Spotlight On: The 'Blindfold' Project

Marie Naffah is a busy woman. The London based, singer-songwriter was the winner of MTV’s 2014 Unsigned Artist award and is currently at work on her debut EP, which is expected to be released sometime later this year. On top of that, 22-year-old Naffah has found time to joined forces with the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) for a musical project entitled ‘Blindfold’, a “documentary-style” video for her song of the same name.

Written by Naffah herself; ‘Blindfold’ was inspired by her grandmother’s life living with blindness and poignantly expresses her sentiments by helping listeners see through the eyes of her experiences.

The genesis for what would ultimately become the ‘Blindfold’ project, all started with Naffah’s performance of “Blindfold” for senior BBC broadcast journalist Tony Shearman, who is blind. Affected by her performance, Naffah was invited to be a guest on Insight Radio (the official radio station of the RNIB).

It was during that broadcast, she caught the ear of blind drummer Steve Plowman. Also impressed by what he heard, he reached out to her and the two would eventually team up with five additional blind and partially sighted musicians to collaborate on the ‘Blindfold’ project; a 12-minute documentary/music video hybrid featuring the song. In the video, the seven artists lend their various talents to a collective performance of the song.
In the press release for the project, they explained their goal: “to emphasise the importance of music in the lives of visually-impaired people and to show how, contrary to public opinion, a disability such as blindness does not automatically prevent a person from being able to perform music.”

The documentary side of the project was made by filmmaker Constance Meath-Baker. While the Blindfold band is comprised of the following seven artists:

Marie Naffah – vocalist and songwriter
Steve Plowman – drummer
Antonio de Lillis – guitarist
Ricky James – vocalist
Rob Ellard – guitarist
Kevin Satizabal – piano
Ashley Cox – drummer

When commenting on the purpose of ‘Blindfold’ and raising awareness for the visually impaired; Naffah says:
“It is important to reiterate that this project was not for profit. The purpose of it, aside from to enjoy meeting these amazing musicians and hearing their stories, was to raise awareness for the various forms of blindness, and to highlight the amazing attitudes and talents of the people who live with them. I wanted to show to people how suffering from blindness does not automatically remove the ability to be creative and successful. The societal assumption is often a condescending one, when in fact these musicians are some of the most talented that I have ever worked with. It was important to bring this sentiment into the public domain – so the greater population can begin to understand that by patronising and feeling awkward towards visually-impaired people it only further reinforces a feeling they might have of ‘being different’.”

You can watch ‘Blindfold’ on YouTube by clicking here