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Top 6 Most Famous Blind Singers Of All Time

Some of the most famous blind singers of all time also happen to be incredible musicians. Furthermore, everyone on my list is also a highly accomplished instrumentalist on either the guitar or piano. I’m in awe of their abilities because to be able to play an instrument, even with perfect sight, is no easy thing. 

However, to be able to do so when blind is nothing short of incredible. Hats off and kudos to all the singers on this list for their achievements. Now let’s get to it and take a look at our first famous blind singer

Top 6 Most Famous Blind Singers Of All Time

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder

I’m starting my rundown with Stevie wonder, not only because he’s one of the most famous blind singers ever, but also because he has sold more records than any other blind singer in history. To be precise, he has sold 100 million albums. To give this some context, that’s even more than an artist like Alicia Keyes or Tina Turner.

It was no easy road to get there…

He was born six weeks prematurely in 1950. Sadly, his early birth and the high oxygen content in his incubator, which was common practice at the time, caused retinopathy. In short, the development of his retinas ceased, and so he was born blind.

From a very early age, Stevie Wonder had a strong interest in music. He could play the piano, harmonica, and drums to a high standard by the age of nine. A remarkable achievement for any child. But, for a blind child from birth, it is highly unusual and super impressive.

At the age of eleven, in 1961, he sang an original song to a member of the Motown group, The Miracles. His immense talent was immediately spotted, and after being placed in front of the producers of the Tamala Motown label, he scored a record contract before he even hit his teens.

Staggeringly, just one year later…

 And, only a week after his thirteenth birthday, he got to #1 on the US Billboard Charts with “Fingertips.” The album it was taken from, The 12-Year-Old Genius, also made it to #1 on the album’s charts. A debut hit single and album whilst he was still only twelve years old.

He has subsequently gone on to release 42 albums and 91 singles. At 72, he is also showing no signs of slowing down and continues to be a prolific writer and performer. It should also be noted that he has written many songs for other artists.

To top all of his achievements, he has also won an incredible 25 Grammys. This is the eighth highest of any artist, and it also includes a well-deserved lifetime achievement award. So, yeah, you could say he’s one of the most famous blind singers of all time.

Jeff Healey

Jeff Healey

Jeff Healey was born in 1966. He was a Canadian Blues/Rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He went blind at a very young age due to a rare form of eye cancer. Sadly, at just 41 years of age, the cancer came back and metastasized in his lungs and legs. He died on March the 2nd, 2008.

At just three years old, Jeff Healey began to play guitar. However, he played it in a highly unusual style that, thankfully, no one ever corrected him on. He learned to play by resting the guitar flat on his legs, and that is how he played from that point.

Despite the awkward position, his playing was incredible. He was a master of his instrument and was one of the best guitarists and singers of his generation though vastly underrated and overlooked (no pun intended) by the mainstream.

At just 15 years old…

 Jeff was playing in clubs in Toronto. He was eventually signed by Arista records at 22 as part of The Jeff Healey Band. He released his first album, See the Light, in the same year. It charted at #22 in the US and sold over a million copies.

His follow-up album was Hell to Pay. Less interest was shown in this, as was his following three albums. His final album, Get Me Some, was released in 2000. Despite his incredible talent, The Jeff Healey Band only sold just over two million copies, and most of those were in the US.

In my opinion, his finest musical moment was when he played live, in 1987, with Stevie Ray Vaughan. They played “Look at Little Sister” on a CBS show, and it’s one of the only occasions I can remember seeing Jeff Healey standing up and playing. 

Ray Charles

Most Famous Blind Singers Of All Time

Ray Charles was born in 1930 with perfect sight. He did not go blind until he was seven years old. This was most likely due to untreated or misdiagnosed glaucoma. Fortunately, by the time he lost his sight, he could already play the piano, and his genius as a musician was already established.

He has frequently been referred to as the founder of Soul music. If he was or wasn’t is up for debate. However, what isn’t up for debate is the profound influence he had on music throughout the entirety of his career.

Ray started his career at a young age… 

At just fifteen, he moved to Jacksonville and began playing in clubs and bars. He then moved to Orlando, where he picked up whatever work he could, though things were often tough financially.

Ray got his first major break in 1952 after being picked up by Atlantic Records. He released his first single, “Roll With My Baby,” in the same year that he was signed, but it achieved little commercial success.

His first charting single was “Mess Around,” which was released in 1953 from the album Ray Charles. The single reached #3 on the R&B Billboard charts. The album was released much later in 1957, and contained an impressive eleven Top 10 hits that had been recorded between 1953 and 1957.

Until his death at the age of 73 in 2004…

He released a total of 108 albums and 127 singles. During this time, he scored a handful of #1 singles. The most famous of these, and his first mainstream Billboard #1 hit, was “Georgia on My Mind,” released in 1960. This is my personal favorite and probably his best-known song. 

Additionally, he had two #1 albums, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which was released in 1962, and Genius Loves Company which was a 2004 posthumous release. He sold over ten million albums in total in a career that was not short of drama. 

Ray had a long-time issue with substance abuse. And he found himself on the wrong side of the law on a few occasions for drug possession. A habit that he thankfully managed to kick after a spell in the hospital, followed by a four-month course of rehabilitation. A legendary blind singer no one will ever forget.

