Courtesy of Tim Fiori
The band performing in the Ohio Union today may be playing some rock covers, but they are not a typical rock band.
Flame is an internationally-touring band in which each of its 11 members has some form of disability, ranging from autism to blindness.
Flame will be performing in the Performance Hall of the Ohio Union on today at 4 p.m. The free performance is in conjunction with the annual Multiple Perspectives on Access, Inclusion and Disability Conference taking place this week. The concert will be combined with a reception, which includes a poster session where about 20 students will present their work.
Scott Lissner, the university’s American with Disabilities Act coordinator, said his office partnered with others to bring the band here. One of the things he liked about the band was that while it never hid the fact that members had disabilities, it also doesn’t promote itself solely from that perspective, he said.
“They are simply playing good music,” Lissner said. “They’re an up-and-coming good band that coincidentally all happen to have disabilities and are operating in the world effectively.”
Lissner said the band tries to focus on specific disabilities, not just being generally disabled.
“We tend to focus on subtypes of disability, you know, a particular impairment or a particular condition, not the common experience of disability. That’s different, and I think that’s something positive that they have to offer to the experience,” Lissner said.
The band got its start in upstate New York through Lexington Center, an agency that offers support to people with disabilities.
Tim Fiori, Flame’s public relations director, said the beginnings of the band can be traced to a talent show Lexington held eight years ago.
“Michelle King, our lead singer, got up and sang a song and she just blew everyone away, and the recreation director said, ‘We have to get a rock band,’ because she knew we had other people with talent,” Fiori said.
The center held open auditions and Flame was born.
Initially, the band was just going to play at the agency, Fiori said, but as more people saw Flame, the band got requests to take their act on the road.
“Then they got requests to play all around the world,” Fiori said.
Flame’s set list is an extensive collection of cover songs.
“They play 150 hits from the past five decades … rock, classic rock, country, pop songs,” Fiori said.
Flame’s performances can mean a lot to its audience.
“It’s definitely inspirational; we get so much fan mail, so much response, especially from parents who have kids with disabilities when we perform and it shows them that they can do great things no matter what disability they have,” Fiori said.
Fiori also said that when the band plays at public schools, they can have a profound effect.
“They change public perception about people with disabilities, these preconceived notions that people have, where they think people with disabilities can do certain things but not other things. But once they see them playing, their eyes are opened to see that, you know, they can do anything that anyone else can do,” he said.
The band has big plans for the future.
“We actually recorded an album in the studio a few months ago and it’s coming out next week,” Fiori said. “With the new album we’re hoping to get more radio airplay because they’re not cover songs and maybe get a record deal, which is one of our goals.”