  • Jean Langlais, French composer and organist.
  • Gaston Litaize, French composer and organist.
  • Francesco Landini, Medieval-era Italian French composer and organist. The "Landini cadence," a common ending chord progression of the period, was named for him.
  • Antonio DeCabezon, Baroque-period Spanish composer and organist.
  • Joaquin Rodrigo, 20th century Spanish composer.
  • Frederick Delius, 20th century English composer, who went blind and suffered other catastrophic maladies from tertiary stage syphilis later in life. He continued to compose via painstaking dictation to transcriber Eric Fenby.
  • Louis Thomas Hardin, the prodigious outsider musician better known as Moondog, was blinded as an adolescent by playing with a dynamite cap.
  • Goze were blind Japanese women who tended to be shamisen players.

  • Malevolent starts with our main character, Arthur Lester, loosing his eyesight, and prior to the events of the podcast he was already a talented musician. He fairly frequently plays piano throughout the series.

  • In the play Fidlovacka by Josef Kajetán Tyl, a blind violinist sings Kde domov můj, a song that later became the Czech anthem.
  • Totally subverted in "Les Deux Aveugles" (The Two Blind Men) and "The Blind Beggars", two independent librettos to the same operetta score by Offenbach; in both versions, two beggars are trying to invoke this trope, but both are only pretending to be blind and are terrible musicians.

    Video Games 
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: 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.
  • Ojou Lily from Katawa Shoujo is blind from birth and has a knack for the violin.
  • The performers in the Velvet Room in Persona 2 have handicapped themselves in order to focus on their work. The pianist, Nameless, is blindfolded.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Jericho, who is technically blind, and plays the bass guitar. Although, he has Psychic Powers fully spherical visual sense that's only in renders things in black, white and grey.
  • In Brandon Rogers' video "Sound is Blind", blind fashion designer Jürgen Klausvonschwitz decides to take up music, boasting that he'll become the world' first ever blind musician, with the unstated but implicit punchline being that he's already preceded by the highly famous Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, etc. and just doesn't know it.

  • Blind Willie "Buttermilk" Stubbs, Father "Blind Pappy" Ramblin' Jackson and Earl Stokes "Can't-see-a-damn" Molasses Fatts in Problem Sleuth.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    • Subverted in an I Am Weasel segment that featured the Red Guy as a theremin player with dark glasses. He freely admits that he can see perfectly; the glasses are so opaque that they obscure his vision, but they were on sale, so he wears them regardless.
  • 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 Aaahh!!! 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.