Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Reid My Mind Radio: At the Intersection of Black and Blind

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Many would assume growing up blind in the 1950’s & 60’s had its challenges. What about growing up Black and Blind attending a segregated school for the blind?

Robert Lewis at work at the Radio Reading Network of Maryland

In this latest Reid My Mind Radio you hear from the Executive Director of the Radio Reading Network of Maryland, Robert Lewis.

We talk about;

  • Attending a segregated school for the blind
  • How being blind saved his life
  • Playing music with Stevie Wonder and much more.

Plus in the special podcast edition, we include some of his personal music suggestions for those times when you just need a lift!

 

Subscribe bit.ly/RMMRadioSubscribe

 

Press Play below to Listen now!

 

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:Happy New Year!

I know some of us are not feeling that happy in 2017 and possibly longer. I don’t know like 4 years!
Well, as long as we’re not six feet under or my personal favorite stuffed into an ern sitting on a mantle… we’re good and we can make things happen.
We can fight…fight the power!
But first a new Gatewave piece I know you’re going to like and some extra immediately following!
Hit me!

[Audio: RMMRadio Theme Music]

 

TR:
Meet Robert Lewis, the Executive Director of the Radio Reading Network of Maryland. With over 35 years in the business, he is more than qualified to run the network. We’ll hear more on that, but it’s his life experiences that are truly compelling and offer a glimpse to what it was like growing up as an African American attending a segregated school for the blind.

 

RL:
I went to the Maryland School for the Blind, here in Baltimore Maryland. It was a wonderful place to go to school. I started there in 1954. It was a nice school but in the very beginning there was one side for the blacks and one side for the whites. And you were not allowed to sleep on the white campus . The two races went together for school but after that we would go our separate ways the first couple of years that I was there. That’s the way they had the whole setup.

Things were done to you or things were done that would not be tolerated today.

In the beginning they wouldn’t  buy Black kids Braille writers and things of that nature until like 50’s or more like in the 60’s. They started doing some things for Black kids that they didn’t do before and they would do them for the white kids.

You would be surprised what we had to deal with  in the 50’s and 60’s in a blind school.

 

TR:
The discrimination, limited social interactions, like at parties.

RL
As soon as we started to dance with one of the  white girls, the party was over. That party was ended!
They weren’t going to have that.

Society makes people prejudice. If they had left us alone it would never had happen, but because the teachers and because of the house parents and so forth  letting you know that you were black, who cared?
The students didn’t care!

The Lion’s Club used to come out and deal with us.
And at one time the Lion’s Club did not deal with Black kids.

 

TR:
the discrimination lead to varying degrees of abuse.

During a school Halloween party, a member of the Lions Club was responsible for guiding Robert to his chair.

 

RL:

He grabbed both my arms and walked me backwards to the chair.
I’m a 6 year old kid and this is a full grown man and he was squeezing my arms as hard as he could to try and make me cry and I said to myself he’s trying to hurt me but I’m not going to let him know that it hurt. So I didn’t and after he got me to the chair he pushed me down with a little bit of force. That was his way of saying well I don’t really like doing this or I don’t like Black people and I don’t like Black kids.

 

TR:
There was the even more abusive punishments dealt out by those charged with protecting and educating blind children.

 

RL:
Some of the Black kids were punished to the point that we had to stand out in the hall at night with no clothes on.
First we didn’t understand it but then we realized that the person that was doing that may have had a little problem on the side.

 

TR:
The discrimination continued as Robert traveled outside of the state competing with the school Wrestling team. He recalls, they couldn’t eat in restaurants.

 

RL:
We went to one restaurant and the lady said you got to eat as fast as you can so we can get you out of here before the owner comes  back because if he saw we had Black people here he would fire me!

 

TR:
In North Carolina, it was more than getting a meal.

 

RL:
Guys jumped out of the car and came over and they were going to beat us
all up.
We had no idea … What is this all about? Is it because we are blind; no, it’s  because you’re black and you’re blind!

 

TR:
Eventually, the segregation came to an end. The children lived together.

At first the parents were very upset about it and they didn’t really want it but  in order for the school to get money from the state, they had to integrate the school.

 

TR:
Remember, Robert described the time he spent at the Maryland School for the Blind as wonderful. Discrimination and racism were just a part of his school life.

