HEARING IS BELIEVING: The Story Of A Blind Teenage Musician
It may not be one of the most technically efficient documentaries ever made, but Hearing is Believing is certainly one of the most heartfelt.
When we lose or are missing one of our senses, it is said that the other senses grow stronger to compensate for what’s not there. Rachel Flowers is a blind teenage musician who feels her way through the sound. Hearing Is Believing is her story told in a new documentary film by Lorenzo DeStefano.
The Prodigy Child
Rachel Flowers has both, a natural disability (she was born fifteen weeks prematurely) and a natural talent, not possessed by many. She is blind and gifted with the ability to create beautiful melodies. She first showed signs of being a musical genius at the age of two when she began mimicking every sound she heard, including classical compositions. At the age of four she started her musical education and hasn’t stopped since. This is her story as told by her collaborators, family and self.
With her sense of sight stolen from her, her sense of sound more than made up for anything she may have lacked. An auditory learner is someone who learns through listening. Music is a vibration; something that we feel. Flowers feels her way through the keys and strings in her life, adding a sweet melody wherever she goes. If there’s a piano in a Costco, she’ll play it and draw a crowd.
This film follows her journey through day to day activities and hear about her childhood and family life through her mom and brother; whom she lives with. Much of Flowers’ musical ability appear to be inherited and runs in the blood. Her parents bonded over music and were both musicians. As a single woman, the mom still writes music and loves to sing. When pursuing a career in the arts, a strong emotional support system is helpful and in some cases, vital to success.
It’s easy to feel out shined by a successful older sibling. As thankful and appreciative as he is of the opportunities he finds for himself, her younger brother is aware that he wouldn’t have them if it weren’t for Flowers and the reputation she has in her community. With lots of awareness of that, there’s only the slightest hint of sibling resentment, overshadowed by more awe and appreciation for his sister. The film has an honest tone about it. As far as siblings go, they appear to like each other and get along.
Hear You Me
Hearing Is Believing takes us through Flowers’ artistic process and shows us glimpses of her intimate world before, during and after rehearsals and performances. This film doesn’t focus on her blindness as a struggle but reinforces how incredibly talented she is and shows how crowds draw in around her because of the sound coming out of the instruments she touches.
We see and hear her play a multitude of instruments; piano, guitar, flute and her voice. She plays solo performances at churches and gets cameo spots on stage with Dweezil Zappa at his Las Vegas rock show.
The film takes viewers inside the day to day life of this working class family that lives paycheck to paycheck; a single mom and her two kids. There’s typical family life, sibling bickering, candid moments and sheer shrieks of delight as well as the slurps of soup. These moments of realism lend to a more reality tv feel. There aren’t any make up artists on standby. We see Flowers in all her forms; naturally undone and all dolled up with various looks in between.
There’s a sense of family values within Hearing is Believing that is lacking in a lot of today’s stories. This isn’t your traditional family with the two parent household. The struggle of a single woman raising two kids alone, whom have incredible talent – is no easy task. They don’t appear to be an edgy or radical family. In fact, they seem rather wholesome, which in today’s society by it’s very nature, might itself be considered “edgy”.
Flowers‘ obstacles in achieving her career goals don’t stem from her blindness, but rather just seem to be the same struggle every other musician faces when trying to be seen and heard among the crowed of other loud voices. She plays a different style of music than what’s popular in the mainstream. She feels her way through the melodies and it just sounds right. She appears to have fun with it instead of taking it too seriously, yet takes it seriously enough to show up and play at NAMM, networking and trying to make it as a career musician.
On The Technical Side
Hearing Is Believing is a two year journey spent with Rachel Flowers and her small close knit family. This might not be one of the most high tech documentaries I’ve ever seen but it’s definitely one of the more heartfelt. It has the feel of a reality show compressed into a feature documentary film with one of the best original scores I’ve ever heard.
Hearing Is Believing is an honest snap shot in the life of someone who hasn’t “made it” yet, but has all the talent, passion, drive and support behind them to do it. Flowers’ music is soulful and her story is inspirational. It’s a different and modern day version of the American Dream in practice, showing that not everyone has lost faith in it and some still believe it’s worth pursuing, obstacles and all.
Do you still believe in the American Dream?
Hearing is Believing is now available on VOD and in select theatres across the US.
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