Feel the Music with Mandy Harvey

Image: Mandy Harvey performs during the America’s Got Talent 2017 live finale. (Trae Patton/NBC)

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Feel the Music

One of my favorite movies is Dirty Dancing, not only for a young Patrick Swayze with his sizzling dance moves but for the litany of memorable movie quotes that, even taken out of context, deliver life’s most poignant lessons.

“The steps aren’t enough; feel the music.”

With such genius in our pop culture repertoire, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when Mandy Harvey took the stage for America’s Got Talent, Season 12, auditioning with a guitarist on one side and a keyboardist on the other and nothing on her feet. Sure, her shoes were on stage, but they were placed gently to the side. With a ukelele in hand, she sang a song called “Try”, sharing lyrics of “I don’t feel the way I used to” and “I’ll take my place again”. It would not take her long to win America’s heart.

feel the music
Image: Mandy Harvey on America’s Got Talent, 2017 (NBC.com)

What made the audition so extraordinary was not only that she sang a perfect pitch tune with such emotion but that she could not hear herself doing it.

Mandy Harvey is deaf.

Losing What You Love

Born with hearing, Mandy Harvey dreamed of being a musician. She started with singing competitions at 10 years old, and she eventually majored in vocal music education at Colorado State University.

Unfortunately, things would take a turn at 18 years old. What at first she presumed to be an ear infection was something far more insidious. A connective tissue disease took hold, progressively damaging her nerves until she could no longer hear.

On America’s Got Talent, she said, “When I lost my hearing, music died. I lost my way of communicating. And my parents were the ones who encouraged me to find music again.”

Using visual tuners, she taught herself to sing again and now performs barefoot so that she can feel music through floor vibrations. She told NPR, “You can feel the drums, and you can feel the bass. So, being able to feel the music through the floor, it makes me feel like I’m a part of the band”.

Mandy Harvey literally feels the music.

Finding What You Love

What this 29-year-old woman has done is beyond inspiring. She shows that you can achieve what your heart desires even when people tell you no, even when they assume you are not capable. Only you know what you can do. Only you set your limits.

As an ambassador to both No Barriers USA and the Invisible Disabilities Association, she supports other people who face challenges in their lives and continues to spread her message of hope.

“When Simon hit the Golden Buzzer for me (at the auditions), it just meant so much,” she said on America’s Got Talent. “He was looking at me as a musician and not just as that broken person. Everything is very different from my childhood picture of who I was going to become, and I’m really glad that it’s different.”

Mandy Harvey came in 4th place in the America’s Got Talent finale and earned every accolade. Her music is rich and full, beautiful and maningful. If you would like to hear more, visit her on Facebook at facebook.com/mandyharveymusic, and on her website at mandyharveymusic.com.