Image of the first words of the act creating the school along with early pics of buildings





In the museum, we have the Art Chair that was created by Amy Berry, who was a student of Gretchen Bettes.  Gretchen is responsible for the wonderful background for the timeline on the opposite side of the room. There is more information here.

Below are just some of the magical people that make up our star musicians - over many years. Many of these people are still alive. In the museum, we have music by Arizona Dranes, Fred Lowery, Leon Payne, Malford Milligan and Storyville, along with Rocky Benton and Balde Gonzalez. Finally, we have the state song of New Mexico, written by Elizabeth Garrett. Read more about these alumni below.

  • *Arizona Dranes  - The true voice of Gospel Music and a student at the Blind, Deaf and Orphan School.
  • *Balde Gonzalez - recognized  for his "excellence in the Tejano music industry."
  • *Elizabeth Garrett - after graduation, she became the 'songbird of the southwest', residing in New Mexico with her father, Pat Garrett (who purportedly shot Billy the Kid). She also became a teacher and wrote the state song of New Mexico
  • *Fred Lowery - The Whistler. was a blind professional whistler who recorded a No. 9 Billboard chart hit version of "The High and the Mighty" with conductor and arranger LeRoy Holmes.
  • *Leon Payne - A country western singer/songwriter of note.
  • *Malford Milligan - Day student, has a much-sought after voice and is now with Storyville.
  • *Rocky Benton - an alumni that was the originator of that blues sound in Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Dwayne Jackson - Already an Austin favorite in the music world.
  • Forrest and Dorothy Goodenough - Two of TSBVI's excellent teaching staff.
  • Henry Leberman(n) - A student at the school in 1900 who became the head of our orchestra and was the grandfather of Lowell Liebermann, an Austin legend. His grandson, Lowell H. Lebermann would become one of Austin's finest statesman.
  • Jay Clark - An Austin original and legend who serenaded the patrons of the Carousel Lounge for over 20 years.
  • Ruby Wilson - Early 1900s  Musical Prodigy in Organ, Piano and Voice
  • T.J. Wade -  With Foot Patrol - article in the online Austin Chronicle. Check them out on Facebook.

* Check out some of these at our sound dome in the museum.


Art is taught now, but it hasn't always been taught. Children's playtime in the past has been mostly structured. The girls learned how to make baskets and clothes as a trade and not as artwork.

Girl sitting at a table making a basket by hand.

Up until the early 1900s, it was thought that the one talent that was innate in all blind students was music. But today, our students have excelled in arts of all type - even being part of an Austin Art Tour that teacher Gretchen Bettes set up and promoted. Read about the West Austin Art Tour published in the Austin Chronicle in 2017.

arts feature2



Back to Home