For those of you lucky enough to score a ticket to The Greenwich International Film Festival’s Opening Night Party last summer, you had the good fortune of hearing Blessing Offer sing live. If not, perhaps you have heard him on the popular NBC show The Voice. Either way, it is unlikely that he didn’t make a lasting impression.
On my way to New York the other morning, I ran into Blessing again and spoke with him at length about his life and the documentary he is in the process of making. His story is nothing short of extraordinary.
Blessing was born in Nigeria with almost complete blindness in one eye. His parents, in the hopes that they could save some of his vision, made the gut wrenching decision to allow a 6-year-old Blessing to move to America with an Uncle to be able to get help at Yale Medical Center.
As any parent can imagine, letting a desperately loved child leave you because you know he will be better off elsewhere, is a truly selfless gift. Blessing went through countless surgeries on his eyes in the first few years, but his upbeat nature and his infectious smile were always with him.
Playing in the backyard of his uncle’s house with friends when he was 10 years old, Blessing was hit in a vulnerable part of his one “good” eye and lost his vision completely. He told me he was concerned that his parents would think of him as a failure for losing his vision. Instead of succumbing to darkness, Blessing began to lean increasingly on other skills and discovered his ability to connect with others through music.
The first time Blessing’s parents saw him sing was on The Voice. For Voice fans (I admit it is our favorite family show!) he got a four-chair turn and was on Team Pharell and then Team Adam. Blessings parents had never heard him sing until the moment his Voice was blasted out to the world on primetime television. After two decades, Blessing is ready for his homecoming. He wants to return to Nigeria to sing for his family and his people and to thank them for the wonderful life they let him live. As he told me on the train, everyone has something; I would rather have my challenge be visible to everyone than have a challenge in my head or my heart.
There is no doubt that Blessing’s life and talents are a gift to the world that have yet to be fully realized. Let’s hope we all get to watch Blessing’s story unfold as it comes to the big screen.