When thinking about well-known blind singers, there are probably a few names that come to mind. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles are probably top of the list, but there are a lot more out there who have overcome their lack of sight to bring their music to the world.
These amazing singers show that you don’t need to be able to see to sing, wowing us with their incredible musical talents through the decades. Keep reading if you want to learn more about 13 of the greatest and most famous blind singers, their careers, and the hits that continue to inspire us today.
1. Stevie Wonder
We begin with Stevie Wonder, who is considered by most to be one of the greatest singers to ever live, regardless of his ability to see.
Born six weeks premature in 1950, Wonder developed a condition that stopped the growth of his eyes, rendering him blind. Nevertheless, Wonder has had a storied career that started when he was just 11 years old. Since then, he has pioneered several musical genres, including pop, R&B, soul, and blues.
Some well-known hits he has penned includes “Overjoyed,” “I Wish,” and “Higher Ground,” among other chart-topping classics. To date, Wonder continues to inspire and influence musicians worldwide, his legacy an extraordinary testament to the power of musical innovation and the spirit of resilience.
2. Ray Charles
Up next is Ray Charles, a legendary blind pianist and singer who is as iconic today as he was talented when he was alive. Charles was stricken with glaucoma at the young age of six, rendering him blind for the rest of his life.
However, Charles always maintained that his visual impairment was never much of an obstacle to his career as a singer. His catalog of classics includes “Georgia on My Mind” and “Unchain My Heart.”
Despite his passing in 2004, Charles’s legacy endures, influencing generations of musicians and music lovers alike. His induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, and the Country Music Hall of Fame speaks volumes about the breadth and impact of his work.
3. Andrea Bocelli
One of the most famous male opera singers alive today and one of the most recognized blind singers globally is Andrea Bocelli. At 12, he was hit in the eye with a soccer ball, which caused him to eventually go blind.
Bocelli is very well known for his blend of pop and opera music, resulting in his unique compositions and singing range. Some of his most popular hits include “Viva Ya” and “Sogno.”
His achievements are numerous and varied, including multiple Grammy Award nominations and an impressive number of record sales surpassing 80 million. Bocelli continues to perform around the globe to this day.
4. José Feliciano
Born the fourth of 11 children, singer and guitarist José Feliciano was born blind. He and his family moved to New York City from Puerto Rico when he was five, and there he developed his skill as a guitarist and singer.
Today, Feliciano is reknowned worldwide for his guitar skills but is also praised for his incredible singing voice. He’s one of the most well-known blind singers alive today, known for songs like “Just Because” and “California Dreaming.”
Despite being one of the most accomplished blind musicians of our time, Feliciano’s legacy transcends his disability. His work has paved the way for artists of Latin descent, proving that with passion and perseverance, barriers can be overcome.
5. Clarence Carter
Born blind in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1936, Clarence Carter took to music from a young age. Together with his friend and classmate, Calvin Scott, Carter went on to form the C&C Boys, then a successful solo career through the mid-1970s.
Carter’s most recognized song is “Slip Away,” a meditative R&B ballad with enormous depth and range, widely considered a masterpiece. You might also know him for his other songs like “Back Door Santa” and “Patches.”
Although his commercial success waned towards the end of the ’70s, his influence and legacy in soul music have endured. He has been recognized for his contributions to the genre and was rightfully inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2003.
6. Ginny Owens
Up next, we have Ginny Owens, a famous contemporary Christian music singer who was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1975. She was unfortunately born with a degenerative eye condition, which rendered her blind by the age of three.
Owens experienced some hardship as a blind singer after graduating from Belmont University with a degree in music. She was eventually signed to Rocketown records and has produced several records that reached Billboard Top 100 Charts.
Her journey serves as a powerful reminder that talent, combined with determination, can triumph over adversity. Owen’s success as a blind singer and songwriter in a competitive industry stands as an encouragement to others facing similar challenges, proving that barriers can be broken and dreams can be realized.
7. Ronnie Lee Milsap
Considered one of country music’s greatest singers, Ronnie Lee Milsap was born with a congenital disorder that left him almost completely blind by 14. He dove into music to cope, first writing R&B songs and then moving on to country.
His most famous works include “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me” and “Stranger in My House,” both of which were #1 hits when they were released in 1981 and 1983, respectively.
