Nine Legendary Blind Singers

Blind Lemon Jefferson

It's interesting to note how many notable blind musicians there have been over the past century or so. (I suppose deaf singers would be more interesting, but...) You could say that, owing to their sightlessness, these people turned to music to make their lives more meaningful (and let's not forget instrumentalists, including jazz pianists Art Tatum and George Shearing), but it was their immense talents that made our own lives more meaningful as well. Oh, and before you ask, Roy "Pretty Woman" Orbison was not blind. He just liked to wear sunglasses.

  1. Stevie Wonder. Signed, sealed, delivered, he's blind.
  2. Ray Charles. I actually got to see Ray Charles twice before he passed away. In neither instance did he sing. Unfortunately. He just humbly accepted two of probably hundreds of "career achievement" awards that were given to him near the end of his life.
  3. Blind Lemon Jefferson. There have been many well-known blind blues musicians through the years: Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Boy Fuller, etc. The '90s band Blind Melon took their name from this one.
  4. Andrea Bocelli. Proving that not only blind African Americans can become famous singers, this Italian icon, known for applying his operatic tenor to both schmalz and the classics, is one of the most famous performers in the world today.
  5. Dianne Schuur. Back to the jazz world we go to find Schuur – the only female on the list, and possibly the most famous blind woman since Helen Keller.
  6. José Feliciano. One of the best-known Latino musicians pre-Gloria Estefan, Feliciano is best known for his Christmas hit "Feliz Navidad".
  7. Jeff Healey. This young(ish) Canadian jazz/blues singer plays with his guitar on his lap.
  8. Ronnie Milsap. Country music's first – and possibly only – blind superstar. Doc Watson runs a distant second.
  9. The Five Blind Boys of Alabama. I think it's very interesting how these blind singers cross all musical genres, from pop to jazz to opera to country and, of course, to gospel, the bread and butter of the Five Blind Boys.