We had a lot of terrible things that we dealt with but  we also had good things because we had a lot of white friends that we went to school with that would do anything in the world for us.

Maryland School for the Blind had one of the best wrestling and track teams in the country so we went all over the place.
We learned so much and we had so much fun as far as the students together.
We had a really good soul band good jazz band.
I grew up with the Beatles . I grew up with the platters. I grew up with Elvis Presley.
Some of the kids that were white, we learned their music and they learned ours.
I would come home and my sister would say here comes the little white boy!

 

TR:
In some sense, Robert really does straddle two identities. Not black and white, but rather black and blind.
The intersection of the two present a fully unique experience.

As a young African American growing up in Baltimore Maryland in the 1950’s and 60’s , Robert observed the events taking place in his neighborhood from a different perspective.

 

RL:
I heard one day when the police came out and they sicked the Shepard on the neighborhood and one guy named frank grabbed the dog around his neck and killed him.
You could hear in the wagon, you could hear the beating he was getting.

 

TR:
The wagon he refers to is the police patty wagon used to round up and transport suspects charged with criminal acts.
Robert says that the recent episodes of police brutality in cities like Baltimore aren’t new.

RL:

When they would beat the kids in the wagon, you could hear the wagon going up and down. if they wanted to find out  if you were telling the truth they would take a phone book and put it on top of your head and then hit it with a police stick. And there were no scars. What they would do is open the window.  they’d say you can tell us what we need to know or you can jump out the window. or take the beating.

 

TR:
Once , the additional identity of being blind could have possibly saved his life. As a young boy traveling in the car with his family, he recalls when an officer stopped his father for speeding.

 

RL:
the police was giving my father a ticket and I reached out to touch his gun and the policeman stepped back and drew his gun to shoot me. My father said oh please don’t shoot my son, he’s blind. And the policeman said oh he’s blind? So he took the bullets out of the gun and put it in my hand and let me play with it . He said, I’m not going to give you a ticket I’ll let you go this time. He said, but every day  for the next week I want you to buy your son an ice cream cone and every night for the rest of the week he’d come by the neighborhood and say did your father  buy you an ice cream?

 

TR:
By no means was Robert’s childhood full of violence.
residing on the school campus during the week, he returned home on weekends.

RL:
Man it was fun because I could come home and tell  them what I learned as far as in school, but then I could get on the roller skates and skate up and down the sidewalk and ride my two wheel bike. My grandfather was a mechanic, I had my hands inside automobiles. My mother would take me to the five and dime store and let me buy a toy. She treated me just like she did all of her other kids. My cousin Mack Lewis had a boxing gym in Baltimore. He was a very well-known manager of boxing. He would train Larry Middleton Vincent Pettway… some of the big time boxers. I would go over to the gym and listen to the guys box. I’d go around listening to musicians. I went over to the stable and rode the horses. I could honestly say I felt just like any kid that could see because I really think I had some angels looking out for me. I really enjoyed hearing things and dealing with things that I dealt with  you know in the neighborhood. Friday nights and Saturday nights was a great time because everybody had a good time. They had crab feasts. They’d walk up and down the street.

 

TR:{In conversation with Robert.}
So you were not at all isolated. You were definitely part of the community  it sounds like.

 

RL:
I was part of the community, yes!

 

TR:
Community, in his neighborhood, school and even activities that lead to lifelong passions like music.

 

RL:
I got my start playing marching band music. I played Sousaphone in the band. I played the Base Drum and from there I went to a complete drum kit. Being totally blind and a drummer, drummer’s completely different than other musicians. When you go and tell people you are blind and you play drums … I told one guy and he said I mean, I could see you playing the horn, but ain’t no way in the world I can see you playing the drum set cause you blind. How you gonna find the drums and the cymbals. I play an 18 piece drum kit! I’m a very good drummer.

I played with 15 and 18 piece bands.

I played with Stevie before.

 

TR:
So we’re clear, he’s talking about Stevie Wonder.

 

RL:
He came to the Maryland School for the Blind and we played  together.

 

TR:
Today, Robert is back on the campus of the Maryland School for the blind.
Not with the school, but rather in his job with the Maryland Radio Reading  Network, a radio reading service for the blind and others with print disabilities.

 

RL:
I started as a board operator and I’d go to work and people would whisper and say is he blind? This is a radio reading service but they had no blind people working there. I started as a board operator and moved up the ladder and I became the Executive Director.

