Can you really sing, if you are unable to hear your own voice and perform a song on stage before thousands of people? Apparently yes.
Meet Amanda Lynn Harvey, popularly known as Mandy Harvey, who is not only a deaf American jazz and pop singer, but also a songwriter, who earned Simon’s golden buzzer for an original song ‘Try’ in America’s Got Talent – Season 12.
Born in 1988 in Cincinnati, Ohio, US, Harvey had hearing problems since childhood. Despite several surgeries, her hearing problems continued and she slowly lost her hearing due to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder. She became stone deaf by the time she had turned eighteen.
From childhood itself, Harvey loved singing and her talent was recognized at Longmont High School from where she passed out in 2006. She had to cut short majoring in vocal music education at Colorado State University, due to total loss of hearing and leave the university.
But, she was cut out to become a singer and destiny led her to jazz pianist Mark Sloniker, who encouraged her to become a regular performer at Jay’s Bistro in Fort Collins. She also went on to perform at Dazzle Jazz Lounge in Denver and got a chance to record several jazz albums.
For such an excellent singer, accolades started pouring in. ‘Jazz Times’ commented on her debut album, ‘Smile’, saying “The vocals are rich and captivating”. And she proved it by bagging the prestigious VSA’s International Young Soloist Award. She was also invited to perform at the Kennedy Center.
So, it came as no surprise that Harvey participated in America’s Got Talent – Season 12 in 2017 and stood fourth. To her credit all her songs on this reality show were her originals. Her memoir, ‘Sensing the Rhythm: Finding My Voice in a World Without Sound’, co-authored by Mark Atteberry, was published the same year.
What is unbelievable is that while she is being celebrated as a deaf person who finds pitches using ‘visual tuners’, she had received death threats within the Deaf community for promoting oralism, when she first took to the stage.