034: Mandy Harvey: Deaf Singer With An Angelic Voice And Incredible Talent

January 26, 2018

FYS 034 | Deaf Singer

The judges of America’s Got Talent could have never known that a beautiful voice could come from a young lady who couldn’t hear. Born with connective tissue disorder that affected joints and ligaments, Mandy Harvey got sick a lot of times and then finally lost her ability to hear. She describes the experience as falling down to a dark well and staying at the bottom for a long time, until she made the decision to start climbing up the walls. She wanted to do more in her life other than just give up. Mandy shares her audition song “Try” to show how a deaf singer was able to conquer the hearts of America.

This gal, Mandy Harvey, fits the bill. I first saw her when I came home one night, I kicked back on the couch and I flipped on the TV and I was watching America’s Got Talent. This gal gets up with a ukulele and starts singing. She had the most beautiful voice. Then I find out that she is deaf. She actually can’t hear what she is singing. The song that she sings is a song called Try, all about overcoming adversity, being in a dark place and then having to crawl out of a well to get where she is today. She’s come a long way. She’s touring, she’s got albums. That platform that she was on, America’s Got Talent, certainly gave her millions and millions of people as a worldwide audience who now know her. She really is there to give inspiration and hope to so many that have disabilities. I call it an A-ability. We go through her journey and what that was like, and when she finally lost complete ability to hear and then what she did to climb out of that and get where she is today. As always, please go and rate and review, it does help. If you want any info on what I’m up to, MarkPattisonNFL.com and you can get updated. Let’s get on to Mandy.

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Mandy Harvey: Deaf Singer With An Angelic Voice And Incredible Talent


I’m so jacked up right now because I am doing a podcast with this amazing soul and her name is Mandy Harvey. Mandy, how are you doing?

I’m really good.

For people who don’t know who you are, and I don’t know how that could be because you’re famous now. Mandy is somebody that I first saw on America’s Got Talent. I have always been a big fan of that show. After she was on this I happen to catch her on about the Quarter Finals or so, I don’t watch it regularly. I saw this amazing soul get up on stage, I was like, “I have to figure out how I can get her on this show.” She totally fits with the whole theme of what we try to do here, which is all about trying to overcome adversity and finding your way to a successful path. You have done that. Mandy is somebody who was born and had hearing difficulties. By the time she was eighteen or nineteen, she lost her hearing. What makes her amazing is that she is this incredible singer. She took fourth place in America’s Got Talent and here I am talking to her. Mandy, let’s start back from where you grew up?

I grew up in Florida actually. I grew up in Lehigh Acres Fort Myers, Florida which is in the southwest and then when I was about in fifth grade we moved to Colorado. I lived in Colorado for about fifteen years until I moved back recently about three and a half years ago to Florida again where all my family is.

How did your loss of hearing play out?

I was born with a connective tissue disorder but we didn’t know it at the time. I had EDS, which is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type 3, hypermobility. It affects all my joints, all my nerves and my ligaments and it affects your insides and all of the things that work. It moves your organs around. Some people have skin elasticity. For me, I just dislocate a lot and I have very fragile nerves.

What does that mean you dislocate a lot? Like you’re walking down the street and your knee joint comes out of socket? What does that mean?

Yeah. If I sleep on my side, it pops my hip out of socket then I have to pop it back in, and I roll over to the other side. Then I lay on that side and it pops my hip out of socket. When I wake up, my fingers are dislocated I have to pop them back into place. I can pop my shoulders in and out of socket like one, in, out, in, just that easy. I have two functional legs, but they don’t like me very much. My bad knee is my right knee. When I was a senior in high school, I stepped down wrong, hyperextended and dislocated my leg at the knee; complete dislocation. I had six major surgeries on that knee in a year and a half. My good knee is my left and it bends 45 to 50 degrees in the wrong direction.

At what age did you start to recognize that your hearing was starting to wane and go away?

I’ve had that struggle my entire life. I first turn to sound when I was six to nine months old so it wasn’t immediate. I’ve had a lot of ear surgeries, tubes put in, surgically removed. I have disformed Eustachian tubes so the pressure doesn’t release. I perforate my eardrums all the time. I’ve had sections of time where my ear drums would stop vibrating. It’s always been something that followed behind me. It’s always been like that bear chasing me my whole life. I was always a step ahead of it and not. Slightly hard of hearing when I was growing up, but it was never to a point where I couldn’t pursue music. Music for me was everything. It was my way to express myself because I was always a painfully shy child with a lot of anxiety. It was my way to say how I felt without feeling like people knew that’s how I really felt. It gave me a voice when I didn’t feel like I had one.

