INSIGHTFUL VISIONARIES: BEHIND THE VISION
The National Blind Idol Competition is a yearly event that means so much to a large community, the blind and visually impaired. Blind Idol is a national singing competition that celebrates the musical talents of individuals who are legally blind, representing a broad range of music genre.
In 2000, Carolyn Covington was diagnosed with a devastating degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). For over 30 years prior, she had been busy building a successful enterprise in the beauty industry. Persons with RP have no night vision and very limited sight in dimly lit places. Their peripheral vision is greatly restricted, and eventually, may become completely blind. Carolyn was determined to push forward. For the next 14 years (basically living in denial), she finally reached a point where accepting her prospects for the future became a reality. Finally, in 2015, Carolyn closed her last spa and chose to deal with her diminishing eye sight. Self-discovery soon revealed what God’s next plan for her life would be. In time, Carolyn’s new challenges were revealed as opportunities to share her experiences for the benefit of others. It would lead her to recognize the revelations as Divine intervention that would inspire her to create Insightful Visionaries.
From inception, Insightful Visionaries has been on a mission to provide the blind/visually impaired community with a broad range of resources that are convenient, accessible, and enhance their lifestyle. Through donations and community support, Carolyn’s vision for the 4 Senses Wellness Center, which will offer a wide variety of comprehensive programs and approach to inclusive, healthier and more functional living.
The 2018 Visions Resource Lounge
Insightful Visionaries presents the 2018 Visions Resource Lounge
The Miracle of Technology Enhances Sight for the Low Vision Community. Assistive Technology is Empowering the Blind & Visually Impaired
DURHAM, NC, UNITED STATES, June 1, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ — “Are there any Miracle devices to enhance low vision? Absolutely. Through Faith, Hope and God’s Grace, the miracle of Technology, has enabled me to still see with the aid of enhancement devices”, says Carolyn Marshall Covington, founder of Insightful Visionaries. The organization is a non-profit dedicated to empowering the blind/visually impaired community. Carolyn has lost 90% of her sight but not the vision that guides her to continue with God’s purpose and plan to serve others.
Insightful Visionaries Project manager Steve Murphy, a retired DSB division services for the blind employee, has collaborated with industry leaders, vendors and support organizations. He has successfully organized the first of many Visions Resource Lounge events. Insightful Visionaries,an opportunity to Discover and Explore the many resources for the Blind and Low Vision community at the 2018 Visions Resource Lounge. The goal is to connect the Blind and Visually Impaired to Assistive Technology, support agencies and a broad range of other important resources.
Insightful Visionaries’ Visions Resource Lounge was featured at the Historic Carolina Theatre, 309 West Morgan Street, Durham NC on June 16. This is the first of its kind in the Triangle area. The Visions Resource Lounge was FREE to the public from 4pm-6pm. Learn about services, assistive technology, low vision devices, independent living aids and appliances that are available to the blind and visually impaired. These devices are designed help to facilitate a more independent and fulfilling life.
The 2018 Visions Resource Lounge shared information and provided much needed resources for persons who are blind & those diagnosed with Low Vision. Low Vision is defined as visual impairments that are not correctable through surgery, pharmaceuticals, glasses or contact lenses. Some are born with or have hereditary degenerative eye diseases that categorize them as having Low Vision. *In 2015, research studies revealed statistics that showed how 1 in 28 Americans age 40 and above, have low vision. The studies also imply that this trend will continue to increase over the next 20 years as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day. Low vision is often caused by eye diseases like:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Vision loss is the leading cause of age-related disability due to falls. Approximately 24,000 Americans over 65 succumbed to injuries sustained in falls.
Studies show that Up to 80 percent of cases dealing with visual impairment are considered preventable. Through annual comprehensive eye exams, an eye many conditions can be diagnosed and treated early in the disease progression. In many cases, timely care can delay or prevent vision loss.
The Eyecare Specialist group will be in the Visions Resource Lounge to share information about their services. Video magnifiers, braille note takers, scanners, screen readers, screen enlargement software and much more will be available to explore.
Vendors represented a broad range of services, including: Career and personal counseling, college and vocational training, independent living, low vision services, O&M training vocational assessments and evaluations and much more. Participants include, DSB Division Services for the Blind, Orcam, InVision, TRRS Triangle Radio Reader Service, Library for the Blind, GMS Governor Morehead School for the Blind/Deaf, Eye Specialist Dr. Dean Dornic,4 Senses Wellness Center, All Sight Solutions, Aira, National Federation of the Blind, Community Low Vision Center. NCCB (NC Council for the Blind), LBPH Library for the Blind and the BVA (Blinded Veterans Association) and (ADA) Americans Disabilities Act.
