Eighteen-year-old Emily Brown is a senior at North High School in Des Moines. Since she was in the sixth grade, she has had a dream to sing for the President of the United States. Her dream became a reality when President Barack Obama visited North High School on September 14, 2015.
Emily has been singing longer than she has been talking. She was born with SOD (Septo Optic Dysplasia), which is a rare congenital condition. She has a detached retina in one eye and a cataract in the other. In addition to being visually impaired, she is intellectually challenged. Emily struggled to communicate until she discovered music. As a baby, she would put her head right next to the radio. Music helped her learn how to say words, and has had a tremendous influence on her life.
She first sang the National Anthem at age ten for the Easter Seals Walk with Me, a fundraiser to create awareness and support for families living with disabilities. Over the years, she has sung for the Iowa Bucs, the Iowa Cubs, and the Special Olympics. Emily enjoys her Gospel music class at school, and she is a DJ at 88.1 FM, the Des Moines Public School radio station. She plans to start her own radio show called The Special Hour, a one-hour special to show the public that individuals with disabilities are just like everyone else.
Emily says singing makes her feel free. Singing makes her feel like she doesn’t have her “blindness” anymore. It’s therapeutic. Now, at eighteen, she’s gaining more experience, and she’s proud of her singing accomplishments.
Where is Emily headed next? Well, she’s auditioning for The Voice and hopes to make it on the show in the upcoming season!
Emily says, “Don’t focus on my disabilities. Focus on my abilities.”
Her disability certainly isn’t preventing her from living out her dreams.
Video Credit: Denise Brown (Emily's mom)