VPAC Scoop column: Hearing loss won’t keep singer from chasing her dreams
November 2, 2016
Editor's note: From time to time, members of the Vilar Performing Arts Center community will provide insights into upcoming art, music, comedy and dance performances at the 535-seat theater in Beaver Creek Village. This week, the Vilar Performing Art Center's Kim Hannold previews the Monday, Nov. 7, Mandy Harvey show.
Mandy Harvey might just be one of the most unique musical performers to grace the Vilar Performing Arts Center stage when she performs on Monday at 7:30 p.m. as part of our Underground Sound Series. It's not her sultry jazz voice that makes her unique — as a matter of fact, her sound nostalgically harkens back to the golden age of jazz standards and growling blues. The thing that makes Harvey exceptional is that she sounds so fantastic while being a deaf American.
Harvey lost her residual hearing in 2006-07, at age 18, due to a neurological disorder and was forced to give up her pursuit of a vocal music education degree at Colorado State University. It was this experience that helped cultivate her message: hope, dream, believe — no matter what.
In 2008, Harvey returned to music performance and became a regular performer at Jay's Bistro in Fort Collins and the Dazzle Jazz Lounge in Denver. Soon thereafter, the crooner beat the odds to be featured on CNN's "Great Big Story," which quickly became a viral sensation, as well as profiled on "NBC Nightly News." She was even signed to be part of Burt's Bees' Remarkable Women campaign.
Despite the profundity of her hearing loss, Harvey continues to find the joy in the music.
"Harvey has not heard any of it," writes the Los Angeles Times, "not the applause, not the talent of the musicians who shared the stage, not her own incredible voice."
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As a heroine and spokesperson for No Barriers USA and the Invisible Disabilities Association, she's changing minds with her words, but as a pitch-perfect songstress, she's changing hearts with her message of hope.
During the VPAC's Underground Series, we encourage everyone to get out and discover new sounds and musical acts. This show will certainly be one that audiences of all walks of life will revere and appreciate. Although it's hard to compare her unique sound, we'd rank her up there with the likes of Norah Jones.
Kim Hannold is the manager of artist and community relations at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.