Insightful Visionaries strives to bring community awareness to the capabilities of the blind and the visually impaired. This event is being led by Mr. Steve Murphy, who retired from DSB, and, is a former employee of RLCB.
THE 2018 BLIND IDOL SEMI-FINALS
The 2018 Blind Idol Semi-final Competition Hosted by Insightful Visionaries Taps 5 of America’s Best
2018 Semifinalists – from left to right: Marlana VanHoose, Lawrence Carter, Donnie Best, Brooklyn Geise, Charmina Dixon.
The spotlight was on Durham, NC for the 2018 4th Annual Blind Idol Singing Competition held on June 16, at the historic Carolina Theatre.
DURHAM, NC, UNITED STATES, June 25, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ — The 2018 National Blind Idol Singing Competition Semi-finals was hosted for the 2nd year by Insightful Visionaries, for A Brighter Path Programs, that celebrates the musical talents of Americans who are legally blind. A broad range of assistive technology advances were on display in the new Visions Resource Lounge. “We are very excited about the 2018 rollout for Visions Resource Lounge”, said Steve Murphy, Visions Resource Director. “We’ve provided access for the Blind community to a wide range of assistive technology and resources available all in one location”, said Murphy. Insightful Visionaries is a non-profit organization whose mission is to facilitate the independence of the blind and visually impaired community. The organization hosts events, activities, workshops and resources to assist the blind/visually impaired with maintaining an independent lifestyle and participation in the mainstream community.
The 2018 Blind Idol Semi-finals show was produced by McMillian Entertainment Consulting (MEC), with the vision of Carolyn Marshall Covington, Founder of Insightful Visionaries. Carolyn Covington is an active member of the Blind and Visually Impaired Community. America’s best of the best talent, came from near and far. The show was once again compared by attendees, to the quality of other national talent competitions, including the likes of American Idol. This year’s theme, Mardi Gras Carolina Style, kicked off the evening with a rousing opening procession. The sounds of “When the Saints Go Marching In”, were led through the Carolina Theatre’s Fletcher Hall by popular horn players, George Knott on Tuba and Peter Lamb on Sax, followed by stellar performances from the Drum Prophet and Wellness Ambassador, Eugene Taylor and Praise dancer, Nia Mills.
One of the most notable of the evening’s events, was the personal video shared by Elizabeth Doran, President and CEO of The NC Theatres, with words of encouragement to the 9 hopeful contestants from Film & TV Producer, Nigel Lythgoe. The former producer of “Pop Idol” and “American Idol” is the creator and executive producer of, and a regular judge on, “So You Think You Can Dance”. Elizabeth Doran is acknowledged for her focus on education, audience development, diversity and inclusion, has attracted millions of dollars of funding to support programs which break down barriers by merging the arts into schools, universities, prisons, underserved and new-immigrant neighborhoods, and businesses.
Elizabeth Doran and ABC11 Eyewitness News Anchor, Andrea Blanford, came on board early in the planning stages, to serve as the two Emcees. It was their chemistry and the show lineup the would lend energy and excitement to the program from the opening Mardi Gras-themed procession to the announcement of the 5 winners. The three judges who were tasked to select the top five semi-finalists, included, radio and media personality, Callie Douglas, Retired Fire Captain, advocate for the Wounded Veterans, and musician, Andy Woodall, talk show host of The Sports Shop with Reese & KMac, Erroll Reese. Five finalists will go on to compete in the live finale, held Saturday, August 11th, at the Hanesbrands Theater in downtown Winston-Salem, NC. The winner receives a prize package that includes $2,000 cash, recording studio time and head shots. This year, prizes also include $2000 cash donated by the Claire Culbreth Music Fund,in memory of Claire Culbreth, who competed in the 2017 Blind Idol Competition. Insightful Visionaries also arranged for a 1-year subscription to AIRA, assistive technology.
Among the exciting lineup of guest performers was Charity Hampton, 2016 Blind Idol Winner from Rural Hall, NC, who performed in at the Amateur Night at the Apollo series in April and The 2017 winner, Jordan Scheffer, of Asheville, NC, who is scheduled for a June appearance in the Apollo Series. The 9 contestants traveled to Durham with one purpose in mind, to win a shot at the Grand Prize. They hailed from Florida, Texas, Kentucky and North Carolina. Performances kept the audience on their feet with an abundance of ovations and applause. The 2018 featured artist was NOVACAIN, a.k.a. “The Blind Rapper”, and National recording artist from the Braille Music tour. Braille Music is a movement based around clean hip hop that inspires people to break through stereotypes and overcome adversity.
Insightful Visionaries, founded by Carolyn Marshall Covington, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to facilitate the independence of the blind and visually impaired community. The organization host events, activities, workshops and resources to assist the blind and visually impaired community with maintaining an independent lifestyle and participation in the mainstream community.
