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5 Highly-Respected Musicians with Disabilities

Written by: Iris

5 Highly-Respected Musicians with Disabilities post image

Life itself is not easy, and how could it be more challenging for people who have disabilities? Whether a physical condition was inborn or acquired, the difficulty coping and growing up with are likely to happen.  But it's truly uplifting to know that many people who are immensely passionate about their crafts were able to crush the said struggles. They are lucky- so fortunate to discover what their true expertise is early on, and they're bold – courageous enough to chase their dreams. This attitude towards life is extremely praiseworthy, and they inspire all of us to do the same. To dedicate our heart and soul - our very existence- into perfecting a masterpiece.


Image Source: andros1234 / 2 images via Pixabay and can be reused under the CC BY license.


And not only were they able to express their gifts in the form of entertainment, and successfully contributed to the music industry, but it's their capacity to showcase their life story to bring inspiration to so many people.   


1. Ludwig Van Beethoven


A German pianist, virtuoso performer and composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven exceptionally conquered his disability by being one of the most renowned figures in history, and becoming a significant name between the periods of Classical and early Romantic eras. He composed a prolific number of highly-celebrated compositions, including the 9 symphonies, 16 string quartets, 5 piano concertos, 32 piano sonatas, 1 concerto for violin and the notable Missa solemnis. His hearing started to deteriorate at the age of 30, and became totally deaf in the last years of his life. This is the period where he created his most well-known works of art, the Ninth Symphony in particular.


2. Ray Charles

Having completely lost his sight by the tender age of 7, Ray Charles has outstandingly overcome his blindness. Thanks to his mom's unfaltering support; and not to mention his steadfast determination, Charles was able to study music, and became a gifted musician to play several musical instruments, such as the piano, organ, clarinet, sax and trumpet. He brilliantly merged rhythm and blues, and gospel music, paving the way to the conception of soul music, and turned out to be a crucial part of the said genre. Charles was ranked 10th at the Rolling Stone's “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. No wonder he's constantly labeled as "The Genius".


3. Stevie Wonder

Soon after Stevland Hardaway Judkins' (and was later named as Stevland Hardaway Morris) premature birth, he became blind due to ROP or Retinopathy of Prematurity, which resulted from the high levels of oxygen in an incubator. But it seems like the child prodigy Stevie Wonder was fated to victoriously beat his condition. He studied how to play numerous musical instruments, which made him a multi-instrumentalist. He has made about 30 US chart-topping songs, and became one of the top selling artists in the music industry for having sold more than 100 million singles and albums. Stevie is also the only male solo musician who has gained 25 Grammy awards, and ranked 5th at the 2008 Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists.


4. Itzhak Perlman

At an early age of three, Itzhak Perlman already demonstrated an immense passion towards playing the violin. Having gotten denied enrollment to the Shulamit Conservatory for Perlman was too small to hold and play a violin, he studied how to play the said instrument with the use of a toy fiddle. He unfortunately contracted polio at the age of 4, and recovered immediately. The disease left him to use crutches as he grew up, and eventually used an electric scooter for mobility. He is famous for being one of the youngest virtuosos in the music industry, and he rose above his condition accomplishedly by becoming a noteworthy violin player in the classical, baroque and jazz musical genres. Because of his remarkable involvement in the industry, Perlman has been labeled as "Sir" many times. At a state dinner in the East Room of the White House, Perlman played fervently, in front of many notable figures, one of which was Queen Elizabeth II.


5. TJ James

With his personal accomplishments and contributions to the Australian music industry, it's clear that TJ James has exultantly defeated his condition. TJ James became a hemiplegic when he was born with mild cerebral palsy.  With his strong faith in God, incredible talent and solid zeal towards his craft, he turned out to be a very much revered songwriter and a respected musical performer. His music is presently labeled as "classic AOR rock with an upbeat feel and message". To date, TJ James has successfully released 4 independent albums: "All the Pieces Fit" in 2012, "Another World" in 2007, his self-titled album "TJ James" in 2003, and "Able Bodied" back in 2001. TJ's generosity is also translated through his commitment to help the Cerebral Palsy organizations around the world, where he donates 20-30% from his CD sales.


(ALSO READ: Successful People with Disabilities)


There's a sort of heroism from triumphantly defying one's physical disability. With willpower and resolve to hone a talent that's being craved for by the depths of one’s soul, these musicians with disabilities have done a great job in amazingly showing to the world that you don't need to be physically complete to live a happy and fulfilling life. All you need is a never-say-die attitude and a positive outlook to grab every opportunity in savoring life's sweetness despite its chaotic and imperfect nature.  Go on, follow your heart!





Primary Image Source: schuetz-mediendesign / 31 images via Pixabay and can be reused under the CC BY license.