Musical dreamin'

Seven visually impaired musicians release their first album.

ofek group 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ofek group 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A CD release party and benefit concert will take place at Givatayim Theater, outside of Tel Aviv on Tuesday, February 24. The event is organized by Children's Horizons (Ofek Group), the Israel National Association of Parents of Visually Impaired Children. What You Hear Over Here is the product of seven young visually impaired and blind musicians, featuring both original music and covers of popular songs like James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend." Guila Seidel, one of the founders of Children's Horizons, sat down with Billboard to discuss details of the concert and the origins of an organization that is very close to her heart. Born blind, Seidel's daughter Nili is one of the seven musicians performing on the album. "Since Nili was born I was driven into the world of the blind and visually impaired. I had a great necessity to meet other parents of blind children and I understood what strength we can give and receive from each other," Seidel says. "At Children's Horizons - we try to create a family of parents and families that will assist generations of blind children to grow into independent, self-assured people." Founded in 1996, Children's Horizons is a non-profit association of parents of visually impaired and blind children. The organization lobbies on behalf of all children with special needs. Proceeds from Tuesday night's event will go towards the creation of a foundation called, Musical Dreams, which will purchase instruments and provide musical education for visually impaired children. It will also help teachers understand the needs of blind or visually impaired children in musical education. "We want to be the center of information on how to teach music to visually impaired children," Seidel says. "This project has been on our minds for quite some time. Musical education is important for everyone, but especially for blind children. Unfortunately, many parents cannot afford music lessons." Children's Horizons tries to involve children and parents in any project - Musical Dreams was no different. The idea for What You Hear Over Here was raised at a brainstorming session. It was decided that proceeds generated through sales of the CD would help launch the foundation. Tuesday night's event, set to begin with a reception at 8 p.m. and the concert a half hour later, will feature the seven musicians performing songs from the album. Seidel says, "The CD release concert gives wonderful and talented musicians the chance to perform in public." Guy Maman, one of the participating musicians, says that he's very lucky to be part of the project. Also a medical clown at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and Carmel Hospital in Haifa, Maman started playing music at the age of two. His involvement with Children's Horizons began during his year of national service. Maman, who says that music is the easiest way for him to communicate, will perform his original song, "I Don't Have Enough Words." Once off the ground, the foundation will grant scholarships for musical education to blind and visually impaired children, Seidel explains. She hopes that the concert will become an annual event, giving scholarship recipients the chance to perform. Tickets are NIS 100-180 and can be purchased at the Givatayim Theater, (03) 732-5340 or Children's Horizons, (02) 659-9553, where What You Hear Over Here can also be purchased.