In these difficult times, we’d like to bring you some reminders of the wonderful things that our industry has achieved in recent years. Today, we’d like to bring you an example of how we came together, when industry organisations supported a talented disabled musician to enable him to teach and inspire others to make music…
Tom Doughty is an accomplished lap slide guitarist, singer and songwriter. He has four critically acclaimed albums to his name, seamlessly blending pop, jazz, folk, and world music influences.
In 1974, Tom was injured in a road traffic accident which left him paralysed from the chest downwards and with impairments that also affected his fingers and prevented him from playing music.
He recalls the frustration of creating music in his head but not being able to hear it in the air. In his own words “I was alive, and life went on. An experience like being reborn, I commenced the rest of my life as a disabled person and started to get on with it.”.
Once he was home from the hospital, his family adapted a guitar for him to play on his knee and he improvised a slide on his finger and began to practice. In 1999, he took the plunge into full-time musicianship taking early retirement from a social work job.
Since then, with persistence and hard work Tom has developed his own truly unique way of approaching and playing his instrument, he’s written and released four albums, toured nationally and internationally and teaches lap slide teacher.
Tom says: “My disability forces me to be a more creative and resourceful musician. I think out of the box and, if anything, my disability strengthens my musicianship. When I play the guitar well, the experience feels emotional, sensual, technical, controlled yet spontaneous”.
Tom gained support from so many people and organisations, including industry charity Music for All, Creative United, Korg UK, Shure and JHS. Supported by these organisations, he was able to embark on a UK wide tour of Spinal Injuries Centres in 2019.
He visited 12 UK Spinal Centres where he was greeted with enthusiasm and support. At each centre, rehab staff and people with similar disabilities to Tom participated in a teaching workshop. Additionally, Tom provided a concert and a guitar with equipment was left at each hospital to allow the idea to germinate. Tom also provided lessons through Skype to those participants who were keen to develop their skills.
Tom explains: “When someone has a Spinal Injury, it is a time of massive change and upheaval in life, yet it is also an opportunity to have time to learn and re learn new ways to be creative”.