Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Blind 'American Idol' finalist to appear at Lighthouse of Pinellas fundraiser

Scott MacIntyre performs on American Idol last year. The pianist and guitarist, who is blind, will appear at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Wednesday.

Fox

Scott MacIntyre performs on American Idol last year. The pianist and guitarist, who is blind, will appear at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Wednesday.

It started with the bedtime music. Back when Scott MacIntyre was a toddler, his parents would tuck him in and turn on a cassette recorder playing church hymns or Disney tunes.

However, instead of lulling him to sleep, the songs would wake him up.

"I'd sneak out to our old upright piano to play the melodies I heard on the tapes,'' said MacIntyre, 24, who has been blind since birth.

Fast forward. Go past the midnight serenades at the MacIntyre home in Redondo Beach, Calif., past college at Arizona State University and graduate study at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Royal College of Music.

In 2009, MacIntyre made history as the first blind competitor in the finals of American Idol.

On Wednesday, MacIntyre, an accomplished pianist, guitarist and drummer who now lives in Arizona, is scheduled to appear at Ruth Eckerd Hall as keynote speaker during Tea for Tots 2010. It is a fundraiser for Largo-based Lighthouse of Pinellas, which has provided services to meet the needs of the blind and visually impaired for more than 50 years.

Most people have 180 degrees of vision in the center of their field, but Scott was born with about 2 degrees, said his father, Doug MacIntyre.

Scott has a saying, "You are the only person that can keep you from reaching your dreams," his dad said. "He never has let this disability stop him from setting significant goals.''

It hasn't stopped him from celebrity status either.

Since his appearance in the eighth season of American Idol, MacIntyre took part in the national "American Idols Tour Live!," joined rock icon Alice Cooper at his annual Christmas Pudding concert in Arizona, and released a CD, Heartstrings, which debuted at No. 18 on iTunes Pop Album Chart. This summer, he also completed a solo tour for Heartstrings, which took him to Tokyo.

MacIntyre credits Lighthouse, which has facilities around the country, for much of his success.

"Sometimes all it takes is an organization empowering an individual to use their skills,'' he said. "There are a lot of blind individuals out there, and Lighthouse does amazing work.''

MacIntyre began taking classical piano at age 6. Sometimes finding a teacher to work with a blind student was a challenge.

"My parents and I always looked for piano teachers who were willing to venture out,'' he said.

He would ask the teacher to put music on tape, recording the left hand and the right hand separately.

"I trained my ears to hear as much as my eyes would have seen,'' he said.

For Jessica Tomlinson, a former client of Lighthouse of Pinellas who also has been visually impaired since birth, MacIntyre's method is a familiar one.

"I play the piano after listening to the music on a recording as well,'' she said. Tomlinson, was a finalist in 2007 during Florida's VSA Young Soloist Competition, designed to foster fine art for people with disabilities around the state.

"I remember seeing him on American Idol, knowing he was blind, and I felt so proud and encouraged … someone with a similar disability that can achieve so much, and I hope his success encourages other visually impaired pianists in their career as well.''

Along with MacIntyre, Tea for Tots also will include a presentation of the Beacon Award to Sara Randall, 81, and her late husband, Harvey J. Randall, who died in 2002.

The longtime volunteers in the Lighthouse of Pinellas Children's Program are remembered for spending many years portraying Santa and Mrs. Claus at the annual Lighthouse Family Breakfast with Santa.

If you go

Tea for Tots 2010

What: Scott MacIntyre will be the keynote speaker at the event, which benefits the Lighthouse of Pinellas, a nonprofit that provides services to the blind and visually impaired.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater

Tickets: $50

Information: Visit lighthouseofpinellas.org or call (727) 544-4433.

Blind 'American Idol' finalist to appear at Lighthouse of Pinellas fundraiser 09/11/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 11, 2010 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Small helicopter crashes into Odessa home

    Accidents

    ODESSA — Firefighters and sheriff's deputies were investigating Monday after a small helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  2. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child

    News

    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  3. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it

    News

    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. Editorial: Senate health care bill would be disastrous for Florida

    Editorials

    The frantic effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with something — anything — ranks raw politics over sound policy and threatens the health care of millions of Floridians. It is a desperate attempt to declare victory by shifting responsibility from the federal government …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks in August in Doral.
  5. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-named prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times