[Tweet “Music for me was everything. It was my way to express myself. “]

When I was going through all these surgeries and all these procedures, we didn’t know I had EDS at the time. It was a mixture of a lot of things. I had all these problems to begin with: the stress, trauma, hormones of being eighteen, nineteen years old and all of the medications in mass over and over again, fatigued my nerves for a lack of a better response. When I went to college, I was in the middle of all these surgeries. I stopped understanding my teachers talking to me a month into the program. I was a Music Major in Colorado State University. By Christmas, I was legally deaf and getting fitted for hearing aids. Then the new semester started, I had my hearing aids. My hearing progressed to a point where they did not help me with pitch or anything. I was dropped from the music program and became profoundly deaf within about nine months.

People know me as a football guy and a mountain climbing guy. What most people don’t know is that I was classically trained as a violinist for eight years. I can play the guitar, harmonica and other things like that. With the violin, I could feel it under my chin and I could feel it on my chest. With a guitar backed up in your stomach, you can feel those notes. I can hear those notes. I was never really taught in the violin method how to read music. Everything was done by sound. I interpreted that on to the violin. It’s called the Suzuki method.

I was the polar opposite. I was sheet music, ear training and sight-reading all the way. I was a big music theory person and still very much am.

Do you think that actually helped you learning it your way versus if you would have learned it my way then you wouldn’t know how to read the music, right?

Exactly. Everybody’s different. Everybody learns differently and so some people really gravitates towards the method that you use. For me, music theory is what saved my bacon. Once I stopped being able to hear, I was using visual tuners to see what notes I was singing and then going against sheet music. I’d sight-read note by note with the tuner to make sure I was singing the correct sounds. From there, I created my own method similar to what you were talking about but based off of feel. Instead of based off of an auditory, it was based off of feel. I would chart out on my throat singing one vowel sound like “ooh” then I would sit in front of a mirror and mark off on my throat where I could feel it the most as it would travel up and down while looking at that visual tuner to see what note I was singing. Specific notes buzz in the nasal cavities, specific notes rumble in your chest. You can actually see it walk up your throat. You get used to that vibration. You get used to that feeling. Even though you can’t hear that note, it feels right. It feels correct because you train yourself based off of that feeling, based off of the vibration instead of depending on your ears.

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. As you’re singing a song, say you’re singing Happy Birthday you’re not necessarily singing a note and then autocorrecting every single note that comes out as a singer. You start with a note and then you sing the next note and you hear yourself singing it correctly. Then you adjust if you’re wrong. Typically, it’s just a matter of trusting yourself. I think that was the biggest barrier for me to first get past the fear of failure and doing it wrong. Once I let go and said, “What’s the worst that can happen?” it opened a whole world for me of, “Who cares if I sing a wrong note from time to time?”

You sing like an angel. It’s really remarkable. While I was doing a research on you, I saw this several times and then you just talk about it. What is a visual tuner?

When you use a guitar, you have tuners and the little light changes to green when you hit a G correctly. I use a lot of visual tuners so as I’m singing it’s a whole gambit of notes. Then it shows me very accurately pinpoint it where I am singing then I can adjust accordingly.

She’s talking about a device that when you speak, you can literally see the notes: C, B, D, which you’re trying to hit. It’s measuring so then you can follow if you’re hitting that note correctly or incorrectly.

There’s a ton of free apps that people can download. The one that I use the most right now is called Pano. It’s free. It’s depending on what instrument you want to use but for me I just stay consistent. I train with it all day long, everyday. When I go to sing the national anthem, I find a D flat. I start there and I sing the national anthem. I’ll sit there 90 times before walking up to the microphone and hum that same note and watch that little guy say, “D flat,” and be like, “All right.” I hit it the same every time, but I just got to be nervous. I sing it into the phone and it shows me where I am and then I adjust accordingly to make sure I’m right on the money.

A lot of people talk about technology and what a negative thing it is. To me, technology has really enhanced so many different lives. Here’s another great example of what technology can do. You’re singing into your phone, it’s giving you a perfect pitch and then you’re able to go out and actually do your thing. It’s really cool.

