46 artists with disabilities sing a message of hope and inclusivity

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
Wheelsmith. (PHOTO: True Colors Festival)
Wheelsmith. (PHOTO: True Colors Festival)

Aiming to raise awareness on how people with disabilities have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, 46 artistes from 15 countries or areas came together virtually to perform an updated rendition of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’.

True Colors Festival, an initiative by the Tokyo-based non-profit organisation The Nippon Foundation, released a four-minute music video that showcases diverse musicians with disabilities, hoping to send a message of hope and positivity in the midst of the pandemic.

Filmed collaboratively yet remotely from each of the artists’ homes, the 46 artists featured include singers, rappers, musicians, and dancers, spanning over various styles and genres of performance.

Homegrown musician Wheelsmith, a rapper, composer and music producer, is one of the 46 artists in the music video. He had previously performed in Singapore’s 2019 National Day Parade.

Rapper Signmark from Finland, the first deaf artist signed to a major record label, Japan’s blind virtuoso jazz violinist Yusuke Anazawa, and Malaysia’s Caliph Buskers, an award-winning pop band of visually impaired vocalists and instrumentalists, are also part of the lineup. A sign language interpretation of the performance is provided by Amber Galloway Gallego.

Malaysia’s Caliph Buskers, an award-winning pop band of visually impaired vocalists and instrumentalists. (PHOTO: True Colors Festival)
Malaysia’s Caliph Buskers, an award-winning pop band of visually impaired vocalists and instrumentalists. (PHOTO: True Colors Festival)

“The pandemic is intensifying these inequalities – and producing new threats,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres shared while urging governments to place people with disabilities at the core of COVID-19’s recovery and response efforts, adding that in this health crisis, people with disabilities are among the hardest hit.

Working with and supporting people with disabilities for the past 50 years, the foundation’s executive director Mr Ichiro Kabasawa shared in his statement that, “as societies everywhere envision life post-COVID-19, the global community of people with disabilities must be factored in, right from the ‘reset’. We can build a world in which everyone’s needs are catered for, and no one is left behind.”

According to the United Nations, 15% of the world’s population, amounting to more than 1 billion people, live with some form of disability. Even without the global pandemic brought on by COVID-19, people with disabilities face discrimination in terms of having access to education, employment, information and communication.

The music video can be viewed on True Colors Festival’s Youtube Channel below.

The music video paired with audio description, for people who are blind, have low vision, or are visually impaired, can be accessed here.