 

TR :
Some of his responsibilities?

 

RL:
Fundraising, directing,   , setting up all the program, fire those that need to be fired or hire the people that need to be hired.

 

TR: {In conversation with Robert}
What would you say are the aspects of your specific experience  that have either helped or make your job more challenging?

 

RL:
The hardest thing is proving things to people. Proving what you can do.
If I ask someone for money and they’ll say to me well what do you do at the station? How do you know if you’re on the air or not? Or how do you know what time it is? And after a while, all of these stupid questions just get to you but, you can’t let people know they’re getting to you because they really don’t know. So you have to answer those questions as polite and as nice as you can do it. You have to be nice to people and after a while I wouldn’t say you get tired of being nice, sometimes you get tired of the way people talk down to you

I love my job and I like what I’m doing. If I sit home retired I’ll probably weigh a thousand pounds.  so I’m trying to avoid that  or find something else to do probably go into some music, but right now my whole job is what I do now with the radio station and part-time  stereo sales.

 

TR:
This is Thomas Reid
{James Brown’s “Say it Loud”
“Say it loud, I’m black”
Simultaneously…
RL:
Your Black and Blind…
James Brown’s “… And Proud!
{}

for Gatewave Radio…

Audio for Independent Living!

[Audio from : KRS1 “We’re not done” “We’re not Done”… “Check this out” from “You Must Learn”]

 

TR:The intersection between disability and race, gender and other identities is something I’d like to explore more.

It’s now part of my own life experience and with people with disabilities being the largest minority group, it’s probably an effective way to promote disability related issues.

If any of these apply to you and you have a story to share or know of someone who does, please send me an email…
ReidMyMindRadio@gmail.com.

It was a real pleasure speaking with Mr. Lewis and I hope to do so again. I can just imagine all of the other stories he could share.

In fact, there are more stories that were not included in the Gatewave piece.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain the level of ignorance people display in response to blindness or disability.

Some of the stories can be entertaining, but often they’re confusing. And as I like to say, you can’t make sense from nonsense.

As you heard in the end of the Gatewave  piece, Robert sells stereo equipment part time. After selling some equipment, he called the customer to check in with him two weeks after the sale.

 

RL:
He said, as long as you live please don’t ever call me. I said, don’t ever call you again? He said no, because I have to have eye surgery next week.

TR:
Ohhhhhh!

RL:
… and I know it’s only because I bought that equipment from you.

I said to him, did it rub off?
{laughing!!!}

He said please never, NEVER, never call me again!

I said, OK!

 

TR:

Recently I was reminded about someone who I knew for years, who didn’t say this to me but definitely treated me as if I were contagious!

And like Robert said…

 

RL:
Ok!

 

TR:

I wanted to end the conversation  on a positive note because we all know those haters are going to hate and ignorance is out here!

Plus it would only be right especially profiling someone who has been through all that he has and refers to his experience as wonderful. That’s an optimist folks!

I asked Mr. Lewis to give me some music recommendations. I thought I’d pass them on to the podcast listeners who enjoy a variety of music.

 

RL:
I don’t really listen to a lot of the new stuff.
If you’re a gospel person I consider the older gospel like Aretha Franklin or James Cleveland to be outstanding. If you really want to get into the going back into the world and listening to oldies but goodies and things of that nature think songs like “What’s to become of the broken hearted”. robins had some really good stuff out. “The Masters Call” It talks about a situation that a guy got involved with and was able to find god. When I’m really down if I want to hear something nice I listen to “Palisades Park” by Freddie Boom Boom  Canon which really is a very nice song to give you a little bit of upbeat or some things by gene Pitney  or things like that really will help you, inspire you music wise. Just getting a boost. Even down to Leslie Gore. I don’t mean songs like “It’s my party” but I mean really good songs that she did that were just outstanding; “Love and spoonful”. The Temptations had an unbelievable bunch of songs that really move me. I mean I love music. There’s so much music that that I really really enjoy. When you look at big bands sounds. I think one of the best instrumentals that I ever heard  in my life was Jimmy Smith’s “Mojo”. And only because no one plays an organ like Jimmy Smith. No one can move their hands and feet like he does; God bless the musician! He was unbelievable!
If you listen to that song and you listen to his right hand what he’s doing with his right hand is beyond what a musician can do. I enjoy so much of the old stuff. I mean Mandrill. I like a horn section. I love tower of Power. Ray Charles’ band moved media also have to put Jimi Hendrix in that line up. There’s so much harmony in some of the groups that came out of England. Crosby, Still, Nash &young. To me Cold Blood has an unbelievable band. They have Lydia Pense who sings for them. Oh my God that girl can sing!
James Brown’s band was fantastic. More so than his singing. His band was as tight as they come. But Ten Wheel Drive is also another tight band to listen to. And also Gail McCormick and Smith. They took the version of the Shirelle’s Baby it’s you. They have a horn section there that is fantastic. There’s nothing like 8 or 9 horns playing together like that . Like Tower Power does… My dream someday would be to play a song with Tower of Power or Ten Wheel Drive. These guys are tight!