FYS 034 | Deaf Singer

Deaf Singer: Technology has really bridged the gap.

For my community, technology has really bridged the gap. The ability to be able to see you in person instead of having a phone call, I can lip-read you from here. Also what you can’t see is I have a little bar below you that is captioning what you’re saying. I have a person on the other side who’s typing what you’re saying so that I don’t have to do and rely on lip reading. This technology is helping us to have a conversation from across the country. There are closed captioning phones and lights for fire alarms. The ability to text 911 instead of call them. That’s beneficial to people who can’t call or can’t talk for themselves or heck, what if there’s a person in your house and you have to be silent? You can get that information across without having to actually audibly say you need help. So many benefits to technology improving. It’s bridging gaps for people who have disabilities, language barriers. I can speak into my phone and it translates everything that I’m saying into French so that the people that I’m talking to in French know what I’m saying and they write it back and then it comes over in text in English. It’s amazing the things that have changed in such a short amount of time.

Going back to what you’re saying, when you now lose your ability to hear what’s coming out of your mouth, can you still hear that in your head that melody? Or is that that vibration that you’re saying in your chest or your throat?

It’s a feeling. It’s very much a ghost. I have an idea of what it sounds like in my mind, but I have a very clear understanding that probably what I’m thinking and what it really is, is nowhere close to each other because at this point it’s been ten years. The first year after I lost my hearing I could still fantasize different voices for people talking. Now, everybody is just me. They sound like me when I was eighteen years old. When I’m lip reading, I played what they’re saying in my head. It’s the same with music. To me, it’s just a feeling at this point. That reliance of understanding has really dissipated over the last ten years. It’s a little sad, it’s a little heart breaking, but at the same time I’m hyper focusing on the vibrations. I’m hyper focusing on the feel and the lyrics and things that I have control over. I feel like it’s made me let go more. I can’t judge myself as much anymore like before. Performance was something that petrified me. I was the kid who used to throw up and cry when I had to give a presentation. It used to be like the number one fear. People would rather die than give a presentation. People were more afraid of actually speaking at a funeral than being the person that was there being celebrated. Now that I can’t hear myself, I can’t judge how the sound comes out. I can’t say, “I could have sung that better or that note didn’t come out the way that I wanted it to.” It’s gone. It was just a feeling. It felt the way it felt and I’ve moved on.

Surely you’ve moved on because you’ve performed now in front of some huge audience. I’ve seen you in stadiums. I’ve seen you in arenas and the whole America’s Got Talent thing. That’s crazy with the amount of people you walk up there. You haven’t done this before and you can say that it doesn’t matter or you don’t care or whatever because you can’t hear those things necessarily, it’s a feeling. You’re still looking. You still have the ability to see and you can see all these people.

At the same time growing up, my biggest fear was losing my hearing. I thought surely if that happened that it would destroy me. Here I am. I’m still here. I’m still breathing in and out. I’ve got dreams and aspirations and I’m starting to discover a whole new world of possibility. I love myself and the things that I’m getting involved with for the first time in my life. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t like the song. I don’t sing it pretty enough for them. Somebody doesn’t believe my story or care about what I’m writing about. Who cares? I have already been broken down to the core of who I was. I lost my entire identity. You can’t take anything from me at this point. It doesn’t matter. I’m just here to encourage people.

You are doing that. You got the absolute right idea. I talked to so many of these different people who have overcome these unbelievable things; no arms, no legs or blind, all these things. I’ve had my struggles. I think it’s one thing to say about how you should be or if you’re not really taking that in heart, mind, body and soul or authentic about it, I think you’re living a lie. It seems like you have made that transition from this lost soul because you thought your identity was gone to where you are today and all these amazing things that have happened to you.

[Tweet “It’s one thing to say that you’re going to let go. It’s another thing to actually let go. “]

I have my focus in a different place. I think if I had done the AGT with the mindset of, “I want people to like me,” I think that would have been far scarier. I think if I had done AGT with, “I want to be famous or I want the attention,” I think that would have been far scarier and just not me. I went in to doing AGT with the idea of encouraging one person. If I fell on my face and I didn’t do well and Simon X’ed me off the stage, I would have been X’ed off the stage but I still would have been the same me. I would have encouraged somebody regardless. It really helped me let go. I agree, it’s one thing to say that you’re going to let go. It’s another thing to actually let go.

