Before becoming a finalist on season eight of “American Idol,” Scott MacIntyre was a concert pianist. He learned to play piano by ear at 3 years old because that was the only option he had. MacIntyre was born blind.

MacIntyre will perform two concerts in the area this week: 7 p.m. March 15 at Hilton Head Beach and Tennis Resort and 7 p.m. March 16 at the Bluffton High School Auditorium.

His blindness was a well-known storyline that season on “Idol,” but MacIntyre had another story to tell. He was only 23 years old when he was on “Idol,” but just four years earlier he had suffered from life-threatening kidney failure.

“The blindness was kind of enough, if not too much, to talk about on ‘Idol,'” MacIntyre said. “I just wanted to make music and not talk about my challenges so much. I felt there would be a time to go into more depth.”

It was a large factor in MacIntyre’s decision to write his book, By Faith, Not By Sight, which was published in 2012.

“It’s one thing to grow up blind. I couldn’t play sports, drive a car, see a pretty girl smile at me,” MacIntyre said. “But to have kidney failure, to be unsure whether I was going to live, to be so weak I couldn’t play music.”

His piano teacher’s wife donated a kidney to MacIntyre.

“I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and overwhelmed and confused,” MacIntyre said. “I also know what it’s like to hold onto hope and come out on the other end.”

MacIntyre initially wasn’t attracted to “Idol” because contestants weren’t allowed to perform with a musical instrument.

“I didn’t think it would showcase enough of who I was,” MacIntyre said.

But when a contestant performed on a grand piano on the stage, he decided the show could be for him.

“The piano is where my heart really comes out,” MacIntyre said.

The spirit of the local concerts is one of hope and encouragement, he said. All proceeds go to benefit the Pregnancy Center and Clinic of the Low Country. His book will be for sale at the events, and there will be meet and greets afterward.

“The crazy thing is, because of my music and secondly, because of my story, a lot of different people from all walks of life come to my shows,” MacIntyre said. “It’s for the whole family.”

by Laura Oberle