This is Bill. Bill is originally from Pittsburgh, but he lived in Louisville, Kentucky for a portion of his life. He is happy to be back in Pittsburgh now. Bill was born blind, and grew up with the church playing a big part in his life. He actually memorized most of the Old Testament (and all of the New Testament) from an audiotape he used to take out of the library. Unfortunately, he was sexually assaulted at a very young age at his church, and his visions from it still haven’t gone away. He gets SSI benefits that cover his rent, but he has been out here singing for the past 30 years to pay for food. He stressed that he has never done a drug in his life or touched alcohol, and he hates the way people treat him on the streets. He’s been spit on many times for “pretending to be blind.” When I asked to take his picture, he said “put my picture all over the world.” Bill sits out here singing with his radio every single day, and whenever I talk to him he is nothing but gracious.
Bill once opened for John Lee Hooker at Carnegie Hall! Here’s a set list of some of his songs:
All Photos by Zach Schaffer