Awarded Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2007, Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first Deaf person in musical history to successfully create a full-time career as a solo percussionist.

She gives more than 100 performances a year worldwide, performing with the world’s greatest conductors, orchestras, and artists. A featured solo performer in the opening ceremony of the Deaf Olympics in Taipei in 2009, she was also guest performer in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002. In July 2012, she took a lead role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

With over 86 international awards, she is a triple GRAMMY award winner and BAFTA nominee. Her solo recordings now exceed 30 CDs. She is also a successful author and an eminent global activist in the world of motivational speaking.

You must follow your instincts and believe in yourself even if others don’t. There were times when I was judged on my deafness before I even played a note. And there were times when I played and still the deafness outweighed their decision to accept me as a musician. 

I feel so humbled to be listed alongside such inspirational people in the Power 100 list. Receiving recognition encourages me to reflect on the path I’m embarking on. I find it useful to stop once in a while so I can pull together all the strands of my overall vision. 

I knew I could be a professional musician and create a solo percussion career. Belief and determination were paramount, not to mention a good dose of humour! The Deaf person I find most inspiring is my Dad.

I am proud that the career of full-time solo percussionist has proved itself to be, without doubt, sustainable – which was my aim from the start. I am also proud that I have discovered news ways of listening, without which I would never have been able to pursue my career.

The best piece of advice I received was to know your stuff, know who you are working with and give them your best! Practise the art of creating your own opportunities, take as many chances as possible and always believe in yourself.

Published in BDN December 2014 issue