America’s Got Talent Finalist Speaks to Fine Arts Students


America’s Got Talent semi-finalist Mandy Harvey plays one of her orginal songs on the ukulele for fine arts students in the auditorium. Harvey lost her hearing when she was 19, but after ten years of practice and training she is performing again. Talon Photo Alex Nowak

Elle Weeks

Mandy Harvey was on her way to becoming a music educator when she lost her hearing at age 19. Instead of leaving behind her dream of pursuing music, however, she decided to start performing.

Harvey, former America’s Got Talent finalist, spoke with fine arts students as well as students with disabilities about her experience overcoming hearing loss to pursue her dream.

Harvey’s journey was full of trial and error as she struggled to relearn how to live her life, but she came to realize that failure was not something to fear, but rather something beautiful.

“Every day you have a chance to make a new dream,” she said during her talk on Jan. 5.

In order to continue singing and writing music, she had to develop a new tactic for learning exactly how. She taught herself to feel the tempo of a song using the ground or by putting her hand on a piano, and due to her previous experience in the choral field, she was able to find pitches using muscle memory.

Harvey’s song “This Time,” which she performed during her talk, detailed her encounter with a woman who shared a similar experience. The woman’s ankles were shattered as well as her dreams of dancing when she suffered a tragic accident.

But instead of taking her injuries in stride, like Harvey, she became bitter. The woman ended up homeless where she met Harvey and told her her story, inspiring her to write her song.

Her other song “Try” which she wrote for her America’s Got Talent performance, earned her Simon’s golden buzzer and led her to her spot in the finals.

But it wasn’t the honors Harvey received that affected students, it was her ability to push forward while her hearing loss attempted to push her back.

“Even though she lost her hearing only 10 years ago, she took that and made her story an inspiration to others instead of letting her disabilities hold her back in life,” senior Evan Laengrich said.

Harvey hopes that her story will encourage people of all ability levels to keep pursuing their goals no matter what obstacles are in their way.

“I wanted to encourage people. That was my goal. It wasn’t to sing, it wasn’t to get attention, it wasn’t to get people to care about me, it was to encourage people,” Harvey said.