 

TR:
Now before you go to your choice of music apps and begin listening to some of these suggestions, do yourself a favor and head over to your podcast app and subscribe to Reid My Mind Radio. It’s good for your mind, your body and your soul!

Peace!

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Reid My Mind Radio – Rizzle Razzle Year End Special

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Taking over the Reid My Mind Radio Studio once again for a year end special…Rizzle Razzle.
I asked for your help in convincing my daughters to let me be a part of their end of year wrap up. This year, they cover music, iPhone apps and phrases. Find out who made their lists. Find out if I made the show!

Reid My Mind Radio: Her Voice is Her Business

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

 

Satauna Howery in the booth

With the unemployment rate among people who are blind or visually impaired said to be somewhere between 50 and 75 percent, owning your own business can be a great way to control your own financial freedom.

Today meet voice over artist Satauna Howery. She’s one of the winners of the Hadley Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship and Employment’s New Ventures Competition.

For that and more make sure you Subscribe to RMM Radio
Can’t wait? Hit the Play button below!

 

Resources:

Check out the talking baby commercial as mentioned in the piece…

 

Transcript:

 

TR:
There are some real advantages to operating your own business.
Besides being your own boss;
– You are doing something you enjoy!
– You can make your own schedule
– You have the potential for significant financial reward

The Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship, part of The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, recently awarded a total of 25thousand dollars  to three winners of their first New Venture Competition.

I spoke with Colleen Wunderlich, the director of the  Forsythe Center who says the goal of the competition was to incentivize their students to move forward with their business plans.

CW:
We had about 20 applicants. Students had to submit a business plan with all the components; financial plan and the market research. We had a panel of three judges. One of our judges is blind and was in the rehab field for much of his life. He was an entrepreneur. Our other two judges  were entrepreneurs as well. I wanted our judges to be people who have lost and won in business because that’s really were the lessons are learned.

TR:
Three finalists were chosen and flown out to Chicago for one last in person interview with the judges.

Meet one of the winners of the New Venture Competition

SH:
My name is Satauna Howery and I’m a voice actor, so I talk all day for a living which is really fun! [Fading giggle!]

TR:
It’s fun, but her voice is her business.

SH:
I work for anybody who needs a voice. When you walk in the store  and you hear those people come over the intercom sometimes there people and sometimes it’s just a commercial telling you what the specials are for the week. Somebody said that! And somebody got paid to say that. Voice works spans the gambit of all sorts of things. Audio books, I do radio and TV ads… I do “crazy video game characters [Said in a high pitched cartoon voice]or animated cartoon kinds of things. Audio description, that’s gotta be voiced. I’ve done “Mosha and the Bear”, “F is for Family” and “Lego Friends” for Netflix. I do a lot of corporate work. So people will want to explain their products through video. There’s a lot of E-Learning out there, I’ve read more Conflict of interest resolution manuals.
TR:
And just how exactly does she accomplish all of this?

SH:
I get the script via email on a Braille display. I have this four by six Whisper room booth that I sit in and I’m in front of a microphone which is connected to my computer and I record directly into the computer and I edit and clean it up and I send it to the client.

With natural gifts and interests, Satauna was well equipped for a career as a voice over artist.

SH:
My parents brought a piano home when I was two and I started playing with my thumbs…[Giggle] then I went to nursery school and I came home and figured out that I could play with all my fingers. I didn’t start formal training  until I was about seven. And I only took about four  years of formal classical training before I came to my parents and decided I wanted to just quit and be my own person.

