Monday, April 18, 2022

Music Minute: Life Beyond Sight

 I recently had a chance to see a copy of the CD Life Beyond Sight with lyrics written by 6 blind teenagers at a songwriting workshop held at the Maryland School for the Blind, and music contributed by professional musicians across the USA. The purpose of the songwriting workshop was to encourage the students to advocate for themselves. They decided to write lyrics about what they want sighted people to know about them. The proceeds of this project will go to the Theatre Arts Festival For Youth a 501(c)(3).

The project has quite the story. In 2016 six blind-from-birth teens from the Baltimore area were invited to take part in a songwriting workshop designed to encourage self-advocacy and enable them to express their needs to the sighted world. Sponsored by, a subsidiary of Theatre Arts Festival for Youth, a 501(c)(3) charity, Val Smalkin, a Maryland State Arts Council award-winning artist, conducted a single workshop. From that, the project grew into five years of meetings with students. musicians, recording engineers, and artists who volunteered their time and talent to Life Beyond Sight to fruition. 

The album is the result of cross-country collaboration. Los Angeles-based children’s music star Dave Kinnoin and his songwriting partner Jimmy Hammer wrote the music for the students’ “Dance of Freedom.” Along with his own family music, Dave has written songs for Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog, and Winnie the Pooh. Mike Greenly, a talented former Fortune 500 exec and freelance writer for corporate clients, underwrote and co-produced Life Beyond SightMark Stocker, chief engineer at Studio 66 in Chattanooga, opened his Baltimore studio to the Maryland School for the Blind students to record and learn. Mark also produced three of the songs on Life Beyond SightBarbara Klaskin Silberg added harmony and the voices of the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir to the “Dance of Freedom.” 

The project turned out quite well. It was amazing to hear what these young adults can do! It's even better that proceeds go to a great cause.

Learn more about Life Beyond Sight at

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