Feb 2018 Kitsap Sun
It's a lot of work being Mandy Harvey. The singer-songwriter, who turned 30 Jan. 2, became a national sensation for her performances on the 2017 "America's Got Talent" TV competition. She has been deaf since she was 18, following a childhood of hearing problems, surgeries and degeneration that came to a head just as she was starting her college career as a music major at Colorado State University. That hasn't stopped her from singing her way to stardom. She can't hear herself sing, but millions of others can and have. And they've been moved.
That's where the work comes in. "I work on music and singing and pronouncing words 40 to 70 hours a week, every week, and have for 10 years. So I put in a crap-ton of work. Happily, but it's a ton of labor. There's a lot of muscle memory that's involved in the actual forming of words and singing them. I use a lot of visual tuners. I do a lot of speech therapy. There's many different tools and pieces and parts that create everything as it works together”.
That work has enabled Harvey to realise a career she once couldn't have imagined. Growing up, stage fright prevented her from any kind of solo performance (she did sing in choirs), and the hearing loss only sealed the deal in her mind. Instead of closing a door on music, though, Harvey's hearing loss opened it. She started playing guitar and singing with her father, Joe, at his behest, and realised she could still do the thing she loved.
Mandy Harvey grabbed the nation's attention with her fourth-place finish in the 2017 edition of "America's Got Talent."
"I expected it to be total crap," she said, "I ended up being accurate with my notes. That kind of was a door open for me.” As for the stage fright? After losing her hearing, she developed a slogan that pushed it into the background: "What's the worst that could happen? I thought losing my hearing was going to destroy the very core of who I was. And I'm still standing. And not only standing; I'm a better person for it. I love people more. I pay more attention. I've grown stronger."
What she feared as a weakness, she has turned into a strength. Hundreds of concerts, four pop and jazz-flavored CDs and the breakout performance on "AGT" (she finished fourth) are proof of that.
While stage fright is no longer an issue, Harvey might still get cold feet on stage. Literally. As one concession to her hearing loss, she performs barefoot. It helps her feel the things she cannot hear.
"You can feel the drums, you can feel the bass. So, being able to feel the music through the floor, it makes me feel like I'm part of the band, and not just the only person in the room who doesn't really understand what's going on.”