Off the gritty streets of New York, Raul Midon is a soul singer/songwriter, who went on to become a jazz and R’n’B sensation. What makes him truly unique as an artiste is not just the fact that he is a one-man-band who will add the percussion and saxophone sounds while he is singing and playing guitar, but also the fact that he is blind by birth.
The 44-year-old recording artiste is on a world-tour and is making his first India appearance in his 10 year career. “I never imagined that I would ever come to this part of the world. I have heard a lot about India from my friends back home and the expansive rich culture. I hope to learn a thing or two about the country and imbibe something in my music,” says Midon, whose musical influences range from gospel to hip-hop.
Growing up with music
Midon grew to love sounds when he lost his eyesight as an infant. Growing up in New Mexico, Midon found music at an early age. Music was not an expression, but also his way of connecting to things. “The closest way that you can see is to read literature. It’s the only art form that can describe everything in words. Music combines what you can feel and see,” says Midon.
With four albums under his belt, Midon has toured the world and collaborated with artistes such as India Arie, Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein, Jason Marz and of course his idol Stevie Wonder. Comparisons aside, Wonderand blind flamenco-jazz artiste Jose Feliciano are both huge influences in Midon’s life.
“Not just musically, but even personally they have inspired me a lot. They are two of the biggest recording and touring artistes in the world. Their songs hold such power of word and music, and the power of emotions. They truly demonstrated that being blind is not a handicap, but an incredible gift. The sense of sound is so heightened that you can play with frequencies and scales quite effectively. Blindness doesn’t make you better, it makes you focussed,” says Midon, who has collaborated with idol Wonder for his first album, State of Mind (2007).
In a later album called Possibilities, a compilation album - Herbie Hancock recorded his version of I just called to say I love you. “I recorded the album in 2006 and getting Herbie to do a rendition was perhaps one of the best gifts ever. It was an allegiance to Wonder,” says Midon.