Blind singer Chang Yu-hsia (張玉霞) has become a sensation on China’s TV talent search shows. Referred to as the “Beautiful Voice of Taiwan,” she has won the hearts of Chinese audiences by singing sweet melodies in a style reminiscent of the late Taiwanese superstar Teresa Teng (鄧麗君).
Now there is a four-member band of blind musicians from Miaoli County making headlines. The New Heart and Vision Band (心視界樂團) is made up of Tseng Hui-chuan (曾慧娟), Yang Yu-fan (楊玉凡), Chen Chi-feng (陳淇楓) and Hung Min-chih (洪敏智).
Some band members were born blind, others lost their vision due to illness.
Utilizing their talents and training, the band wanted to share their love of music with the public. With their new vocation, the members also found new direction in life.
The band performs concerts, sharing their love of music with others, demonstrating their vitality and hope for life
“Before, we were just like you, we could enjoy the wonderful colors of the world. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we now live in a world of darkness,” Chen said.
A graduate at the National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu, Chen used to work in a Hong Kong futures trading brokerage firm. The 34-year old Chen said that because of the job’s demands, he had to work the late at night, and slept mostly during the day.
One day he fell ill with a fever, and because he did not immediately seek medical treatment, it resulted in a loss of vision in both eyes.
At first, he could not accept the change, and it took him quite a while to adjust to living in a world of darkness.
Chen reminded himself that he was still young and must not give up. He took a government job-training course and learned to play the flute, followed by the guitar.
After two years, he started performing on stage, specializing in uplifting songs, hoping to use music to encourage others who have encountered similar experiences not to buckle under the setbacks in life.
Yang was born with weak vision, and later lost her eyesight due to glaucoma.
She majored in Chinese language in university, but has always had a passion for music and singing.
Now 24, she is the band’s pianist. She likes to perform and sing the hit songs of Teresa Teng, Faye Wong (王菲) and Tien Fu-chen (田馥甄 or Hebe of S.H.E).
Another member is Tseng, 25, whose premature birth left her blind.
She received vocal music training at the school for the deaf and blind. Later, at university, she majored in piano and the Chinese erhu, the two-string fiddle.
Tseng’s specialty is Taiwanese campus folk songs (校園民歌). So when performing, she always brings back happy memories of the 1970s to her audience, the era when this music genre was popular in Taiwan.
The fourth member, Hung, was born blind.
He learned to play the electronic organ, guitar and jazz drums at the school for the deaf and blind.
Although only 25 years old, he can sing old Mandarin classics with superb interpretation.
Hung has a ready-to-play list of more than 200 songs, as he regained confidence through performing music on stage.
“We need to make a living. The cheers and applause by the audience, their positive feedback, are the greatest encouragement for blind musicians like us to improve ourselves,” Chen said.
The New Heart and Vision Band got started with support from the Vision Impaired People’s Rights Association Foundation of Miaoli County.