When I was a kid I had my own recording studio. My Dad built that. It was actually a separate building from our house. I engineered and arranged for other people and I certainly wrote music on my own.
It actually took me a while to come into the digital world, but I eventually got there . So doing voice over I had the skills to do all of the editing and that kind of thing. I understood how to make all of it work.

TR:
As a teen Satauna dabbled in voice over related projects ,

SH:
But for the most part I did music growing up and I thought about doing a voice over demo and I thought about it for many many years as an adult. And I kept saying yeah yeah I’m gonna do it someday.

TR:
And then?

SH:
A friend of mine showed up one day and she was all excited. She was going to go do a voice demo and she had just gone to a local studio that did voice coaching and I thought wow! I have all these skills, she’s starting out with absolutely none of them and she’s just gonna go do this?
I should just go do this!

TR:
Demo in hand, Satauna signed up with casting websites connecting voice over artists with companies and organizations seeking a voice.
Two or three days of submitting auditions with no offers,  she realized the process was a bit harder than she expected.
Learning that others already established in the field had more auditions under their belt than she did, she came to the understanding…

SH:
I gave up too soon!
So I went back to auditioning and within three days I had my first job.

[Demo of Satauna here]

TR:
And her business has been growing ever since!

One requirement for entry into the New ventures competition was completion of a course in Hadley’s forsythe Center.

SH:
I took marketing research, , the marketing plan and the financial plan. Thinking that those would give me insight as to what they were looking for when I wrote up my business plan. And they certainly did … I’ve been doing this for little over three years now and I just never sat down and actually tried to write anything up because I never gone to a bank or an investor and attempted to get money. So I’ve just been flying by the seat of my pants.

TR:
Actually, that time in the industry is extremely valuable. Colleen Wunderlich from Hadley explains.

CW:
You have to work in an industry to know what’s needed what works, what doesn’t … Three to five years of industry experience to launch a successful business… unless you’re a person who started so many businesses that you really understand how to start businesses and make them succeed.

But voice over is more than just speaking into a microphone…

SH:
Right now I do everything on my own. From all of the admin and marketing to the actual voice work and then the production of that voice work.

TR:
Production includes editing and manipulating audio.

This is the business plan…
Satauna recognizes the opportunity to expand and employ part time editors and others who can perform some of these production related tasks.

Can this include others who are blind or visually impaired?

SH:
Sure, absolutely. I know there are blind people out there who have the kinds of audio skills that I have.

TR:
there are some real advantages to a voice over business especially for someone who is blind or others with disabilities

SH:
I don’t have to think about transportation… Most of the time my clients don’t know I can’t see, they don’t need to know, there’s no reason. It’s so flexible and I get to be somebody different every day. I really get to set my own hours and work with people all over the world. It’s so much fun!

TR:
While you may not get recognized in public, there are times you can enjoy and even point others to  some of your work.

SH:
I worked with Delta Airlines… I’ve done some of their overhead promotional work.
I was on a plane from Minneapolis to Los Angeles… so we’re sitting on the runway and all of a sudden it’s me talking to everybody…[laughter] about Delta Wi-Fi and you know you should download the Delta app…

There was a T.V commercial for Empire Today were I was a talking baby. That was fun cause I could say to people this is where you’ll find me …
TR:
I think I still know that jingle…
[Together Satauna and Thomas recite the jingle!]
“800 588 2300 Empire…
TR:
Today…
SH:
That’s exactly right!
[Both laugh to a fade]

TR:
C’mon now, don’t act like I’m the only one who sings that commercial.

[In the background Thomas is singing the Empire jingle to himself]

TR:
Available in every state and internationally Hadley has a lot to offer.

CW:
We have a high school program so if someone is trying to finish a high school diploma …
We still do offer courses  in Braille and large print and audio, but the business courses primarily are online. We believe if you can’t be online then you can’t really be in business in today’s world.

TR:
If you are a budding entrepreneur or business owner with an idea and want to participate in a future New Venture Competition Hadley is planning another in the Winter of 2017.

To find out more on that or available classes, you can contact student services.

CW:
800 526-9909
You can also reach us online at Hadley .edu.

TR:
For more on Satauna or to find out where she is in the process of growing her support staff, stay tuned to her website or follow her via social media…

SH:
www.satauna.com [Spells name phonetically]
I’m also emailable at info@satauna.com.
I’m on Twitter @SataunaH. You could search for me on Facebook or Linked In too.

