Mandy Harvey talks to Patch about her upcoming performance on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Kean University’s Enlow Recital Hall.
UNION, NJ — Deaf singer and songwriter Mandy Harvey, who appeared on “America’s Got Talent,” talked to Patch about her upcoming performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Kean University’s Enlow Recital Hall.
Harvey is best known for her performance on NBC’s America’s Got Talent in 2017 when she played the ukulele while singing her original song, “Try.” Judge Simon Cowell was so impressed, he pushed the “golden buzzer,” sending Harvey straight to the finals. Watch her performance here.
Her performance was especially unique since Harvey writes her own music and is deaf. At age 19, while studying vocal music at Colorado State University, Harvey lost her residual hearing due to a neurological disorder. She has since become a performer releasing three critically acclaimed albums and published a book, Sensing the Rhythm, which chronicles her journey and aims to inspire others to overcome their own barriers.
I started performing when I was part of choir at four years old. I had a huge love for music education. I had never anticipated or dreamed of being a performer because I wanted to do music education. I then went to Colorado State University where my goal was to become music professor for college. Within the first nine months I lost my hearing. I then had to start life over again. In the process I found a deeper appreciation for music and confidence and love for myself. And now I get to perform for a living.
How were you able to overcome the challenge of becoming deaf?
It was more of a community effort. Anytime we go through a huge significant life change they never do it by themselves. People are strongest when they are surrounded by a strong group or a community to lean on.
How was it to appear on “America’s Got Talent?”
That was a weird, crazy experience. Before I went on the show I talked my friend Erik Weihenmayer who was the first blind man to climb Mt. Everest. I told him I was terrified and scared about doing the show. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I wanted to encourage people… make people smile. He said, ‘So why not do something like this?’ I showed up and wasn’t expecting much and then Simon gave me the golden buzzer. The video of my performance took a life of its own. It was seen hundreds of millions of time.
What will you be performing at Kean University?
All of my music I did on AGT is mine and I will also perform some covers. I do covers but a lot is original songs. I had an album come out called ‘Nice To Meet You’ and it’s all original music. Of course, there will be some mixed in covers of my favorite songs. It will also be an ASL-friendly show with a full band and interpretation to create more of an inclusive show. It is very family-friendly. There will be no cursing or expletives, I just don’t do that naturally.
What do you think about how far your life has come since competing on AGT?
I don’t think I would have believed you if you said this was something I would’ve done with my life. My brain was so geared towards music education… but I think through performing I can spend my life meeting new people and making people smile.
Tickets are $45 to $65 and can be purchased at the Kean Stage Box Office in Wilkins Theatre, by phone at 908-737-7469 or online at www.keanstage.com. Enlow Recital Hall is located at 215 North Ave., Hillside on Kean University’s East Campus.
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