About this project
Thank you everyone for your support! If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to Heavenly Sight after our Kickstarter deadline, you can do so thorough our demonstration site www.heavenlysight.org.
In the Black church, blindness has always carried a special gift. Blind Willie Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Arizona Dranes, Blind Willie McTell, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, The Blind Boys of Alabama: all have had a unique role in giving American song its soul. Now, with your help we'll tell this story in public media and for future generations.
With writer and host Dave Marash we've spent years researching documents, graphics and photographs, unearthing rare archival sound from the Library of Congress—and from little-known commercial sources to produce an hour-long public radio documentary Heavenly Sight.
We've uncovered stories of these blind
musicians: learning music at segregated schools; singing or being robbed
on street corners; navigating and changing the music industry:
- Arizona Dranes, who traveled the southwest helping found Pentecostal churches before being “discovered” by Okeh Records.
- Reverend Gary Davis influenced legions of guitarists including Jerry Garcia, Ry Cooder, Dave Van Ronk, and Bob Dylan. A blind singer and preacher, he “was constantly having his guitars stolen from him,” says his former 'lead boy' David Bromberg. As a consequence, “when he’d fall asleep in his chair, as soon as he woke up, the first thing he did was draw a pistol.”
- Singer and guitarist Flora Molton staked out a corner of Washington DC. “A rough sister,” says Dr. Reagon. On the streets “You walked into her sound… you were breathing her air.”
- And we take the past into the future with Blind Willie Johnson-- one of the greatest bottleneck guitarists -- whose iconic moan “Dark was the Night” went into space on the Voyager space probe; the music of a nearly obscure blind black man selected to represent the human race.
While the funding we received from grants was enough to complete the radio documentary it left no resources to properly fund the promotion of the documentary to public radio stations or build a true companion website. We seek to bring the hour-long radio doc. to more stations and build a lasting web resource.
With your help, we’ll bring all these resources together to build a dynamic website and engage in a marketing plan that helps bring Heavenly Sightto hundreds, rather than a handful, of stations. With an array of multimedia elements, Heavenlysight.org will be easily accessible to visually-handicapped visitors following best practices from the National Federation of the Blind and the Perkins Institute.
The website will bring the panorama of blues and gospel styles well beyond the documentary audience -- drawn by curiosity, by social media, blog posts, search engines and enthusiasm for the authentic styles and artists whose work we bring to light. Our library of the music and musician interviews will be a continuing resource for education and entertainment.
Every Kickstarter project must be fully funded before its time expires or else we do not collect any pledges.
Yes, you can choose your Thank You gift anytime after the project reaches its completion funding. We're adding thank you gifts and are glad to offer them at whatever your backing level.
Jana Herzen (at Motema Records -motema.com) says: Cool documentary Can't wait to see it. ... Do you know why David Bromberg is included in this? Has he lost his sight?"
Glad for your support, and glad to say David Bromberg's sight and fingers are working fine so far as we know, but he studied with Rev Gary Davis' taking lessons often in return for acting as his "lead-boy" (like Stefan Grossman and other guitar wizards) taking the Rev to gigs, helping to carry his gear, etc. He talks in our interview about having to use caution when he entered a room where the blind Davis might have fallen asleep in his chair, and would wake up and draw his pistol, as protection for his instruments.
If our Kickstarter is successful, we'll be marketing the program to radio stations for broadcast in June (Black Music Month). Let your local station know it will be available for them (free for noncommercial broadcast) or at a very low rate for commercial stations. X Radio programmers may not follow your suggestions and request, but most of the time they will at least check them out.
And let us know who you talked to - write heavenlysight @ http://murraystreet.com so we can follow up.
My friend pledged $30 after I forwarded the HEAVENLY SIGHT info to her. How do I claim my flash drive with HeavenlySight?
Your friend can tell us she was referred by you... or you can tell us after her name appears on the backers list. You trust us to do the project. We trust you too. And Thanks.
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