They Can’t See, But They Can Sing! Blind Band Members Enthrall Crowd on Kudla Street

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They Can’t See, But They Can Sing! Blind Band Members Enthrall Crowd on Kudla Street

Mangaluru: In order to become a famous musician today, you have to jump a lot of hoops. Even though technology is available that would enable one to compose and produce their own music easily when it comes to marketing and convincing fans that your music is good, you need to make a substantial investment. There are many people who have taken up opportunities like singing competitions with the purpose of winning a coveted price only to become famous and make music their chosen career. Others have begun in humble beginnings but thanks to video popularity, they have finally attained their dream.

Have you ever thought how difficult it is to be a famous musician especially when you are visually impaired? It is not easy as you may think but thanks to the passion, dedication, and help from many mentors, several have attained their dream and become renowned around the world. They say that if you lose one sense, the other four become stronger. Looking at the list of some of the famous blind people it would seem that the old adage is true. Many famous blind people have become successful and influential musicians. Several others have become successful athletes, politicians, actors and so on.

Who is the most famous blind person? Singer Stevie Wonder tops the list. The “I Just Called To Say I Love You” singer has been blind since shortly after his birth, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most successful musicians of all time. Wonder was a child prodigy and he had his first hit song at age 13. Since then he has had over 50 top 40 singles and he has influenced hundreds of musicians. Other famous musicians who are also blind include singers like Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli and Jose Feliciano. Do you think that being blind helped these famous men and women find even more success?

Surely it has, and for that matter, when our govt/politicians have turned a “Blind Eye” or probably blind towards the blind people, here are a bunch of blind people who decide to stand on their own feet, without begging for aid from the govt, by starting their own music group, and enthralling the crowd on streets, at functions and mini-concerts. And they are a phenomenon, who have been receiving loud applause from all quarters. Team Mangalorean had the opportunity to interact with this Blind Band members, during one of their street-side performance near Kadri Market, a couple of days ago.

These blind folks, totally around 15 of them, hailing from Sringeri and in the vicinity of Chikkamagaluru district, who were very much fascinated and had passion towards music wanted to start a Music Group of their own, after being fed up with the promises made by the govt to help them, but nothing had materialized. Without wasting more of their precious time, they decided to form the ” Sri Sharada Andhara Geethagayana Kala Sangha (Sri Sharada Blind Singers’ Association) in Kanchinagara, Sringeri Ashraya colony in Chikkamagaluru district, eight months ago.

Even though their Band was formed in Sringeri, they opted to move out from there, and make Mangaluru their new destination, since they believed that there were better prospects and earning in Mangaluru- and also that the local people here are very generous and courteous. And for the last eight months, the members of this Group have been staying in a rented three-bedroom apartment in Karmar-Bajal, in the outskirts of Mangaluru. And to transport them around in the city, these blind folks were lucky enough to find two Good Samaritans- Nityananda Shetty, who owns a rickshaw, takes them around for their errands, and also makes arrangements for the sound system from local firms. The other person, Ganesh Kunder, who owns an Omni vehicle also helps the group in reaching their performance venues- and both these vehicle owners charge them very reasonable fares for transportation.

Ever since their Band inception 8 months ago, the Band members have given over 100 performances in and around Mangaluru- and beyond. They have also performed in Kaup and Udupi recently. Even though the band comprises of 15 members, only nine had decided to move to Mangaluru. The nine members are- Shivamallu, a BA graduate is the director of the and hailing from Mysuru; Yogish, the president of the band, done his PUC hailing from Tiptur; Vice President Krishna, also done his PUC hailing from Tarikere; Secretary-Manjunath, a BA graduate from Chennarayapatanna; Treasurer-Jyothi, from Kerekatte, done her PUC; other members are- Kiran Kumar, done diploma in Guided Education is from Tumkur; Anil Naki from Karwar, has passed SSLC; Narayan from Belagavi, done his BA/BA in Music, he owes his gratitude to Pandit Puttaraja who taught him music; and Ramesh from Madikeri, has completed SSLC.

Since these members hail from different regions and communities, they can sing in various languages like Kannada, Tulu, Marathi, Hindi and also Konkani. Jyothi is Udupi girl sings mostly Tulu and Kannada songs. Even though the govt provides 3% reservation for blind people, but persons like the above blind, even though having education are deprived of jobs, and the only hope for them is to find some source of income through self-employment- and that’s the only reason they formed this Band, and are happy that they made the right decision.

LOVE IS BLIND: As the proverb says “Love is Blind” means that a person who is in love can see no faults or imperfections in the person whom he or she loves. And for that matter, here in this group, we have Yogish who has married his love Jyothi, who fell in love during their college days at Lal Bahadur Shastri College in Chikkamagaluru. When asked where they went on their honeymoon, both blushingly replied, “Nowhere, spend some time in the parks in Chikkamagaluru enjoying the sounds of nature”. While Manjunath has married Sudha, and Kiran Kumar has married Manjula, both these women are perfect without any disabilities. No wonder Love is Blind, no matter what you are, and how you look or if you are a handicap. Ramesh had married Sharada, who is also blind. Narayan will be pretty soon marrying his sweetheart, which will kind of a love and an arranged marriage. While few other group members have either married normal women, some have wedlocked with blind. But they are all happily married.

Yogish seen with his wife Jyothi

The band, when they perform on the streets, earn around Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 collection donated by the crowd- at the recent performance near Kadri Market-Mangaluru, the band collected Rs 15K plus, during their nearly 3 hours performance. If someone wants to hire them for a musical concert, the Band charges Rs 15,000, including sound/generator (Rs 7000), but if the party arranges sound/generator that amount will be less from their charges. But the Band members give a very good performance, since they all have good singing talents/voices, and can play musical instruments well. Their show near Kadri Market was simply awesome, which received loud applaud from the crowd.

When asked what they want to share with the readers of, Shivamallu and Yogish said, ” We want the citizens to think that we are also humans like them, even though we are blind. Let there not be discrimination between the blind and the normal. Be it the blind people or other disabled persons, we too hold a very special place in the society. We are also able to catch the emotions of other folks easily and hence our presence in the community makes it more effective. We need the love and affectionate of the people, and we are very grateful to the people around here who have been very supportive and helped us in our day to day life. Also our sincere thanks to for making us known to the society that “Blind People” also can make their dream come true, if there is determination and will. Thank you all”

For more details or band performance, you can call: 9480591770; 8277699352; 9980316858

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