I think we’ve got a lot of the same philosophies. I always talk about where your focus goes, your energy always follows. If you want to be sad, that’s your focus, then probably your energy is going to be low. If you want to focus on something else, you’re going to go climb mountains and here’s how you’re going to do it. Then your energy is going to be a different level. I think it’s so key to get your mindset in the right place and do what you need to do to get yourself in that position, to be focusing and thinking about all the right things that are going to bring you success.

I also think that it’s instrumental to surround yourself with people who can help you with that goal. I have a dear friend of mine named Erik Weihenmayer. He talks about having a rope team. For him, climbing Mount Everest and things like that you have a team of people who help you get up that mountain. This rope team in your everyday life are these people who hold your hand and who are walking this journey with you and encouraging you when you feel like giving up. You’re giving back and encouraging them when they feel like giving up as well. I think that it is right. It’s having your mind focused and determined and set in a positivity. It’s also a heart for what your goal is and who want to see you succeed and who are going to cheer and buck you up when you’ve fallen down that same step 992 times, but on the 993rd time you’re going to make it. You just got to do it one more time. They’re going to be the ones who tell you that you’re going to do it even though you’re telling yourself, “This is impossible.” They’re like “Why?” I think it’s impossible in some respects to approach any challenge just by yourself because you’re not really alone.

FYS 034 | Deaf Singer

Deaf Singer: It’s impossible in some respects to approach any challenge just by yourself because you’re not really alone.

You actually you hit on my number two key to success, which is surround yourself with positive voices. It’s what you were talking about. Second part of that is Erik was on this podcast. He’s wonderful. For those who don’t know, Erik is a person who is blind and he’s done some remarkable things. He’s climbed Mount Everest. He’s climbed the Seven Summits. He has kayaked 300 miles down the Colorado River by himself. It certainly in his case takes a village to create this community. He surrounds himself with amazing people. It’s good that you recognize that. It’s good that you’re involved in his No Barriers organization. I just can’t imagine this. How long a period of time was it for you when you lost your hearing completely, you knew it wasn’t coming back before you started to emerge out of this and reset your mind?

I did it in chunks. For an entire year, I didn’t sing at all. I didn’t even think about music. I shut it down, which for a Music major, somebody who did it 80 hours a week of just music was a very long time. I moved back home, I started taking ASL classes. I got involved with the deaf community. It gave me a sense of purpose, but also a sense of human. I transitioned from feeling like the only stupid person in the room, the only broken person in the room, the only detached person in the room to understating that my life is different. It doesn’t mean that it’s not beautiful. That gave me a sense of purpose and a sense that I wasn’t just a broken doll. I had goals and I had dreams. I had made a serious mistake of attaching one dream with my entire identity. When that one dream died, I felt like I truly did die. Getting back into music and everything, that’s what people’s first thought of, “That’s when you turned your life around.” I had been back involved with music again after about a year and a half and just really baby steps of it. I didn’t truly start loving myself or my situation or not being bitter about not being able to hear until maybe three, four years after. I had gotten the taste of music again, but it just wasn’t the same and that bothered me every day but I wasn’t going to give up.

Eventually, I had to really work hard to kick my own butt and say that just because I am experiencing music differently than I had intended or I had dreamed or I had pictured when I was a kid doesn’t mean that this isn’t fulfilling and this isn’t beautiful and this isn’t everything that it needs to be. It’s taken me a lot of years. I like to describe the whole journey as I fell down a dark well and for a long time I just sat on the bottom and I couldn’t see any light ahead, nothing around and I just sat there for a long time. Eventually, I started making the painful choice to get up and start climbing up that side of the wall. I have fallen, re-fallen and broken myself and crashed back on the bottom time and time and time again. I’m climbing out of that well still. I can see the light at the top now. I want to call back at the people behind me to say that, “We’re going to get there.”

