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Blind Musician Graham Norwood finds accessibility in the music industry

By Katy Brennan, Digital Content Manager

Image Description: Norwood, wearing a blue suit and black and white polka dot tie, sings at a concert. (Photo courtesy of Graham Norwood)

Image Description: Norwood, wearing a blue suit and black and white polka dot tie, sings at a concert. (Photo courtesy of Graham Norwood)

“Playing it by ear” is Graham Norwood’s specialty as he takes on the traditional music industry, with a twist: Norwood is legally blind.

From his early days, Norwood has always had a musical ear. He began his musical journey by learning piano at age 7, but soon moved to guitar; he has played guitar every day since.

While his introduction to music was pretty typical, Norwood most definitely is not your average musician. Since a young age, he has had a degenerative retinal condition which causes him to be legally blind. Yet, to him, his blindness is no barrier.

“If you can play the part or sing the song there’s no real barriers of prejudice… music is this level playing field where blind people can succeed without prejudice,” Norwood said.

If anything, his disability has proven to be helpful in his industry. It has made him a “more auditory person” in an industry that is extremely accessible if you have the skills. He strongly believes that disability is just an obstacle that builds character.

“People with disabilities tend to be good problem solvers. They have to work around what other people take for granted which is the heart of what diversability means for me,” Norwood stated.  “Every one of us is endowed with certain strengths (and weaknesses too!) that manifest in different ways. I think that a person's disability is often -- though by no means always -- a factor or influence on what their strength may be.”

He is currently finishing three EP’s that are anticipated for release later this year; it is currently planned that the first two EP’s will be out in the next few months with the third soon to follow.

Currently, Norwood performs around two shows a month, in addition to a few other shows with some classic country singers. He is excited to continue to share his music with the world and to encourage other blind musicians to follow in his footsteps.

He explained that he wants other musicians with disabilities to know that “it [music] is a pretty open landscape. If you have the ability, people will judge you for your musical skills instead of your disability. I would definitely encourage people to develop their skills instead of worrying about other people’s perspectives.”

It is clear that to Norwood, playing music is a common ground that everyone can appreciate, no matter their ability. He said that he finds music to be extremely “accessible” to everyone and feels that it brings people together.

“Music to me is very much the universal language,” said Norwood. “You don't need to speak the same language as someone to like the same music.”

He will continue to speak this universal language in the months to come when he releases his EP’s. His music will be available on Spotify, iTunes, and his website, so he hopes that he will be able to keep it accessible in the literal sense as well.

Overall, Norwood will continue to explore the level playing field that music has given him in the future and implores others to follow in his footsteps.

You can read more about Norwood and follow his music here: