Experience of lockdown for a blind singer: Sarah Mellor’s story

Sarah is a professional singer, as well as a visual artist. In this blog she talks about her experience with the music industry, and how lockdown has impacted both her work and her life.

Improving wellbeing

Music is a powerful therapy. For me, it improves my wellbeing in many ways. I can forget the stresses and strains of life and a beautiful harmonious melody takes me to another place, my own world where I am in control.  To be able to deliver a song effectively one also needs to be a good actor or actress, and I am often becoming a different character for the time when I am on stage or in a studio. I love getting the reaction from an audience and lots of positive feedback as well as the applause. It is something I know I was born to do. 

It is rewarding to perform in venues such as care homes, nursing homes and day centres. It can bring joy and to those who may be experiencing isolation and good memories those who find it difficult to remember every day things but can remember the words to their favourite songs and like to join in.   

A picture of Sarah smiling, wearing a beige stripey shirt

Shifting societal attitudes towards people with disabilities

Disability is often seen by others without a disability as a ‘brick wall’. They forget that behind the ‘brick wall’ there is a living person and if only they would look over that ‘brick wall’ and see the delights this person has to offer. I still experience times when society does not accept people with disabilities as people, without the disability. It is often-  disability first and person second. I have been referred to as ‘the blind lady that sings’ rather than ‘the singer’ (who happens to be blind).

Society puts obstacles in our way by saying things like ‘you can’t do gigs because you can’t drive or work a PA system and you don’t move around the stage enough.’  People are not concentrating on my voice and my ability to deliver a song, which is the important thing. 

Better social inclusion

Although people love to hear me sing, they won’t hire me because of my disability. Disabled and able-bodied working together can achieve fantastic results if only our communities will come together and work as a team.

They may not know about access to work funding which would allow me to employ a support worker to help with the tasks (e.g driving) that I can’t do.  I also think it would help if there was education in schools so that children have a better understanding in adulthood.

A digital portrait of Sarah sitting at her piano. She is holding a microphone and wearing a blue dress.

Inspiration for the future

I wanted to become a professional singer as a child growing up in Congleton, Cheshire. My first paid gig was when I was living in Banbury, Oxfordshire in 2003 at our MP’s garden party.

I recorded two songs with Cat Stevens’ brother, David Gordon: ‘Lover Man’, a jazz standard and the songs written by David Gordon are ‘Waiting Patiently’ and ‘This Is My Life’. I have performed in nursing homes and several charity fundraising events. I have also performed at the Winter Gardens’ jazz and blues festival in Blackpool in front of 300 people – what a rush!

I am inspired by performers (who happen to be blind) that have achieved success with their craft such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and George Sheering. Michael Flanders and Conny Boswell were in wheelchairs and also had fantastic careers.     

I am committed to my dream of being a professional singer getting regular gigs , rehearsing, performing and recording songs, voice-over work and radio work. I aim to get representation from an agent, and a recording contract. I would also like to perform online and be paid for it while the restrictions regarding live performances are still in place. 

Let’s all stay positive so that we can all achieve our dreams and aspirations which we have worked so hard to achieve.  

Further reading (and listening)