Guest Post: Musician Jez Colborne reflecting on if/how being disabled affects his artistic practice


For UK Disability History Month last year we asked the musicians and artists we work with to respond to a provocation: “How does being a disabled artist/musician influence your creative process? Indeed… does it?”

We heard from composer Ben Lunn, trumpeter Robyn Steward and musician Hannah Shelmerdine about their thoughts on the topic.

We were also delighted to hear that the question had struck a chord with disabled musician Jez Colborne, who works with Mind The Gap and who sent us the following response…

Jez Colborne is an older white man with short hair, expressive features and a short beard.

As a disabled Artist my creative process involves different things and strategies. I am a kind of mad professor, because trying to read music hinders what I have to do or play because I don’t want to follow rules or regulations. I find that because I have a learning disability people have prejudiced thoughts and assume that I am not capable of complex music. However if they bothered to hear or see what I have created over my career I think they would get a shock and a kick in the butt!

I will not have people saying play Three Blind Mice as I am not a child, I am an adult! I am not from outer space or a robot…I am human, I am me. I am first and foremost an accomplished Artist who can mesmerise your thoughts and feelings, take you to different worlds to play what no other able-bodied Artist can do or play.

My music has been used in different shows and has been all over the country and world. I have worked with other musicians who have helped me in creating music for these shows like Irresistible which was the first show about my love of sirens and was the beginning a trilogy with 2 other shows called Gift and Trickster.

I have always loved different kinds of music from Rock to Jazz and Gospel to Funk. I love working on my own and with other people. I have worked with a number of different people who mentored me and helped me create music and songs for these 3 shows and it was all very different from other stuff I had done before. In Irresistible I played a character who travelled to face the sirens of doom. The next show was called Gift which was in a shipping container and it was about the Trojan horse and the last show was Trickster, which happened in Ireland with another company called That’s Life.

A big thanks to Si McGrath and Billy Hickling and all who helped me make it possible and of course Mind the Gap has supported me in so many ways over the years. They have helped me become more confident in myself as an Artist and person, I am in the Mind the Gap Band which I love! I have been able to tour all over the country and even to America which was an amazing opportunity and I’ve met loads of new people to collaborate with, as we all bring something different to the table.

What I want people to know is that I am an Artist whether I have a disability or not.



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