I can really relate to you what you’re talking about because you can appreciate as NFL players, you’ve been playing since seven or eight years old. Somehow or another you make it all the way up through high school, through college, you keep going. Then you get drafted or a free agent into the NFL. One day it happens to everybody whether you’re a Pro Bowl player or just a guy that barely makes a team or you’ve been around for a couple of years, but your career was cut off. You go through this sense of loss, which you’re probably talking about. What you’ve talked about is something I totally identify. It took me a couple of years before I got on track again and got my momentum and got my purpose, what I was going to do and how I was going to dig out. The whole key is re-channeling that same energy that you had before towards something new and in the process in between is just figuring out what that new thing is. Now, you’re back in the game. You’re starting to climb out of this well as you described it. You’re starting to grab the top on this side and the top on that side, pull yourself up and you start singing again. Where in there did you start playing the ukulele?

I started playing the ukulele about four years ago. I used to play guitar, but because of my EDS, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome my fingers kept dislocating and I couldn’t physically play the guitar anymore. It was causing severe pain and shooting all the way up my body. A friend of mine introduced me to this little ukulele. I just fell in love with it. It’s super easy to play. The strings are very easy to push as well. It doesn’t hurt as badly. My thumb still dislocates in the back as I’m playing and after about fifteen minutes I lose feeling in my arm, but that’s just my own personal barrier that I have to deal with. It just means that at a concert, I can only play one or two songs on the ukulele at a time before I need a break to play another one and give myself time to let the blood go through the finger tips and shake it out a little bit and pop my thumb back into place. About four years ago, I started playing the ukulele and I love it. I love it a lot.

I think it also matches well with your voice. For people who don’t know, the classical guitars are with steel strings and with the ukulele, they’re nylon. Now, you’re emerging out of Colorado State. You’re emerging out of this dark place. It took a couple of years to do and you connect with a guy named Mark Sloniker and he’s a jazz pianist. Did you start to collaborate with him in terms of starting to get up and sing in bars or lounges or how would you describe that?

I met up with my old vocal coach, Cynthia. My dad asked me to play a song with him and that was terrifying and weird. He asked me an absolutely crazy request, which was to learn a song to sing. That’s when I got a song from my sister. She got me the sheet music for it. I sat down for eight to ten hours, didn’t even get up to pee with a guitar tuner. I sang through every note of the song. Anytime I made a mistake I started the whole song over again. By the time my dad got home from work, I had finished through the whole song once. We sat down, I sang it and I had done it accurately to him. I didn’t really believe him because he’s not a voice coach. He’s my dad, he’s biased. We recorded it on a little home recorder. I sent it to my vocal coach. She asked me to start doing voice lessons again. She said, “You should sing a song at this open mic night at Jay’s Bistro.” I said yes and I have no idea why I said yes. As it came out of my mouth, I regretted it instantly.

Is this in Colorado?

Yes. It’s in Fort Collins. It was horrifying. I sang My Funny Valentine. I had my little recorder and I sang my first note. Mark was playing the piano there. Soon, I was playing every week and then doing my own concerts there, then singing for three hours and then doing my own concerts around the country. Then I made my first album, then my second, then my third. Now, I am a full-time musician. I have a touring band. They all are from Tampa, Saint Pete area down here. I have a fourth album of all original music that I’m looking forward to releasing this year. It was like I put my foot into a river and got lost as it went down. Every step has just been woosh.

This whole thing about actions create reactions and without putting yourself out there, none of this would have ever been possible. Now, you’ve got tremendous amount of possibilities. I want to talk to you about the whole process. America’s Got Talent, how do you do that? I’m just a closet guy musician. I don’t go out there and play and put myself out there like that. How do you go through the process? How did they invite you to be on the show? What was that audition like?

[Tweet “My life is different. It doesn’t mean that it’s not beautiful. “]

You go and you audition. You make a decision to show up. They’ve got a bunch of different places that you can go. You can go to Atlanta. You can go to New York. You can go to Orlando. There are a lot of different areas and places that you can go to do your initial audition. If you pass in front of producers, if you’re good enough for the producers, then they send you to sing in front of the judges for the first time. It’s filmed, it’s taped because they have so many acts that they have to put it all into one episode and then they spread it through. I was flown to LA to sing in front of the judges for the first time. I was the first night of filming. The filming was delayed because Mel B’s dad died. I was almost cancelled on and had to comeback. We were delayed a couple of days, but I was the first day of filming. They had tested all of the red Xs right before my sound check and then they tested them right before I walked out on stage. I was feeling real confident.

Which means when there’s a series of Xs then you’re off, your journey is done, right?

