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 that 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 some of the most famous blind singers, their careers, and the hits that continue to inspire us today.
1. Stevie Wonder (1950-)
Stevie Wonder 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.
Stevie Wonder has a storied career that started when he was just eleven years old.
He is a pioneer in several musical genres, including pop, R&B, soul, and blues, penning hits like ‘Overjoyed,’ ‘I Wish,’ and ‘Higher Ground,’ among other chart-topping classics.
2. Ray Charles (1930-2004)
Ray Charles was 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.’
3. Andrea Bocelli (1958-)
Andrea Bocelli is one of the most famous male opera singers alive today and one of the most recognized blind singers globally.
At 12, Bocelli was hit in the eye with a soccer ball which caused him to eventually go blind.
Andrea 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.’
4. José Feliciano (1962-)
Born the fourth of eleven 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 well known 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.’
5. Clarence Carter (1936-)
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.”
6. Ginny Owens (1975-)
Ginny Owens is 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.
7. Ronnie Lee Milsap (1943-)
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 number one hits when they were released.
Milsap still tours and releases studio albums to this day.
8. Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929)
Born in 1893, Blind Lemon Jefferson was an accomplished American blues singer deemed the “Father of the Texas Blues” and possibly the most famous blind singer of the early 20th century.
Jefferson was known for his unique singing voice, 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.
9. Gilbert Montagne (1951-)
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 U.S. 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 number one single, “The Fool,” which topped global charts for several years running.
10. Blind Blake (1896-1934)
Blind Blake was 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 well-regarded by many musicians for his unique guitar skills and spoken-word singing style.
11. Al Hibbler (1915-2001)
Al Hibbler was an American vocalist of the 20th century, famous for singing baritone in Duke Ellington’s orchestra and several other notable musicians.
He was born in 1915 Mississippi, and an unknown condition rendered him blind since birth.
After leaving Ellington’s band after a dispute over his wages, Hibbler 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.
12. Blind Willie McTell (1898-1959)
Taking the final 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 30s and 40s.
One of his most well-known works, “Statesboro Blues,” was famously covered by The Allman Brothers Band.