Blind Willie Johnson

Blind Willie Johnson

Born in Texas in 1897, there is very little known about his early life. Particularly around the circumstances of losing his sight. It is commonly believed that his stepmother threw a caustic solution into his eyes during an argument with his father when he was just seven years old. But we will never know if that’s true or not.

Blind Willie Johnson specialized in Blues and Gospel music. He had an amazingly deep voice and was an incredible guitar player. More specifically, he was a master of playing slide guitar and was revered for his technique and skill by fellow musicians. 

Furthermore, he is widely regarded as one of the first successful blind Blues singers and one of the founders of Blues music.

A pioneer in music…

Most of his early recordings were made between 1927 and 1930. These were made in a Dallas studio for Columbia Records. The first recording was “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” which was made on the 3rd of December 1927. 

Later, he moved to record in New Orleans, still with Columbia Records. In the first of these sessions, on the 10th of December 1929, he recorded “Bye and Bye I’m Goin’ to See the King.” His final session was on the 20th of April 1930. The first track was “John the Revelator,” and his final recorded piece of music was “Soul of a Man.”

Despite his talent and contribution to music, sadly, Blind Willie Nelson spent much of his life relatively poor. Thankfully, his immense contributions to Blue music were later rediscovered and given the recognition they deserve.

Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli

This guy is an absolute legend of the operatic world. He is not only one of the most famous blind singers of all time but is one of the most famous opera singers of all time too. 

He was born in 1958 with congenital glaucoma. His sight was limited until, at the age of twelve, he lost it completely. This was due to a bizarre accident in which he was hit in the head with a football whilst playing in goal. The strike to his head caused a hemorrhage which ultimately caused him to lose his sight. 

It was a very unfortunate chain of events. However, I have to ask what the hell was he doing playing in goal if he couldn’t see properly.

Despite his loss of sight… 

Andrea was still able to sing, and he began his early career by singing mainly classical music. However, he was also able to play the saxophone, drums, and flute to a high level of competence, which he would do when not singing.

Initially, he didn’t pursue a life in music; instead, he trained as a lawyer at Pisa University. During this time, to help with his tuition fees and living costs, he regularly played in bars and clubs. Whilst studying, he met Enrica Cenzatti, who he later married. They had two children together but later divorced.

His life could have continued down the path of law… 

But fate intervened in the form of the wonderful Italian Rock singer and songwriter Zucchero. In 1992, Zucchero held auditions for singers to appear on a demo tape for a new song he had written intending to sing with Pavarotti. 

Once the tape was made, he sent it, but also encouraged Pavarotti to use Bocelli rather than himself in the recording. Pavarotti did just that, and the song “Miserere” was later released and became a huge hit in Europe.

From this point, Andrea Bocelli never looked back…

He released his first album in 1994, Il Mare Calmo Della Sera. It sold well, going platinum in Belgium and Gold in Holland. However, his second studio album, Bocelli, released in 1995, was altogether more successful. It sold over three million copies and topped the charts in several European countries.

Andrea Bocelli has sold over 80 million albums making him one of the best-selling musicians, sighted or otherwise, of all time. He is in high demand to perform live, and still, in his mid-60s, it looks like he will be with us for plenty of time to come. One of the most popular blind singers to ever grace the stage. Bravo!

Diane Joan Schuur

Diane Joan Schuur

Born in 1953, Diane Joan Schuur, better known as “Deedles,” is a two-time Grammy-winning singer and pianist. She was born prematurely, and, sadly, was blind at birth as a consequence. However, this did not stop her from becoming not only a highly competent pianist but also one of the greatest Jazz vocalists of her era.

Music was in her family, and Jazz was at the center of it… 

Her parents had an extensive Jazz record collection, and she grew up singing and then later playing Jazz standards. Initially, she did all of this by ear, although later on, she learned to read music by Braille.

She began her recording career at 18 with the rather unforgettable song “Dear Mommy and Daddy,” which no one showed any interest in. Then, four years later, she got her second break performing with the Jazz Orchestra, Energy Force. 

However, this didn’t work out as well as she had expected. That was because, at the time, she tended to over-sing and try to put everything she knew into every song, which was just too much.

Rather than be disheartened…

And, to her credit, she went away and worked on her skills for several years playing in small clubs and bars. Then, in 1980, she performed at The Monterrey Jazz Festival. As a consequence, she got invited to The White House to play for a showcase performance. The exposure was all she needed to kick-start her career.

She released her first record, Pilot Of My Destiny, in 1982. This was followed by Deedles in 1984 and Schuur Thing in 1985. To date, she has released a further 20 albums and continues to record and perform live.

Want to Discover More Great Musicians?

If so, take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Female Singers, the Most Famous Black Singers Of The 1970s, the Most Famous Opera Singers Of All Time, the Most Famous Blues Singers, and the Most Famous American Singers Of All Time to hear more incredible vocal performances.

Of course, you’ll want to listen to them. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Noise Isolating Earbuds, the Best True Wireless Earbuds, the Most Comfortable Earbuds, and the Best Cheap Earbuds Under $100 you can buy in 2023.

Most Famous Blind Singers Of All Time – Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. It has been a fascinating journey to look a little more closely at the lives and accomplishments of these amazing artists. Admittedly, my list of the greatest blind singers of all time is relatively short. So, if one of your favorite singers has been omitted, then I apologize. 

Regardless, I’m sure you’ll all agree that the ones that did make the cut have all got incredible talent and have interesting stories to tell too.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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