Ali has been in a wheelchair since the age of 2 due to injuries sustained in a car crash. While she is the first Broadway performer who is disabled, she is not the first to perform from a wheelchair. That honor, as best I can tell, goes to Marjorie Lawrence in 1941.
Margorie sang some concerts from a chair or from her wheelchair. Usually, for her operatic performances, she would be placed on the stage, sitting on a rock, perhaps, and remain there for the rest of that scene. Rather static, but then, a lot of opera at that time was rather static.
What is the single biggest issue with singing from a wheelchair? I would say that it is support. It is difficult to get the proper foundation while in a wheelchair. It just requires a little more concentration and finding the right posture. Difficult, but not impossible.
What makes Ali so special? Well, she has won a Tony award. And she not only sang and acted, but she danced. All at once. You go, girl!
Do you have any wheelchair experiences? Have you ever performed through a disability? I’d love to hear your stories. I’ll be playing some of Ali’s songs as well as some of the other arias that have been sung from a chair on my Minnich Music Facebook page, so please be sure to check them out.
Until next time!