Singing her way to vision and glory

A middle aged woman with a warm smile welcomes you with grace when you knock her door at the Staff Quarters in Pallavaram, Chennai. Not only does she have a sweet voice, her singing is all the more mellifluous. Can you imagine she is a blind woman who is one of the senior most singers in the St. Louis Orchestra of the Blind?

It was a kind gesture on the part of Bro.Octavian, the founder Director of the orchestra to introduce Ms. Maria Theresa, a singing angel in the troupe. What was also striking was to see her supportive husband, Mr. David, who is also blind but has remained by her side all along. The confidence in her is inspiring as much as her achievements in life. She was celebrating her 59th Birthday on the day we met her.

She narrated how she was picked by Bro. Octavian when studing at the Little Flower School for the Blind near Gemini Fly over in Chennai, to take up singing as a career. The orchestra was formed in 1975 by Brother Octavian with about 20 members of whom three were girls and the remaining 17 were boys. The group has now come down to about 14 since many of them with qualification get rehabilitated in good jobs offered by Government these days.

The members of the orchestra have to attend their daily routine of rigorous practice at the campus in Pallavaram. They listen to all movie songs being played in an Audio system and write down the lyrics in Braille which they use while singing.

When asked to sing, she came out spontaneously with the song ‘Ovvoru Pookalume’ from the Tamil film Autograph performed by a visually challenged orchestra, without lyrics in hand. As she stumbled a bit with the lyrics mid way, she took out a note book from a bag by her own self effort and started off with ‘Karunai Ullame’.

Listen to Ms. Maria Theresa singing ‘Karunai Ullame’

The orchestra has performed so far in eight different languages like Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and few songs in Chinese when performing at Malaysia and Singapore. She recalls singing in Hindi in places like Pune, Delhi and Mumbai. When singing in other languages, she relies only on the tune and the lyrics in Braille and never only on her memory.

Having sung in nearly 1000 programmes over 35 years, she remains humble and hospitable. A proud mother of two children, she is grateful to the Montfort brothers, who showed the right direction to her at a time when the outside world did not recognise them with dignity and government initiatives were not many.

The famous saying ‘Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness’ is what comes to one’s mind while seeing such people perform. They stand testimony to shows that any form of handicap should not be an impediment to growth and progress in life.

6 thoughts on “Singing her way to vision and glory

  1. Congrates Gina. Well done. It was good that you interviewed someone whose talents are not always recognised. Keep it up

  2. Hey Gina!!!

    Many Congrats first of ALL!!!

    It took some moments for me to realise that this article was done by a little and smart person Gina for, the content, vocabulary and flow were good; I felt I was reading a experienced writer’s work…You can easily pass off as an amateur writer/narrator….God Bless you my Child!!!

    looking forward to reading such entertaining and interesting articles from you :):):)

    David Appollo.

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