Deaf singer Mandy Harvey comes to CMU
When faced with an obstacle, we always have two choices. The first is to give up, turn around, and stop trying. The second is to keep living. Remember that it is just a moment in our lives, not who we are. One event does not define who we are for the rest of our lives.
Mandy Harvey has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disease that affects the tissue of the body, causing hypermobility and easily dislocated joints. It was because of this condition that Harvey lost her hearing.
Harvey was a vocal music education major at Colorado State University when she became completely deaf at age 19.
“I had to start my life over at 19 years old,” said Harvey. “It was a massive identity change”.
Harvey left the university after losing her hearing. She fell into a state of depression and refused to return to music. However, her family and support systems still tried to convince her to continue her passion.
Harvey was an auditory learner, but after losing her hearing, she was forced to become a visual learner. The problem: She was dyslexic. Harvey developed so much test anxiety that she would forget how to spell her own name. With the help of her teachers, Harvey was able to take all of her exams orally with an interpreter.
“There was a long period of time that I didn’t sing. My goal was just to live and figure out who I was again” said Harvey.
Eventually, Harvey did return to music. “I was just sick and tired of wasting my life away worrying that I would fail,” she said. “It was painful for a while, but I was encouraged by people who were more faithful in me than I was myself”.
Harvey sings in front of a tuner with a hand on her throat to feel the vibrations each note makes. “I basically play my throat like a piano,” she said.
During her audition for season 12 of "America’s Got Talent," Simon Cowell said, “Mandy, I don’t think you are going to need a translator for this,” and hit the Golden Buzzer, which unleashed a flurry of shiny gold confetti on the stage.
“It was so scary," she exclaimed. "I didn’t know what was happening, I thought I won a car!"
After achieving fourth place in the competition, Harvey went on to make a career for herself as a jazz/pop singer, performing across the country.
Even though she lost her hearing, she said she wouldn't change a thing.
“I have never appreciated music more in my life and I’ve never been a better person. If I got my hearing back, I would have to learn the world all over again, and I don’t want that. All (of) the experiences I’ve been through on this journey are a gift.”
Harvey is an advocate for No Barriers, a non-profit organization whose mission is to fully unleash the potential of the human spirit. Harvey believes you can accomplish anything when you stop allowing fear to get in your way.