Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deaf jazz singer rises above disability

Listening to Mandy Harvey sing, you would never guess that her world went silent more than two years ago, altering the future she'd imagined. "I went to CSU for vocal music education," Harvey said. "And while I was there for the first month or so, I noticed that I was having trouble hearing my teachers." Even a long history of ear infections and surgeries would not foretell the personal tragedy that would follow.

"In a year's time I had gone from being slightly hard of hearing, as I have been all my life, to gone," Harvey said. That's when the depression set in. I locked myself in my dorm room for two weeks solid, and I didn't leave," Harvey said.

The deafness, caused by nerve damage, forced her to drop out of the music education program, and she eventually left school and her hopes of performing behind. That is, until she recorded a song at home for her boyfriend. "And my dad would listen to the recording, he's like that's it, that's it, you have it still," Harvey said. "And so it was like this eureka moment."

That's when Harvey reached out to Cynthia Vaughn, her vocal instructor during high school and college. "I e-mailed her and asked her if I could have a voice lesson again, and I think she might have thought I was crazy," Harvey said. Vaughn invited Harvey to tour her new studio, not knowing what to expect.

"I do know that she walked in the door with a stack of music and I thought 'oh lord, she thinks we're having a singing lesson'," Vaughn said. The pair sat down at the piano, and Vaughn played a five note descending scale, which Harvey sang, perfectly in tune. "I really almost fell off the piano bench," said Vaughn.

Unable to hear her own voice, Harvey now sings by the memory of notes, sight reading and sensation. "Well you get different vibrations, like the deeper ones hit in a different spot and they are thicker," Harvey said. "And then lighter ones you can feel up higher and they kind of tingle. I don't want to be famous, I want to be a person who gives people hope," Harvey said. She has already recorded one jazz CD, and plans to record three more by her 30th birthday, so she can share her music with her future children and grandchildren should she ever lose her ability to perform.

Mandy's website.


sharkguy said...

Would've been more impressive is she was tone-deaf.

sharkguy said...

Would've been more impressive if she was tone-deaf.

L said...

Would've been impossible if she was tone-deaf.