As we enter 2024, Milsap continues to be an active figure in music. His dedication to his craft is evident in his persistent touring schedule and his commitment to producing new music.
8. Blind Lemon Jefferson
Born in 1893, Blind Lemon Jefferson was an accomplished American blues singer. He was deemed the Father of Texas Blues and possibly the most famous blind singer of the early 20th century.
Jefferson was known for his unique singing voice, which was higher-pitched than other popular blues singers of the time. His greatest hits include “Bad Luck Blues” and “Broke and Hungry.”
His music was often inspired by his experience growing up as a blind black man in the racist American South. Today, Jefferson’s legacy endures in the countless artists who cite him as an inspiration and in the rich tapestry of American music that followed in his wake.
9. Gilbert Montagne
A native Parisian, Gilbert Montagne is a famous French singer who was born blind in 1951. While he doesn’t have much acclaim in the US or Britain, Montagne is well-known as an accomplished pop singer across Europe and South America.
Although he’s produced several hit tracks throughout his career, he’s best known for his #1 single “The Fool,” which topped global charts for several years running.
Throughout his long-standing career, Montagné has produced numerous hits that showcase his versatility as an artist. From disco-inspired tracks in the late 1970s to more contemporary pop songs, his ability to adapt and evolve with the music industry has kept him relevant and much-loved by his fans.
10. Blind Blake
Next is Blind Blake, a famous blind guitarist and singer from the early 20th century. There isn’t much known about his life, but that’s what makes Blind Blake so interesting.
We do know that he was born blind in either Jacksonville, Florida, or Newport News, Virginia. Blake made recordings for Paramount Records from 1926 to 1932, many of which became popular radio hits of the time.
Today, Blake is celebrated for his innovative guitar style, which has inspired generations of blues, ragtime, and folk musicians. His music remains a touchstone for those seeking to understand the roots of American blues and the early development of guitar virtuosity within the genre.
11. Al Hibbler
Up next we have another American vocalist of the 20th century, Al Hibbler. He was born in 1915 Mississippi, and an unknown condition rendered him blind since birth.
Hibbler was most notable for singing baritone in Duke Ellington’s orchestra and several other notable musicians. After leaving Ellington’s band after a dispute over his wages, he went on to forge a successful solo and collaborative career.
He’s best known for “Unchained Melody,” which has been covered many times by famous singers through the decades. The most widely recognized version is the one performed by The Righteous Brothers, which featured in the hit 1990 film Ghost.
12. Blind Willie McTell
Taking the penultimate spot on our list of blind singers is Blind Willie McTell, a talented blues singer who is well regarded by musicians but never achieved commercial success. He was born blind in one eye and then eventually became fully blind by the end of his childhood.
McTell never had any chart-topping singles, but he did have an extensive catalog of recordings made during the 1930s and ’40s. One of his most well-known works, “Statesboro Blues,” was famously covered by The Allman Brothers Band.
Even without the commercial accolades, Blind Willie McTell’s mastery of the twelve-string guitar and his soulful, expressive singing style continue to influence musicians and captivate audiences long after his passing.
13. Putri Ariani
Closing this list is Putri Ariani. Born in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, this remarkable singer faced tremendous challenges early in life, becoming blind at just three months old. Despite this, she hasn’t let her lack of sight hinder her musical journey.
Ariani became a household name when she participated in the 18th season of America’s Got Talent, where her singing prowess earned her a coveted Golden Buzzer. Putri’s journey on the show was a significant one, and she finished as a finalist, coming in fourth place.
Although she did not win the competition, the love and support she received from her home country of Indonesia and viewers worldwide spoke volumes about her influence and the imprint she made with her voice and story.
Summing Up Our List Of Amazing Blind Singers
And that’s a wrap! From the soul-stirring melodies of Stevie Wonder to the contemporary performances of Putri Ariani, these artists have overcome their visual impairments to touch the hearts of millions. Their talent proves that vision is not a requirement for seeing the true beauty of music.
As we celebrate these extraordinary blind singers, we acknowledge that there might be many more talented artists out there that we haven’t mentioned. Dear readers, share your favorite blind musicians who have moved and motivated you with us, and we’ll add them to the list!