Deaf singer-songwriter Mandy Harvey feels the beat, performs at Vilar on Nov. 7 | VailDaily.com

Deaf singer-songwriter Mandy Harvey feels the beat, performs at Vilar on Nov. 7

if life's a song, then Mandy Harvey is living a tune about hope.

At age 4, Harvey was singing in her church choir. By high school, she was named the top female vocalist at her school in Longmont. At Colorado State University, she was pursuing a degree in vocal music education.

Then, she lost her hearing due to a neurological disorder throughout the span of about nine months and was dropped from the music department, shattering her hopes and dreams of making a career out of her passion of music.

"I found myself lost," Harvey said. "I put my whole identity into being a music teacher, and when that dream died, I felt like I died. That's a scary business to be in."

“I’m aiming to try and change the world a little bit, to make it a little bit better. I don’t really perform much for myself

— I don’t get the benefit of enjoying the music and seeing it as it comes out. I just want to try and make somebody smile.”Mandy Harvey

Harvey battled through depression and picked herself up with the help of friends and family, and now she's doing something she never thought she'd be doing — performing on stage herself.

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She never wanted to be the center of attention and has a fear of standing in front of people, but she's spent countless hours since losing her hearing retraining herself, practicing scales and pitch using visual tuners and practicing songs again and again again before taking to the stage.

"I could figure out how to perform and sing a song again," she said, almost 10 years now after losing her hearing. "I found myself thinking, 'What's the worst that could happen?' My biggest fear already happened. Performing in front of people, it can't be that bad."

Harvey will close out the Underground Sound Series at the Vilar Performing Arts Center with her four-person band on Monday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $24.

FEELING THE BEAT

Despite being dealt an unfortunate hand, Harvey hasn't wavered in her abilities or charisma.

With a full band surrounding her on the stage, Harvey performs without her shoes on as a way to stay in tune with the group.

"You can feel the rhythm, so you stay in time and you can keep counting," she said. "You can feel (the band) build and get louder, and you can feel them quiet back down."

She said there's a lot of visual communication between the band — they will look at her when it's time to come back in after solos and use head nods to stay together musically.

So while Harvey can't hear what's going on around her, she can see it and feel it.

"I don't think my sense of smell really comes into play," she said of her senses while performing. "Working with four guys, I kind of hope that sense doesn't heighten too much."

CHANGING THE WORLD

Harvey has released three albums and is currently writing her first book, all while touring with musical performances and motivational speaking.

She's also a spokesperson for No Barriers USA and Invisible Disabilities Association, traveling the country to heighten awareness, break down barriers, challenge stereotypes and lead the charge toward a brighter future. At the Vilar, a portion of the sales from her CDs will be donated to No Barriers, a Colorado nonprofit helping people overcome personal barriers.

"I'm aiming to try and change the world a little bit, to make it a little bit better," Harvey said. "I don't really perform much for myself — I don't get the benefit of enjoying the music and seeing it as it comes out. I just want to try and make somebody smile."

And that's just what attendees of her show in Beaver Creek will walk away with.

The band includes a pianist, drummer, bassist and electric guitar, and Harvey plays the ukulele for a couple of songs. When she's not on the ukulele, she uses sign language while singing.

They'll be playing "lively jazz" with a mix of classics and original work. In between all of the dancing, laughing and clapping, Harvey talks a bit and explains some of the songs she's written.

"I hope that people leave motivated to pursue their own dreams," she said.

For Harvey, who briefly tried other jobs after losing her hearing, music is her passion, even if she can't hear her own work.

"I'm going to hold onto music as long as I can," she said. "One day if I wake up and I can't figure it out anymore, then I'll have to start over. I'm just taking it one day at a time and enjoying the ride."

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

If you go …

What: Mandy Harvey closes out Underground Sound Series.

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.

Cost: $24.

More information: For tickets, call 970-845-8497 or visit http://www.vilarpac.org.

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