Deaf musician inspires artists with disabilities

October 4, 2009 7:29:52 AM PDT
Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first person in musical history to successfully create a full-time career as a solo percussionist. She is also profoundly deaf. Dame Evelyn will be performing in the Chicago area next week with Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra. Proceeds from the performance support Access Living's art and culture program. It is also an encouragement for other musicians with disabilities.

For any musician, the opportunity to perform and be recognized is essential. It's just as important for those with disabilities.

Robert Hall has been in Chicago's music scene for 30 years.

" I actually started singing early, when I was 10, but I didn't start playing keyboard until I was 20 years," Hall said.

Robert has been blind since he was 10.

" I have no vision now, but once upon a time, I did. I had light perception up until I was about 20 years old because my blindness is due to retinal detachment," he said.

After playing with some bands, Robert is currently performing solo.

"I have another musician that plays with me, and I also have a drum computer also that I join along with my keyboard to play the bass line and drum tracks," said Hall.

Although, Robert Hall has never met Dame Evelyn Glennie, he says he would love to hear her play.

Despite the fact that, Glennie is deaf and plays musical instruments, she has proven that anything is possible, says Access Living's Arts and Culture Project Coordinator Susan Nussbaum.

"Anyone who is dealing with an oppressive situation, they're all for the most part forced from, I think, the culture that you live in. I think it has something to do with disabilities when a person who is creative and good at it and wants to grow, learn, expand and connect and that person is disabled, then they can't. It's often because of the disability," she Nussbaum said.

" I think it's important to make people aware of what people with disabilities are still capable of doing," Nussbaum said. "I mean, we have a disability. We have a different way of accomplishing things, but yet, we can still. We can still function in society."

Dame Evelyn may be on the top of her game, but for other musicians, like Robert Hall, it's a simple thing.

"I'm not actually looking to get rich, but I'd like to get some recognition for the music that I do, as well as just show people that I am an artist and I am creative and I can contribute to society on that level, as well," Hall said.

Dame Evelyn Glennie and the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra will be playing at the Harris Theater Monday, October 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 to $75 dollars.

For more information, please visit www.accessliving.org, www.harristheaterchicago.org (312-334-7777), and www.evelyn.co.uk.


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