Pushing Limits

Women Musicians with Disabilities

IAyumi Hamasake, Donna Williams, Evelyn Glennie, Liyana with Prudence Mabhena, Mandy Harvey and The Great Britain Paraorchestra.

Donna Williams is autistic and darn proud of it.  Artistic ability exudes from her pores.   We play her song,  “All Be Happy; A Gothic Autism Story.”   Donna’s ground-breaking books, Nobody, Nowhere and Somebody Somewhere were among the first attempts by autistic people to put words to their own experience.  She’s also an accomplished artist and teacher.

Three-time Grammy Award winner, Dame Evelyn Glennie lives with profound deafness.  She is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist.  We play her horsing around with Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street.

Prudence Mabhena is the lead vocalist for Liyana, a Zimbabwe band entirely made of people with disabilities.  She lives with arthrogryphosis and uses a wheel chair.  Her personal story, Music by Prudence, was made into an Oscar-winning film.  We play Liyana’s song, Sugar Rhythms.

In 2008, Ayumi Hamasaki, the Japanese Princess of Pop announced that she had lost her hearing in her left ear.  She had been diagnosed with Ménière’s Disease in 2006.  We play her untitled song, called simply, for her, which she wrote after finding out that a close friend had died suddenly.  The lyrics talk about a long road traveled alone.

Mandy Harvey entered the Music Education program at Colorado State University. During her freshman year she lost her hearing and left the university.  Though her hearing loss is profound (110 decibels in each ear) her timing, pitch and passion are perfect.  We play the title song of her first album, the jazz classic Smile.

Last but not least, the Great Britain Paraorchestra, the world’s first professional ensemble for disabled musicians.  This 26 piece orchestra was founded in 2012.  One of their aims is, “To increase the profile and visibility of disabled musicians on the world stage.”

We join them in that effort.

This program produced and hosted by Shelley Berman.
Thanks to Rane Richardson and Adrienne Lauby for assistance


Ayumi Hamasake;
untitled, for her

Donna Williams;
All Be Happy; A Gothic Autism Story

Evelyn Glennie;
Concerto for Percussion by Joseph Schwantner with Orquesta Filarmónica de Medellin

Sugar Rhythms

Mandy Harvey;

The Great Britain Paraorchestra;
True Colors with The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf & Hearing Children

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