This deaf woman may not be able to hear herself - but her singing is inspiring

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Kayleigh Dray
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For the past decade, Mandy Harvey has been unable to hear anything.

Appearing on America’s Got Talent, the 29-year-old explained that she had battled gradual hearing loss for most of her life – but, when she turned 18, she became completely deaf.

For a woman who had forever dreamed of becoming a singer, it was absolutely heart-breaking. Harvey, however, refused to let her hearing loss dictate her future.

Relying on muscle memory, she used visual tuners to help her recapture her singing skills, which means that she has to take her shoes off when she performs, in order to better feel the vibrations.

“I feel the tempo,” Harvey revealed, “and the beat through the floor.”

Most importantly of all, Harvey had to learn to trust in her own abilities – especially when it came to stepping up on the America’s Got Talent stage and performing in front of Simon Cowell, a panel of judges, a studio audience and thousands of viewers watching on their televisions at home.

“I’m gonna sing a song that I wrote myself,” she told them all, her hands signing her words. “After I lost my hearing, I gave up […] but I want to do more with my life than just give up.”

Cue an absolutely mesmerizing rendition of her own song, aptly titled Try:

“There is no one for me to blame,” sang Harvey, pitching her voice perfectly alongside the accompaniment of her own instrument. “Because I know the only thing in my way is me.

“I don’t live the way I want to. That whole picture never came into view. But I’m tired of getting used to the day, so I will try.”

As the audience wiped away tears, they leapt to their feet in a standing ovation – and a visibly impressed Cowell reached forward and pressed his golden buzzer.

“That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen or heard,” he told Harvey, as the singer’s father rushed out from the wings to give his daughter a hug.

A video of her performance has since been shared on Facebook, racking up 513,000 likes, 42,000 comments and over half a million shares.

“I haven‘t cried out of pure joy in such a long time,” wrote one social media user. “She is beautiful, and my heart is happy.”

Another added: “I’ll never give up on anything again because of her. That was incredible.”

One avid viewer helpfully transcribed the lyrics of the song, which we’ve included below:

Try, by Mandy Harvey

I don't feel the way I used to.
The sky is much more grey than it is blue.
But one day I know I'll get through.
And I'll find my place again,
If I would try...If I would try.

There is no one for me to blame.
‘Cause I know the only thing in my me.
I don't live the way I want to.
That whole picture never came in to view.
But I'm tired of getting used to the day.
So I will try. So I will try.

While most were inspired by Harvey’s song, some criticised her for ‘coasting’ through auditions with a ‘sob story’.

Responding to these trolls, one Facebook user wrote: “Just imagine not being able to hear yourself sing. Having no clue what is coming out of your mouth. She studied and learned how to feel vibrations and tones and TRUSTS her own pitch.”

Another added: “Even if her voice wasn't absolutely beautiful (which it is), and her song wasn't also fantastic (which it was), how about all of you try singing while being deaf and managing to not only sound on key which would be hard enough, but projects beautiful and controlled voice?

“I'm not one for sob stories but this was talent.”

Images: America’s Got Talent


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.