Yeah. I was the second act to perform in total. Simon had said, “I am not giving my golden buzzer out this time.” I walked out on stage and sang Try. He gave me a golden buzzer. He basically reneged really quickly.

What is the golden buzzer?

Here’s a funny tidbit. I had never seen the show before. At the time, I didn’t really know. It turns out what it means is you skip the judges’ cuts rounds and you go straight to the live shows. You skip a couple of rounds so that you don’t have to be booted off the show until America starts voting. The judges are not responsible for your untimely demise. I went straight to the live show.

I’ve got to tell you that in my research of all these, I watched that audition tape. You sang the most beautiful song called Try. This is a song that you created?

Yeah. I only sing original songs on the show. Try was a song that was actually inspired because of No Barriers and a conversation I had with Erik Weihenmayer to be honest.

I was watching this seven-minute clip. It starts off where Simon was asking, “Mandy, tell us about yourself.” Then you’re given the clip, two-minute thing on your disability and the song you’re going to sing. You’re up there with the ukulele, you get into it. Then you can just see the audience, they love what you’re doing that the judges were clearly moved. As I’m listening to your songs and the lyrics of this about possibilities and being down and the gray skies and blue skies, I was well and up. It was very touching. It was very moving. When he stood up and went over and hit the golden buzzer and all the confetti and everything was hitting the stage, it was just an amazing moment.

I filmed that in March and it released June 6 on D-Day. I had to keep it a secret for two, three months. I kept thinking because it was such an astronomically crazy moment that it must be fake, like it must be in my dream. I kept a piece of gold confetti in my wallet to remind myself that it actually did happen. It was just so bizarre to me that it even transpired. I had to keep a piece of it to remind myself on a daily basis that this is really happening. It was crazy. I was going to go in with an understanding that they’d only let five people sing their own songs on the show in its entirety. They were allowing me to sing a song that I wrote. To me, if I was going to go home and get buzzed off, I was going to sing the song that started it all. For me that was Try. I wrote that song because Erik asked me why I wasn’t writing music and why I wasn’t sharing my stories and talking to people honestly about my disabilities and why I was afraid?

I love what you were just talking about that you picked up a piece of confetti and you put it in your pocket, on your purse. You wanted to carry that around as a reminder. I have this necklace that has something that says, “Believe.” I wear this necklace everyday around my neck just to hold on to the things that I’m very passionate about and that I want my dreams to come true, making sure that I never forget who I am, where I’m at and where I want to go. I can very much identify what you’re talking about. Is there any chance I could get you to play that beautiful song Try?

Of course, I have my uke. I always have it. This is a fun tune to play.

“I don’t feel the way I used to
The sky is grey much more than it is blue
But I know one day I’ll get through
And I’ll take my place again

If I would try
If I would try

I don’t love the way I need to
You need more and I know that much is true
So I’ll fight for our breakthrough
And I’ll breathe in you again

If I would try
If I would try

There is no one for me to blame
Because I know the only thing in my way
Is me

I don’t live the way I want to
That whole picture never came into view
And I’m tired of getting used to
The day

So I will try
So I will try
If I would try
If I will try.”

“The only thing in the way is me.” That applies to so many people. It’s a beautiful, beautiful song and you’ve got a beautiful voice. It was amazing. You take fourth place. You go through this whole craziness in this process of elimination. One by one, you’re still standing. Then you make it down to the top five.

FYS 034 | Deaf Singer

Deaf Singer: It’s an incredible feeling to have your entire career be based off of making people smile.

It was crazy because at the start of the live shows I actually got pneumonia. From the live shows, semi-finals and the finals I was in and out of doctor’s offices in the hospital. I was just glad that I was coming out. I was so incredibly sick. The fact that I’m not even sure how I did the semi-finals because I was so sick. Making it all the way to the finals was absolutely unbelievable. The encouragement and the letters and the email from the messages of people who were touched by the songs that I was singing and who felt like they were encouraged and given a little bit of hope in a seemingly very dark world right now, made me really confident to say that I made the right decision to go past my comfort zone and to not allow fear to hold onto me, to push other people. That was my goal from the beginning. I didn’t care if I made it to finals. I didn’t care if I made it to the semi-finals. I didn’t care of anything. I just wanted to encourage people. Every step along the way I got to live that. It’s an incredible feeling to have your entire career be based off of making people smile.