The 2017 Blind Idol hopefuls are visually impaired but overflowing with musical talent
Two distinct crowds converged in front of the Renaissance Raleigh hotel at North Hills on Saturday evening. The group in sweats, yoga britches and tank tops was on its way to get a good workout in the nearby gym.So was the other group, the one with people in suits, dresses and gowns. They just didn’t know it yet. Instead of exercising in a gym, though – up and down, up and down – they were exercising in the hotel ballroom, where the semifinals of the National Blind Idol singing competition were being held. After about the 10th standing ovation – that’s when I stopped counting – the people inside the hotel ballroom probably wondered whether they’d wandered into the right place.
They were in the right place, all right. The 15 contestants from six states were all deserving of accolades, as were the special guests who performed – winners from the previous two years’ competition and Matthew Whitaker, a 16-year-old masterful musician who flew in from New Jersey.
Ellen DeGeneres, through the magic of video, “introduced” Matthew. He’d appeared on her show and performed in April, and on Saturday he performed three original pieces on the Renaissance ballroom stage. If you don’t know who Matthew Whitaker is, you should. You will.
I tried to avoid referring to him as a prodigy – so hackneyed, so cliched – but Matthew is a bona fide one. The dude puts one in the mind of a young Stevie Wonder, and not just because they’re both sightless. He has the same confidence and mastery of the piano – he’s been playing since he was 3, when his grandfather gave him a keyboard – and he even looks like young Stevie.
I’ll tell you what: If he’d started singing “My Cherie Amour,” I’d have had to run out of the joint.
He was, in a word, superb.
“Superb” also describes the fearless competitors vying to go to the Blind Idol finals in Winston-Salem on Aug. 12. They, along with their families and supporters, came from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Nevada and Utah, in addition to North Carolina
The Blind Idol competition began modestly in 2015 when two employees of Winston-Salem’s Industries for the Blind – Anastasia Powell and Chris Flynt – came up with the idea for a competition for other blind individuals who possess musical talent. The winner receives, among other things, $1,000 and eight hours of studio time. Monica Barrette, a friend and formerly a local hairstylist who now does ’dos on Broadway, returned to work with cosmetology students at the Paul Mitchell School, who helped beautify some of the contestants. “We did her hair,” Barrette said proudly each time a singer sporting the school’s handiwork appeared onstage. AT NATIONAL BLIND IDOL, I’M PLEASED TO REPORT, THERE ARE NO GRATUITOUSLY SNARKY JUDGES LIKE THOSE ON THE TV SHOW ‘AMERICAN IDOL,’ WHO SEEM TO GET THEIR KICKS STOMPING ON A DREAM.
There was no dream-stomping Saturday night, which isn’t to imply there was no stomping. There was, but it was included in the deservedly raucous ovations. The response from the audience seemed to send the singers floating off the stage. When the last winner was announced, the 10 contestants who weren’t selected cheered just as wildly as everyone else for those who did. Tre’ Tailor, a former local radio personality now living in South Carolina, was one of the judges. She spoke after the show about how hard it was to select those who would go on to Winston-Salem. “At least we got to pick five” of the 15, Tailor told me. “I can’t even imagine how hard it would’ve been to pick just one.”
Neither can I. A hotel representative said there were about 325 people already inside to cheer on the singers when the show started Saturday, and workers scurried hither and yon shoehorning in more seats for late arrivals. If you weren’t among them, you missed a terrific workout – and show. How terrific? This terrific: It was only later, while driving home, that I thought about the contestants’ disability. As was everyone else there Saturday night, I was too focused on their abilities.
THE 2017 BLIND IDOL SEMIFINALS
Insightful Visionaries hosted the 2017 Blind Idol 3rd Annual Semi-Final for IFB Solutions, held at the Raleigh Renaissance Hotel, North Hills in Raleigh, NC. The evening was compared to “American Idol. Contestant were cheered on by a standing room only crowd. The Special Guest artists who were invited to perform were selected from artists who would provide inspiration to aspiring talent and have achieved great success through determination, in spite of their own personal challenges. Guest performers included, the 2016 Winner, Shane Dittmar and 2017 Winner, Charity Hampton. Special Guest performer for 2017 was Matthew Whitaker, Internationally renowned Teen piano prodigy. A few weeks before the show Matthew attracted the attention of “Ellen DeGeneres Show” producers and Matthew’s story and talent was featured on the show.
The 2016 Blind Idol Winner Charity Hampton and 2017 Winner Jordan Scheffer. Both were recommended by 2017 Blind Idol Special Guest artist, Matthew Whitaker to perform on the Apollo Theater’s “Amateur Night at the Apollo” in 2018. Charity will appear on April 25, 2018. Jordan’s performance date is June 27, 2018.