Blind band hits all the right notes for charity

THEY are the latest all-girl singing sensations with the songwriting skills to match their angelic voices.

But one difference sets ZASS apart from their chart-topping contemporaries – they are all registered blind.

Zo Moskal Guy, Amy Moar and Sally Clay performed together for the first time at the Scottish Parliament to mark the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille's invention.

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They have now released their first CD, Join the Dots, to raise money for the Royal Nantional Institute of Blind People. It features a wide range of their own songs, accompanied by pianos, keyboards – and at one point, a Braille typewriter.

Zo, 17, from North Berwick, was born partially sighted and has been performing since she was a child.

Amy, also 17, lives in Liberton and studies classical and jazz piano, singing, percussion, clarsach and composition at the City of Edinburgh Music School. She was born blind and reads music in Braille. Both girls met Sally, 29, from Glasgow, at a music workshop organised by teacher Mairi Graham. Sally, who is also blind, is an award-winning singer, songwriter and pianist, who trains disabled people in professional music theatre.

They recorded the CD at a studio in Glasgow. All but one of the songs are their own compositions, and they include pop and jazz songs, instrumentals and an a capella chant.

Zo, a pupil at North Berwick High School, said she now hopes to go on to become a professional musician. She taught herself to sing and play the piano, and also plays the guitar.

She said: "We're all really solo artists, but we do work together to a certain extent. Sally has helped me put the finishing touches on my songs.

"Music is one of the centrepieces of my life. I do find it more difficult to read music than the average person. I've never quite been able to sight read, and I do get frustrated when I can't read printed music. But most of the time I just accept it and feel grateful for my ability to sing and play by ear."

Because of their sight loss, all three have come to rely on their sense of hearing more than most people.

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Amy, who also hopes to become a professional singer, already performs with the groups Na Clarsairean and The Spolkestra. She has played at several charity concerts, and has even performed in front of the Dalai Lama.

Amy said: "I was born blind but I don't feel that not having vision affects my musicianship. Music is very important to me as it is the thing that makes me feel happy. I use it as a stress-buster."

Sally said there were many "urban myths" about how sight loss could affect the ability to play an instrument.

She said: "You don't need sight to play a piano, the geography of the instrument can be learnt 'kinaesthetically' – that is, through the act of playing the thing.

"I've read Braille music since I was 16 and deeply regret not having learnt it earlier. I'd like children with sight loss to learn music Braille at the same time as their sighted peers learn print."

The band's album is on sale for 9.99 and 50 per cent of the price is being donated to the RNIB, the country's leading sight loss charity.