The camera pans across four bathroom stall doors, revealing a set of legs in each.
It stops at the last stall, where no legs are visible. Instead, a muscular arm reaches down, and Seattle musician Mindie Lind lowers her body to the floor, to the beat of the tune she wrote, “Mississippi Misfit,” performed by her band INLY.
It’s part of Lind’s not-so-secret strategy to create a public conversation about what she calls “Crip Culture” – the issues that people with physical disabilities face every day.
Mindie Lind was born without legs. And while her arms are strong, they certainly aren’t conventional.
“I have six fingers,” she says. “And my right arm is actually fused, which is not something people usually notice.”
What they do notice is Lind cruising around Seattle on a skateboard. And her singing voice. Some critics have described it as smoky. It’s more like the aural version of honey: sweet and thick and rich.
Lind is the front woman for INLY, which showcases her neo-country style songs. INLY released its first EP in late 2014, and Lind has been everywhere this year, from a featured performer in the City of Seattle’s Pianos in the Parks program, to the opening act for HBO’s “Girls” creator Lena Dunham, to one of City Arts magazine’s Top Ten Artists of the year.
It’s been a remarkable ride for the Georgia-born Lind.
“I was adopted into a Southern Baptist home,” Lind recalls. “I definitely thought it was God I was falling in love with, but have since realized it was the music.”
Lind sang in the church choir three times a week. She learned to play the French horn at her arts-oriented school.
“The reason I started playing horn,” she says, “It was the one that fit my body, honestly.”
A French horn has four keys on the left hand, exactly the number of Lind’s fingers. The horn’s round bell fit perfectly into her fused right arm. Lind mastered the instrument, and was even part of her high school marching band.
“Thankfully, I was a really good horn player, so it didn’t matter that I just sat on the sidelines,” Lind says, laughing.
Lind recalls feeling too big for her Georgia town. After she finished college, she worked up the courage to move across the country to Seattle. She had never even visited the city.
“I heard there was mountains and water in the same place,” she says.
The move wasn’t motivated by Seattle’s music reputation. Lind had a job with an airline; she’d given up the notion of a musical career when she started college. But after she arrived in Seattle, Lind felt the pull of her childhood love.
“Seattle’s music scene is the reason I’m here, the reason I’m staying,” Lind says simply.
These days Mindie Lind uses a piano keyboard to help write her songs. She took lessons as a child, until her teacher realized Lind’s unusual arms and fingers meant the young girl couldn’t use the traditional techniques. Recently Lind devised her own playing method; it was good enough to get her a featured video spot in Seattle’s Pianos in the Parks summer public art program.
Her goal now is simply to keep writing and performing, solo and with INLY. She’s proud of her music and wants to get it out to as wide an audience as possible. And she loves that the videos that show her body pull in audiences who are curious about her. They’re curious about Lind, and they stay around for her songs.
“It’s unavoidable,” she says. “But it’s a huge passion of mine to use our music as a vehicle for talking about some of that stuff.”
See INLY’s music videos and find out more about their new EP at their website.
This segment originally aired Dec. 18, 2014.