Artist of the day: Marion Gwizdala
“I can remember, say, when I was 15 years old, playing football outside,” said Gwizdala, 54, who lives in Palm River, plays music professionally and works as music director at New Life Unity Church on Florida Avenue. “I used to be able to catch a football when it was dusk, or sometimes even dark.”
That was before a doctor diagnosed him with a progressive, degenerative condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which runs in his family and caused him to lose his vision.
After being diagnosed at 17, he prepared himself to be blind the only way he knew how: he hoped he could be extraordinary.
Gwizdala, who is president of the National Federation of the Blind’s special interest group for guide dog users, has been on stage since childhood, when — as the only third grader willing to walk around in his underwear — he played the emperor in the Emperor’s New Clothes. He learned to play guitar before he became blind and he kept playing after he lost his sight. And last month, he released his second independent album, a collection of songs of a genre called posi music.
Posi music, or positive music, is music with positive themes. It’s one way Gwizdala expresses his message of equality.
“One of my favorite adages (is) whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right,” he said.
He hopes his message is clear, to people with or without sight: it’s all right to think you can.
“The community should expect that from us,” he said. “And we should expect it of ourselves.”
For more on Gwizdala, check out Arleen Spenceley's story here.
Photo: Atoyia Deans, tbt*