This is Thomas Reid
[]SH:
“I started playing with my thumbs”]
For Gatewave Radio, Audio for Independent Living!

RMM:
When producing stories for Gatewave, I try to edit down to what I think would be of interest to the most listeners.
However, , there was much more to the conversation. Put me in ear shot of another audio geek and I’m asking about gear…

Now, I know I’m not supposed to be jealous and I’m definitely not supposed to admit it, but man she had her own recording studio as a teen… that’s so dope!

I remember making my pause tapes and thinking I was really doing something special…
I simulated a four track recorder by using two cassette recorders and an answering machine to make my own answering machine greeting that included an original beat. It was just me tapping out something on my wooden desk, a sample from some song and original vocals…

Last year I took an interest in audio imaging and voice over and took a shot at creating my own movie trailer.
voice over/Imaging project last year… PCB
This was done for the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind conference which  was including an original play…

You can say it’s my hat tip to the movie trailer legend , Mr. In a world… Don LaFontaine.
[Audio Trailer audio including
TR: “In a world of glamor, glitz and fame  … everything that glitters isn’t always gold!”]
That’s just a quick sample…

My voice is not as deep and is probably better suited for something else…

I do have a few characters but sharing here may put me at risk of offending a lot of people.
Maybe another time!

BTW, Reid My Mind Radio is going on a summer hiatus. I’m actually in production on another project that I’ll be sharing soon. I’ll be sharing via the podcast so make sure you are subscribed which you can do via iTunes or whatever podcatcher you use. Also go ahead and follow me on twitter at tsreid where I may drop a few details along the way.

Thanks for listening and Peace!

Reid My Mind Radio: Manhattan Dreams from Moscow

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Picture of Nafset Chenib on platform during the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi Russia

Nafset Chenib dreams of attending school in New York City. Listen to more about her dream, challenges and experience  growing up in russia…but you especially, have to hear her voice!

And make sure you stay tuned for the Reid My Mind Radio Theme Re-Mix!

Subscribe to RMM Radio
– Or hit the Play button below!

 

Resources:
*Nafset’s Go Fund Me]*Closing Ceremony 2014 Paralympics Sochi, Russia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpXg1R50-K0>

 

Transcript

[Opening Music- Nafset  – A. Dvorak – Mesichku Na Nebi (Rusalka)]

TR:
You’re listening to Nafset Chenib, a 28 year old soprano born in Southern Russia.

NC: Now I live in Moscow. I have studied hear for five years  and then I decided to stay here cause I love this city and from my point of view it’s much easier to live in the big city when you are blind rather than a small town.

TR:
At 6 years old Nafset began attending a Russian boarding school for blind children.

NC:
Unfortunately we had no choice . We didn’t have any opportunity for a inclusive education. So I was forced to be there at the boarding school – it was quite far from my house.

TR:
While she says she received a good education, Nafset believes not all of the components that make up the educational plan are fulfilled. Meaning both academic and social including daily living skills.

NC:
There are a lot of teachers that don’t know Braille in those special schools. From my experience I wasn’t taught to use the cane.

TR:
There was even some lacking in the general attitude regarding the capabilities of blind children. Nafset recalls how the school’s director responded
when she and her class mates wanted to learn the English language like children outside of boarding schools.

NC:
He told us “Are you gonna travel or what are you supposed to do with your English?”
You know it was quite offensive.

TR:
Ironically Nafset would come to not only learn English, but several foreign languages.

NC:
I’m not Russian. I’m Sarcasian so I can speak this Sarcasian language it’s called Adyghe language. I speak Russian. I speak Italian. Now I try to study German, mainly because of music.

TR:
Go ahead and add her ability to sing in Hebrew, Czechoslovakian and Spanish.

While the boarding school may have not imagined  blind Russian students having a need for learning English, they did have a music school that would introduce Nafset to her passion.

NC:
I finished my musical school as a pianist. But I had supplementary discipline. It was vocal, opera singing. I started to participate in different festivals to sing in different choirs. I participated in the festival when there was the great opera singer  Montserrat Caballé.

TR:
Among other notable experiences, add the time she sang for Pope John Paul the second!

NC:
I was able to visit  Covent Garden Opera. They performed  Semele by Handel and I was so impressed  that I decided to go in for music more seriously.

