Frontline Initiative DSP Recognition

"Open Your Eyes" Video Brings DSP Recognition to Music

Who knew that a spilled cup of coffee would seal Sean Delaney’s fate to record a powerful song about supporting people with disabilities?

Delaney, a 27-year-old direct support professional (DSP) from New York, says music has been a part of his life since he was a teenager. He has been part of various hip hop groups and even has his own recording studio in his house. But it took his passion for music combined with his work as a DSP for Delaney to create a song that has exploded in the disability community and across the Internet.

This is where the cup of coffee comes in to play. Gary Malick, Delaney’s future mentor and director of his music video for “Open Your Eyes,” walked into a sandwich shop to grab a cup of coffee. He struck up a conversation with the woman working in the shop and told her he was a filmmaker. This woman happened to be Delaney’s girlfriend. As Malick left the shop, he spilled his cup of coffee and went back inside for another. Delaney’s girlfriend spoke up and told Malick about Delaney and his music.

During their first meeting, Malick asked Delaney what he does for a living. Delaney told him about his work as a DSP. Malick gave Delaney some “homework:” write a song about his job. Delaney went home and sat down to write a song that aimed to tell the truth about people with disabilities and direct support. Within an hour, “Open Your Eyes” was born.

Delaney’s song, “Open Your Eyes,” recognizes people with disabilities as valuable human beings. The song speaks of people with disabilities as independent thinkers with their own needs and wants. It is also a statement about working as a DSP and recognizing this line of work as important to people’s lives. In the lyrics, Delaney declares, This is an anthem of staff-members who care from the start/and play a part in another individual’s life.

What about the recognition that Delaney has received for his song and video? When he first played the song for his fellow DSP’s, they were “blown away.” Some had goosebumps. The “Open Your Eyes” video has been viewed over a quarter million times on YouTube, thanks in part to Delaney’s partnership with AutismSpeaks. Comments on YouTube include parents (many who say they do not listen to this type of music) thanking Delaney for his video, and others calling him a role model. Delaney had the opportunity to go down to Florida and perform during an Autism telethon.

In April 2008, Delaney, along with two other musicians, received the Excellence Award from the New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies (NYSACRA). Delaney says that he is honored to receive this award, and he truly feels like NYSACRA supports his vision.

Delaney continues to make music that makes people think and see deeper into issues. His father has dubbed him the “Bob Dylan of Hip-Hop”: A man who tells stories through his music. Delaney just released his newest album, “The Shining,” and in his latest song he addresses the issues surrounding Iraq War veterans. Delaney is carving out his own unique genre of hip-hop and looks to make a difference with his music. He has also started his own clothing line, HudCity Gear.

Delaney is amazed by the response to “Open Your Eyes.” One of the things he appreciates most is the recognition it has brought to the individuals with disabilities in his video, and all other people with disabilities. The power of seeing the faces of people with disabilities in the video has truly “opened” people’s eyes, thanks to Delaney and his talent.