Blind Oldham teen tackles music industry discrimination with backing of TV vocal coach Carrie Grant

By Aimee Howarth

A blind Oldham teenager has won the backing of a TV vocal coach and will feature on ITV’s Granada Reports as he attempts to tackle discrimination in the music industry.

Aspiring singer 19-year-old Richard Howarth believes being blind is preventing him from following his dreams and wants to break down barriers disabilities can present.

Working with charity project ‘Fixers’, Richard travelled to London to seek advice from TV vocal coach Carrie Grant, who has appeared on Fame Academy and Pop Idol.

“I want to fix the discrimination in the music industry and, being blind and a singer, this means a lot to me,” he said.

“I’m really putting my all behind this campaign of getting more blind and disabled people into the music industry.

“My experience has been amazing so far and I never imagined that the team at Fixers would be so passionate about this. 

“They’ve really given me the opportunity to bring my dreams to fruition.

“I hope this project will raise awareness and hopefully unlock doors for others who are in a similar position to myself.”

After struggling with depression while at college and worrying about his future – leading him to attempt suicide twice – Richard found solace in music and wants to help others do the same.

He performed in the London 2012 Paralympic Games closing ceremony, and released his first single ‘Take it Away’ in aid of Papyrus, a charity for the prevention of young suicide in October 2012.

The teenager is also planning a concert in early 2013 for disabled and able-bodied performers to showcase their talent and conquer discrimination.

Mother-of-four Carrie Grant, who has children on the autistic spectrum, is backing his mission and believes that impairments should not prevent artists from progressing.

“What Richard is pointing out is something we all need to hear, especially in the music industry,” she said.

“To be treated equally, whether that means being given a positive or a negative response to his music, should be his right. I fully support his plight.”

Richard’s quest will be broadcast on ITV’s Granada Reports on January 3 from 6pm.

The ITV Fixers campaign helps 16 to 25-year-olds change things they feel strongly about.

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