TR:
Taking her dream seriously, Nafset  had to fill one of the components that wasn’t addressed in the school for the blind. She decided to find an orientation and mobility trainer to learn how to use the white cane in order to better travel independently.

Now able to make her own life decisions,  Nafset chose to pursue her college education in an inclusive environment, even though there is a special musical college for the blind.

NC:
After college I decided to pursue my education in Moscow. I studied at Victor Popov Academy  of Choral Arts. It was wonderful time. I sing solo; students choir. I was able to collaborate with very interesting orchestras, outstanding conductors.

TR:
In some respects,  a vocation as a singer seems like a natural fit for a talented person who is blind.

NC:
Conductors, they don’t trust you. I hear the question “How are you gonna sing if you don’t see the conductor?”
[Trailing sarcastic laugh!]

TR:
The misperceptions about blindness aren’t very logical and are more about the beholder’s limitations rather than the person who is blind.

[Musical transition – Nafset  – A. Dvorak – Mesichku Na Nebi (Rusalka)]

In the 1980’s when asked by a reporter if Russia would participate in the first Paralympic games
A Russian governmental official famously responded:
“There Are No Invalids in the USSR!”

Outright denying the existence of people with disabilities in the country.

While progress is slowly being made, it’s not surprising that
many teachers  are still against creating an inclusive educational environment for children with disabilities.

There continues to be a real lack of resources including Braille materials, access to information such as scholarly databases and information in general

While Nafset recognizes the areas for improvement, she’s very clear about her love of her country and wants to be a part of the solution.

NC:
I see that we have a lot to adopt from the United States. I’m eager to do that.

The thing is you know dreamed to study at the Manhattan School of Music and then to go back and to share my acquired knowledge and skills

TR:
Going after your dreams isn’t easy!
Most artistic endeavors  require a great deal of practice and of course you   need to make a living.

NC:
I work at the Moscow Art Theater. I sing for one performance. I like my job. It’s like a miracle for me.

TR:
Singing for one of the shows at the theater as well as occasional concerts,
Nafset is still uncertain of her future employment opportunities
but she remains committed to her dream.

So what exactly is stopping Nafset from pursuing her dream?
…The cost!

NC:
In February, I had a successful audition at Manhattan School of Music in New York And I was accepted  and I have been granted scholarship it amounted to 15 thousand dollars, but the whole tuition fees  45 thousand dollars so I think I’m not able to pursue my education in USA.

I have not a bad education here in Russia but for me self-development is the main thing in my life. I want to develop myself.

TR:
Sometimes it’s helpful to think about our past successes to provide encouragement and remind us that we can prevail.

[Audio from 2014 Paralympics Closing Ceremony in Sochi, Russia]

In 2014 During the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Nafset was the soloist in the closing act.

NC:
It was just a great honor for me!

I was so glad to sing there …stadium included 40 thousand people. The show was televised as well.
TR:
Making her entrance , Nafset is on a platform which rises above the rest of the entertainers and participants on the field.

[Audio: Nafset begins to sing!]

The Olympic torch is extinguished as Nafset holds her final note!
[Audio: Nafset softly holding that final note]

NC:
It’s unforgettable experience for me!
TR:
unforgettable!

NC:
Maybe I am an Idealist but it’s my dream.

TR:
You continue to follow your dream!

TR:
Maybe her entrance during the Sochi performance is symbolic of things to come. Nafset rising above all – perhaps all of the obstacles on her path toward fulfilling her dream. Her passion represented by the fire can only be extinguished by Nafset herself.

You have to respect anyone pursuing their dream. Especially those who can  still find time for gratitude when things don’t seem to be going as they wish.

NC:
I just want to say I’m very happy  to have the experience in United States. Today I can tell the people here in Russia about the things that we don’t have here but you have there in the United States. I’m very thankful to all the American companies who work out the software and different technical devices to improve our lives. I really feel very thankful.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Nafset or supporting her dream;
check out her go fund me
http://bit.ly/Nafset That’s
bit.ly/Capital N lower case A F S E T

This is Thomas Reid, .

NC: “Unfortunately we have no choice”
Thomas usually concludes with some silly self-effacing close![]

for Gatewave Radio
Audio for Independent Living!

If you’re listening to this via the podcast or Sound Cloud and want to check out the YouTube video or link to Nafset’s Go Fund Me, go on over to Reid My Mind.com where I have all the links.

