When listening to voices unlike our own, what can we learn about becoming more thoughtful, open artists? How can listening to these voices help us become better neighbors within our communities?
To find out, 21CM looks to the life of Laurie Rubin, a singer who knows first-hand how important it is to practice openness towards those who seem different. Born blind, Rubin endured a significant amount of bullying and hostility as an adolescent. Those experiences cut away at her self-esteem and sense of hope; nevertheless, Rubin remained committed to music and went on to build a successful career as an opera singer, educator and author (did we mention she also makes jewelry?). But her experiences with bullying – as well as a general sense of discomfort that Rubin perceived from those not accustomed to interacting with blind people – led her to address the issue of acceptance more directly. In 2012, Rubin published her memoir, “Do You Dream in Color?: Insights From a Girl Without Sight.” On subsequent book tours that were frequently combined with anti-bullying workshops, Rubin spoke frankly about her life, emphasizing how important it was for victims of bullying to remain hopeful and true to themselves.
Currently, Rubin lives in Hawaii, where she and her wife, Jenny Taira, along with Cari Taira, co-founded and now run Ohana Arts, an arts education program for students age 6-18 that combines songwriting, singing, drama and musical productions. With a specific mission of fostering acceptance among participants and providing a creative home to marginalized youth, Rubin continues to use her music to fight for a more compassionate, open-minded world.