No better place for education and art to come together than in Charleston, South Carolina. The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind Foundation, based in Spartanburg, presented award-winning singer/songwriter Mandy Harvey at the historic Charleston Music Hall. The Music Hall is one of the few community-based driven venues for acoustics, historic preservation, and guest service. Moreover, they have played host to countless benefits and dinners in addition to being the only movie theatre on the peninsula on Monday evenings.
We were treated to the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind Chorus, which is encompassed of students throughout the state. They wore handmade palmetto state sweatshirts in their favorite colors and broad smiles. Six of the students were at the center interpreting what was sung by their classmates behind them. The vocal passion was clear and awe-inspiring. They sung “Over the Rainbow" with Mandy Harvey and a few selections written internally. They shared their aspirations and love for the state of South Carolina through vocal harmony and sign language.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg graciously played emcee for the evening and even accompanied the students at the piano, a skill he’s well known for throughout the Low Country. Furthermore, the Mayor spoke about his brother, Michael, who was born without hearing which wasn’t detected until later in life. Despite this setback, Michael went on to graduate from USC and work in Washington D.C. serving in the judicial branch.
The world got to know the setbacks Mandy Harvey faced while she auditioned for America’s Got Talent two years ago. This former music teacher inspirere lost her hearing during her first year of college. Through the support of her family and attending ASL classes, she found a way to rediscover music through silence. She’s mastered the ability to feel the music through her “sole", the soles of her feet that is. The stage floor acts as an electric line from instruments’ vibrations to her senses. Remaining shoeless during her performance is not her only magicagal attribute. Her renditions of The Beatles, Adele, The Turtles and others invoke the same emotional chord as the original artists, proof that one doesn’t need eyes or ears to understand art. In fact, many of her renditions were better than the originals and left us breathless as she projectiled her spirit. Her voice is beyond comparison and is uniquely her own.
In addition to music Mandy serves as a motivational speaker and bravely shared with us her emotional journey. “Loosing my hearing became the best thing to happen to me. Not being able to hear my voice, I have nothing to compare it to or break myself down in pieces". This booms confidence of overcoming anxiety and self-doubt, which she’s quick to add “doesn’t happen overnight". We each have something that brings us back to a dark moment in time which for others brings joy. For Mandy to see a piano brought back the disappointments of having to dropout of college and leave her musical career behind. The words cannot were temporarily imprinted on every piano she saw. Now she makes an effort to perform one song on the piano for each performance.
Her expressionism could be felt; all the senses, the goosebumps, the things that make music magical, we, the audience, could feel them through her. She uses her voice as a double advocate for music and pursuing one’s passion. Her personality ignites fire and sparked tears of motivation. She left us with a sense of regaining our purpose, exposing ourselves to our fears, and dropping those invisible boundaries we place upon others as well as ourselves. The purity of her music and what she represents is and will continue to change the world we live in. She is not only the artist, but the humanitarian, that the world needs.