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Disabled singer tells of humiliation and hurt in the music industry

Disabled singer tells of humiliation and hurt in the music industry
20th May 2019 Ian Streets

The survey by Next Stage into accessibility in the entertainment industry generated some strong feedback from performers who often face huge obstacles in the studio and on stage.

In addition to raising awareness through the survey itself, the report references performers who have taken to other media channels to …

Ruth Patterson, co-founder of Holy Moly and the Crackers, has arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes. She told M Magazine: “Most of the venues we play are inaccessible or only accessible for the audience. We’ve had to cancel shows due to the fact that I can’t get to the stage! We have a very different time compared to other bands. I get exhausted very quickly and have to conserve as much energy as I possibly can to save it up for the gig, which means more work for everyone else: my band mates are heroes.

“I have played gigs with a dislocated hip, shoulders, rib, kneecap, finger etc. and twice managed to get pneumonia. It is tough and probably crazy, but I love what I do and I am lucky enough to have the best support around me to be able to continue.

I have rarely seen ANY support for disabled musicians. I only know of a handful of venues that have wheelchair access onto the stage – venues and promoters just don’t think that disabled performers exist. Well we do and there’d be a lot more of us if we had better opportunities to succeed in the industry.

“At every show without fail, I am carried around by my bandmates: I am forced to put up with the way it is as we don’t have the luxury of being picky about the shows we play, but it is humiliating, and it hurts!

“First of all, the industry needs to appreciate that disabled musicians do exist for anything to change. I am constantly having to correct staff at venues that no I am not ‘one of the girlfriends’ and yes I am aware ‘that the venue is closed for sound check’ and that they’re probably going to need me in there because I’m the lead singer of that band, rather than an overzealous fan! If things are going to change, there needs to be better education of venue staff and promoters for the needs of disabled musicians and disabled fans.”

To read the full interview visit

Blaine Harrison, the singer with the Mystery Jets, was born with spina bifida. He told the BBC: “A lot of venues don’t have an understanding of how to cater for someone who is disabled. We really want to do whatever we can to make life easier, not only for me, but for disabled people who come to our gigs.”

To read the full interview visit


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