OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
In a not-for-profit project to raise awareness and understanding for the issues surrounding visual impairment and sight loss, Marie Naffah – a London based singer/songwriter and winner of MTV’s Unsigned Artist award 2014 – has teamed up with a group of six blind and visually-impaired musicians to record and release for free her song ‘Blindfold’: as a documentary-style video exploring the disability and the importance of music to those who suffer from it. The song itself was written by Marie, 22, as a response to her grandmother’s experience with blindness and the implications it had had on her life and the lives around her. Having performed the song to senior BBC broadcast journalist Tony Shearman, who is also blind, Marie was invited to play and be interviewed on Insight Radio – the official radio station of the Royal National Institute of Blindness (RNIB).
Steve Plowman, a blind drummer living just outside of London, heard Marie on Insight Radio and contacted her to offer congratulations for what he considered to be a unique insight into blindness from someone who does not suffer from the disability. Impressed by the poignancy of the lyrics, as well as the tuneful song itself, he asked Marie whether there would be an opportunity for him to perform it with her.
With help from the RNIB, five more blind and partially sighted musicians expressed interest in the project, and so it was decided that a documentary/recording of the track would be made: to emphasise the importance of music in the lives of visually-impaired people and to show how, contrary to public opinion, a disability such as blindness does not automatically prevent a person from being able to perform music. Following rehearsals at the RNIB, the track was recorded at a studio in High Wycombe, with huge and invaluable help from music producer David Lane.
The 12 minute documentary, made by filmmaker Constance Meath-Baker, consists of a series of interviews with the musicians followed by the recorded track itself. It is also accompanied by a podcast. The Blindfold band is made up of seven musicians: Marie Naffah, 22, vocalist and songwriter, Steve Plowman, drummer, Antonio de Lillis, guitarist, Ricky James, vocalist, Rob Ellard, guitarist, Kevin Satizabal, piano, Ashley Cox, drummer.
Marie Naffah, the songwriter and lead singer, comments: “It is important to reiterate that this project was not for profit. The purpose of it, aside from to enjoy meeting these amazing musicians and hearing their stories, was to raise awareness for the various forms of blindness, and to highlight the amazing attitudes and talents of the people who live with them. I wanted to show to people how suffering from blindness does not automatically remove the ability to be creative and successful. The societal assumption is often a condescending one, when in fact these musicians are some of the most talented that I have ever worked with. It was important to bring this sentiment into the the public domain – so the greater population can begin to understand that by patronising and feeling awkward towards visually-impaired people it only further reinforces a feeling they might have of ‘being different’.”