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The Voice’s Will Breman Breaking Boundaries and Tackling Low Expectations for Singers with Disabilities

Los Angeles, California, Oct. 8 – Will Breman introduced himself to America on NBC’s The Voice by identifying that he is on the Autism spectrum through a joke.

“It’s interesting when someone asks, ‘you seem so socially awkward, do you have Asperger’s?’ Because usually that’s my pickup line, since I have it [Asperger’s].” With that joke, Breman began the process of winning over the audience and the coaches on The Voice.

Breman is a singer and songwriter who hails from Santa Barbara, California. In his introductory package, Breman talked about how he has limited interests and how it was difficult not having a lot of friends growing up. He also touched on how some people told him that he wouldn’t amount to anything. With that, Breman was addressing the low expectations that many people with disabilities face. Breman said that “music became [his] biggest solace and helped [him] express [his] feelings in a way that would otherwise not come naturally to [him].” He said the opportunity to be on The Voice and “break those boundaries down” would be “mind-blowing” to his 12-year-old self.

The great thing about Breman’s introductory package on The Voice was that while it discussed his disability, it did not fall into the tropes of personal stories of disabilities meant solely to inspire those without disabilities. The focus was only on his genuine talent on stage, not his story. In fact, after the introductory video finished, his disability was not mentioned again.

Breman performed a unique arrangement of a Spice Girls song, earning two judges’ invitations to join their teams. Both Gwen Stefani and John Legend both turn their chairs around for him. Breman’s performance welcomed the incongruity of a male singing a Spice Girls song. Breman also sang a duet with Legend before eventually choosing him as his coach.

Reality competition shows have showcased many talented people with disabilities in recent years. From Kodi Lee and Ryan Niemiller on America’s Got Talent, to Lost Voice Guy and Robert White on Britain’s Got Talent, to Susan Boyle, Drew Lynch and Samuel J Comroe on America’s Got Talent: The Champions, people with disabilities have achieved success on these shows.

“As an avid viewer of reality competition shows, it was refreshing to see how The Voice presented Will Breman,” said Eric Ascher, Communications Associate at RespectAbility. “Based on this first audition, he has a great chance to go far in the competition and continue to break down stigmas.”

The Voice airs on NBC on Monday and Tuesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT.

Meet the Author

Courtney Murray

Courtney Murray hopes to combine her broadcast journalism education with her professional experience in the disability field, including a previous internship with AAPD, to further her knowledge of communications in nonprofits.

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