A final thought as I was producing this story…

One of the things I always loved and miss about living and working  in New York City is the variety of people.
Among  most of my friends and family, I’m one of the only people who didn’t mind riding the subway. I loved people watching and the occasional spontaneous conversations  that either I would be a part of or have the chance to overhear or basically ease drop.

Interviewing different people  for me brings back a similar feeling. Especially speaking with those I’d otherwise never have a chance to randomly meet.
Like those in a different country from other cultures sharing their experience.

You just listened to  two people from very different back grounds in countries that were once  the greatest enemies.

I guess I’m old enough where I still am amazed and appreciate the technology involved in making this conversation possible.

The conversation itself took place on our iPhones via Face time Audio.
It was just a few years ago that the idea of a phone with a touch screen
was believed to be a poor reflection of the future of accessibility for those who are blind.

I’m still impressed that our Wi-Fi connection held up as packets of information were sent back and forth from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, USA  to Moscow in Russia.

Maybe it’s just my level of Geekiness that thinks that stuff is still pretty cool! And Nafset , reminds me to continue to be thankful!

Thanks for listening!{Or Reading!}

Peace!

 

I’d Rather Celebrate Prince

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016
Prince on stage in concert!

Prince

Last week soon after arriving home for lunch, while seated at the island in our kitchen, my wife Marlett read a text message out loud; Prince died?

Hearing this as a question while making myself a cup of tea I responded, Prince who? As if there was anyone else!

 

The rest of the conversation was probably repeated thousands of times all over the world. Knowing that Twitter and the internet in general kill random celebrities pretty frequently, we looked for multiple sources to confirm. That was about the time I received a notification on my phone from the Tune In app alerting me that CNN was covering the death of the legendary musician.

Marlett and I both wondered aloud about the reason behind his death. We talked about how it really hurts losing artists from our generation. These sorts of conversations can easily turn morbid where we begin to wonder about our own deaths. In fact, this seems to be where so many people focus – the death. Since his passing, I’ve seen a lot of social media focused on warning us all to get our health checked. Posts encouraging various artists of our generation to do the same.

I get that. We should be doing the best we can to take care of ourselves In fact, [apple crunch] I’m trying to eat my fruit and vegetables, but even those I’m told aren’t always that good for me… you know the pesticides and bio engineering…

Something about that response though; to the death of an artist who by all accounts was a pretty health conscious person. I believe a vegetarian, no drugs or alcohol… It feels sometimes as though we blame the person for their own illness or death…

 

I know I felt that when I went through my second cancer… The first of which I was born with so I guess no one could blame me…  The pseudo health experts in my life who I personally witnessed consume fried, fatty foods followed by large amounts of alcohol and engage in other activities that some may believe to be associated with an unhealthy lifestyle  all of a sudden want to share tips on what I should consider in order to prevent cancer. Maybe I should have explained the cancer was caused by the radiation received to stop the tumors I had as a baby, but instead, I thanked them for their concern.

 

Marlett went back to work shortly after learning of Prince’s death. Working at home on days like this has some advantages; I can play my music as loud as I choose without bothering anyone. Of course, it was an all Prince Playlist.

 

In general, I think I have a healthy outlook on death. I know I’m not scared of it for myself… that would truly be a waste of my time. It will happen eventually, and God forbid something happens in the not so distant future… no, I did not prophesize my own death.

 

Death, as I explained to my youngest daughter when she came home from school, is sad for those of us who remain. Those who pass on have no control of that. I just hope for them that they had a chance to do what they enjoyed and make an impact on someone. Prince definitely did that.

 

Think about all of the energy that Prince put into making and performing that music. That energy is felt each time you hear a song,

watch a performance, well; There is Graffiti Bridge… I’m just saying’… too soon?

 

I like to think that now in spirit form Prince gets some sort of return on that energy he put out into the world. That’s a lot of energy still being generated…Just put on your favorite Prince Song;

Am I the only one who:

  • Thinks they have the meanest Let’s go Crazy air guitar solo?
  • Almost suffered an aneurism trying to imitate a Prince falsetto?
  • Attempted one of Prince’s dance moves and bust your knee, split your pants or worse fellas?

 

By all means, let’s be mindful of our individual health. And while we are doing that, celebrate the life of Prince and all those artists we love so much. Personally, I’m going to keep listening, dancing, and working on my falsetto and say thank you for the music which will live on!