Q&A with Mario Bonds, headline performer at Shot in the Dark Golf & Dinner Classic
Q: When did you lose your sight?
A: I lost my vision at age 9 to a degenerative eye condition called Morning Glory Syndrome that deteriorates the optic nerve.
Q: How long have you been a performer?
A: I began performing at age 11 after losing my sight; I have been performing for 15 years now.
Q: How did you decide to become a professional singer?
A: I believe music has healing powers and the ability to transport people anywhere. When I fell in love with singing and realize my God-given talent, I wanted to be an instrument of music’s healing powers. Moreover, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my big brother.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in being an artist who is blind?
A: There isn’t a difficulty in singing and being blind, but rather there can be challenges being a blind artist. It is one thing for people to tell you of a shocking, standing ovation or audience affirmation, but sometimes, I desperately wish I could visually see these moments.
Q: What is your favorite part of performing?
A: Becoming one with a song, and in doing so becoming someone else’s escapism. Moving someone to tears, or their feet, or making them dance or clap means we’ve shared a moment, a connection. I live for these healing moments and I feel most alive performing.
Q: What is your biggest achievement as an entertainer?
A: Being cast on The Glee Project, and the opportunity afforded me to meet and connect with people all over the country. We are all on a quest for purpose and music solidifies my daily purpose.
Q: What are your future plans and what are you doing now other than performing?
A: I am recording an audio book, promoting my recently released book, and traveling the country as a motivational speaker, inspiring young people. I would also like to return to the world of broadcasting in the near future.
Q: Tell us about the book you recently released and the motivational speaking you share.
A: My book is an autobiography, called “Without Sight but Full of Vision: The Journey Begins” which chronicles my childhood which was marred by abuse, abandonment, homelessness, and going blind, none of which could stop me from pursuing my dreams of becoming a success. I explain how I did this and hope it will be seen as a token of inspiration that one can overcome adversity.
My motivational speaking topics include, how to overcome adversity, redefining what it means to be disabled, the importance of diversity, equal access, and inclusion, ways to reclaim your power after abuse or assault, and the world of assistive technology.
Q: Tell me about the difficulties you had growing up.
A: My childhood was thick with the rebelliousness of a child who refused to go blind. Coupled with going blind was my family’s dysfunction. I struggled under abuse, abandonment, homelessness, and more. But education and music saved me.
Q: What has been your single largest obstacle in becoming a successful person?
A: As a blind person, there are always barriers that have to be knocked down, such as persuading employers that you are not a liability. I finally realized that barriers exist when one chooses to acknowledge them. I now choose not to acknowledge them and success continually finds me, so I am quite grateful.
Q: How did you manage to attend and graduate from college?
A: More than 50% of blind high school students do not graduate, let alone go to college. More than 80% of working age adults who are blind are also unemployed. I was determined to beat these odds. Moreover, I knew that education would be the key to my success and breaking away from the life I had known as a child. The use of assistive technology carried me through my years at George Mason University.
Q: What is your relationship with Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind?
A: CLB raised me. I attended camps for years and collaborated with CLB on outreach and fundraising long before Hollywood came calling. In 2004, I even spent time on Capitol Hill for CLB, campaigning to further the amazing work done for children who are blind or visually impaired. I am devoted to their mission as they have continually been devoted to me.
Q: What are you performing at Shot in the Dark on May 16?
A: A host of popular tunes along with some originals. I will make sure to include, “Brave” by Sara Bareilles, “Fireworks” by Katy Perry, and “I Believe” by Fantasia Berino.
Please join Mario Bonds on Friday, May 16th, at Woodmont Country Club for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind’s 2nd Annual Shot in the Dark Golf & Dinner Classic. There are limited openings available for the night golf and dinner / entertainment portion of the evening. All proceeds benefit Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind’s programs and services.