When you picture the typical hearing aid user, you may not think of a young, successful musician. Musicians need their hearing to succeed, right? Mandy Harvey is proving this theory wrong and creating beautiful music along the way.
From age four, Harvey knew she had a passion for music and spent her time performing, going on to win “Top Female Vocalist” at her high school. From there, she went on to Colorado State University, majoring in Vocal Music Education. Unfortunately, at age eighteen, she experienced a gigantic setback – she lost her hearing. Her nerves were affected by a connective tissue disorder that left her completely deaf. She first noticed the she had difficulty hearing recordings, and then went on to experience near-total hearing loss. Believing there were no musicians with hearing loss, she left the program and spiraled into a depression. Her entire life’s goal was now inconceivable, so she searched for a new meaning.
Harvey tried out different career paths, still considering education, but her old college professor brought her back to music with the introduction to Mark Sloniker. Sloniker is a talented jazz pianist and composer who has collaborated and toured with major acts throughout the United States. This introduction sparked in Harvey the desire to return to music, so she began performing at Jay’s Bistro in downtown Fort Collins, Colorado. She started by going barefoot and putting her hand on the piano to feel the vibrations and the beat. As she’s gotten comfortable with her band, she can rely more on cues to know when she should begin singing and when the song progresses. Harvey continues to perform live and released three records so far – Smile, After You’ve Gone, and All of Me, with Try as her greatest hit. Despite being a musician with hearing loss, she has perfect pitch and timing.
Last month, Harvey went on national television to sing Try in front of the America’s Got Talent judges and audience. The judges, particularly Simon Cowell, were wowed by the fact that she wrote the song, performed it perfectly, but couldn’t even hear her standing ovation. She says that she doesn’t want to be known as the musician with hearing loss and wants to be judged equally, and this stage was the perfect place to do just that. Through her live performance, she hoped to encourage others not to give up or doubt themselves, something she experienced when she first lost her hearing.
This musician with hearing loss spreads the message of hope and courage daily, not only on the stage, but also in her everyday life. Harvey’s champions the causes behind No Barriers USA and the Hearing Loss Association of America. The first is a program that aims to push past “good enough” and help people reach their greatest potential to create a lasting impact. They host summits to encourage participants to find their purpose, innovate, collaborate, and elevate others through their message. The Hearing Loss Association of America provides resources for those with hearing loss and their family members to educate and aid them with their impairment.
Mandy Harvey is a perfect example of someone who didn’t let adversity get the best of her, and instead thrives despite her hearing loss.