Get-hooked April 16, 2021
Singer-songwriter Lachi documents journey to total vision loss on YouTube series Off Beat
New York-based EDM singer and songwriter Lachi was recently told that she would lose her sight completely in a few years. She has not only embraced this diagnosis publicly but is documenting the journey to total blindness on a YouTube series called Off Beat.
Growing up, she hid her sight loss from the world. Now award nominated recording artist, film director and motivational speaker Lachi says she is open and super proud of her difference and is sharing her journey with the world on a YouTube series called OffBeat.
“I once hid my sight loss from the public while pursuing my music but now that I’m open, and super proud of my difference, I’m here to shout it from the roof”, said Lachi in an interview to Newz Hook. “A recent diagnosis sent me on a path from low vision to no vision, and the series OffBeat chronicles my journey learning the things I’ll need to learn and achieving my bucket-list goals before I completely lose my sight”.
The first episode of Off Beat featured Molly Burke, a motivational speaker and blind Youtuber with over 2 million subscribers, while the second was on the gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama, who recently received a life-time achievement award at the GRAMMYs. “The series has everything from makeup, skydiving and ballroom dancing to interviewing public figures in the disability, LGBTQ, BIPOC and other offbeat communities”, adds Lachi.
Hid disability growing up
As a child growing up in North Carolina to immigrant West African parents, Lachi says she was shy. It might be hard to reconcile that side with the fierce and feisty face she shows the world. Lachi found her voice while studying music in college but says a part of her remains that shy kid. Fortunately, her parents were mostly supportive of her career choices.
“They had seven children and a handful of unofficially adopted folks passing through at any given time; so they really just didn’t have the time”, she says. “When I opted to prance off to New York City, suddenly folks were like ‘wait, what?’ Lachi hopped on a bus to New York with nothing but a backpack and the bus fare, while my parents were out visiting Nigeria. It was a rough start but she was calls it one of the best decisions she ever made.
Lachi would go on to sign up with an imprint of EMI Records and went on to find her place as a dance music songwriter and vocalist. She kept quiet about her visual disability and it was only after many performances and panels at Disability Pride events that she embraced advocacy. She speaks on important panels and consults Fortune 500 companies on how to be more inclusive.
I don’t believe it’s anyone’s job to be a monolithic voice for their community. That’s a lot of pressure, and we’re all on our own journeys. Not everyone feels a calling for large-scale advocacy, and some of the most powerful impact, especially in the workplace, happens at the individual level. Me, however, I do feel that calling. Not because I’m any more equipped than anyone else, but because through music I’ve found a voice larger than my own that compels, and I go wherever it leads. – Lachi, EDM Singer & Songwriter
By being vocal and open about her disability, Lachi hopes to bring about a change towards artistes with disabilities in the music industry.
“I’m a musician with a disability. When I say this to people they say, “No you’re not, you’re normal.” I say, “Yep. I’m normal AND I have a disability.” The first thing I want to see is for folks to drop the stigma that having a disability means that person is lesser. When you see an awesome disabled person doing awesome things, that’s not the exception. One in four people are disabled, and one in one people are exceptional”.
This includes pushing for more venues to become accessible. “You wouldn’t deny someone access to your space or service based on race or gender, so why are you denying access based on ability. Listen, most everyone is eventually going to become disabled at some point, so let’s make a world where that’s not such a bad thing”.
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