‘Bu Kao Pu’ lights up the future of visually impaired musicians

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“Performing is the only thing on my mind when I’m on stage,” said Xu Renyu, 22-year-old rhythm guitarist and bassist with “Bu Kao Pu”.

The group is made up of six visually impaired young people from Shanghai. Its name “Bu Kao Pu” literally means “unreliable” in Chinese, as all members play without reading sheet music.

Xi is blind, so listening is an important way for him to explore the world. “Music is everywhere. Any kind of sound is music to me,” he said.

October 15 is World White Cane Safety Day to raise awareness and recognize the achievements of people with total or partial visual impairment. The white cane serves not only as a practical mobility tool, but also as a symbol of dignity, freedom and independence for blind people.

The group was founded in 2018 by “May I Integration” Art & Commonweal Development Center, a charity that explores diverse career paths for the visually impaired.

“They are not an isolated band, nor a special group. It means a lot that they can make a living by following their musical dreams,” said Yu Huan, founder and president of the organization.

According to the Chinese Association of the Blind, more than 17 million people across the country are visually impaired, representing nearly 20% of the Chinese population with physical or mental disabilities. They face limited career choices with the professional massage therapist being their most common job.

Han Xingchen, the band’s frontman and lead guitarist, studied massage and piano tuning at a school for the blind. He wants to break stereotypes and one day become a professional guitarist.

“Being a blind massage therapist is actually a good industry. You can make a lot of money if you’re good. But that’s not the life I want,” Han said.

(Cover: The group “Bu Kao Pu” performs on stage. / CGTN)


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