Certainly, it’s this whole notion of it’s about the journey not the destination. I made it to NFL, I made it to major college. I’ve done some of these major mountains. I’ve started businesses and that’s great. It’s all the little things. My joy comes in to all the preparations and all these experiences I had with those people in getting to those certain places. What does this mean for you now? You emerged out of this. Obviously, you’re a star. Goes from nobody, relatively speaking, knew who you were. You go on a show like that. You’ve got worldwide views now. What has that done for your life?

It just reaffirms that I’m doing what I was supposed to be doing. It’s really shifted my direction a bit. I have a fourth album that I’m excited to release. I want to work more with changing how things are done a little bit, even just concerts in festivals to make them more inclusive. I want to work more with people with disabilities and to further education about encouraging people to learn ASL. To understand that deaf can and to change the idea of what disability looks like. Everybody is different, so many people have invisible disabilities. Because it’s not so easy to explain just because you’re looking at a picture, we don’t talk about it. It’s ridiculous. One of the things that I find also ridiculous is 95% of the parts being played in the media of somebody with disabilities is played by someone without disabilities. That’s ridiculous because we’re afraid or ashamed of some reason of allowing people who have these actual disabilities to portray what it really looks like. That needs to change.

I don’t see it. It’s probably the right word called disability. For sure in your case, it’s an ability. You have not been slowed down from anything. Your star is shining much brighter than many people with no issues. It’s almost been a blessing for you that you’ve had to go through this. God has a plan for all of us. In your case, the plan was you’ve lost your hearing and because you lost your hearing it enabled you to do other things and get stronger than ever and now look at where you are, and the messages that you’re spreading to all these different people that are looking to climb out of their well, they’re at the bottom.

FYS 034 | Deaf Singer

Deaf Singer: 95% of the parts being played in the media of somebody with disabilities is played by someone without disabilities.

I think that this world is a very broken place and that you deal with struggle. You have free will and genetics and all these things that are messy. You can allow it to consume everything or you can say that I’m going to take this as an opportunity to better myself and to grow and to learn. I feel like this whole experience, if it’s done nothing it’s made me a lot more empathetic towards other people. It’s made me a lot more aware of my surroundings about how to overcome, how to encourage but also how to love people more. I wouldn’t trade any of the things that have happened for that information. I feel like I’m a much better person having hit the bottom and struggled step by step. To be fair, I’m sure that I’m going to lose my footing and fall and smack the floor again at some point in time, but it’s something that I know that I can survive. I will get better and I will be stronger.

I’m much older than you are and I can tell you that all these experiences, very positive and some negative have all put me in a position today. I think to have number one, this podcast but to give me better insights on being able to relate to different people with different struggles that they’ve gone through. It’s just struggles or it can be a very positive thing, if you look at them in the right way. A couple of few more questions here. One of my all-time great country stars that I love listening to is Shania Twain. You’ve got to go on America’s Got Talent and you two did a duet. What was that like meeting her and doing that with somebody that’s so huge in the industry?

She is so incredibly nice. She’s dealt with her own struggles with Lyme disease and losing her voice and all the things like that. It was interesting for us to meet each other because we’ve both stepped the bottom. We really related to that pretty quickly. We just had fun with it. It was so quick. You practice a song and then you’re singing it in front of fourteen million people was quite insane. She’s a lovely person with such a light to her.

Where can people find you?

They can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. My handle is @MandyHarvey or @MandyHarveyMusic. I’m here, there and everywhere. Even if they Google, they forget my name and they put deaf singer, they’ll find me. If they follow me, they’ll see all of my concerts or if you want all that information you can always go to MandyHarveyMusic.com for tour information, for music, for the store to buy past albums or to find all of my social medias right there. I hope that they come to some concerts because we have a lot of fun at concerts. I play a lot of songs; a lot of original material that’s not released yet. I typically feature some fantastic musicians. I hope that they can come and enjoy my world for a bit.

Thank you so much. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, you’ve absolutely made my life better by listening to you and your story and what you went through. It was an absolute joy to see you go through all that America’s Got Talent stuff and propel you to where you are today.

Thank you and same to you. I have done a lot of research on you and I think what you’re doing with the show and creating a positivity and giving things for people to really digest and think about to apply to their own lives is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for all the things that you do.

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