Mandy Harvey: Musically Inclined

14 01 2012

Mandy Harvey, a jazz vocalist and songwriter from northern Colorado, was one of the feature articles in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Mandy at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI, host to HLAA’s Convention 2010. Mandy was the guest entertainer at Friday night’s Rumble event at the Museum.

Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of HLAA, interviewed Mandy for this issue of the magazine. Learn more about Mandy’s here and listen to her music and buy CDs here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mandy showed an early talent for singing, but also had infrequent periods of hearing loss. At age ten, her family moved to Colorado. Her vocal talent blossomed and she won numerous school awards, notably Top Female Vocalist of 2006 as a high school senior.

After high school, Mandy went to Colorado State University. During her first semester, Mandy noticed she had to move closer to hear recordings. Hearing aids helped at first. Six months later, she had no hearing left. Discouraged, Mandy returned home to take American Sign Language classes and pursue Elementary Education at a local community college.

Once she returned home Mandy decided that she would take a year off from singing, but continued to play the guitar with her father. One day, while searching the Internet, Mandy and her father discovered a song titled Come Home by One Republic. Mandy’s father suggested that she learn the lyrics. Mandy thought this would be impossible but she gave it her best effort, and to her surprise she was able to learn the lyrics. She realized then that she didn’t have to give up singing.

I met Mandy in 2010 in Milwaukee at the HLAA Convention where she sang at one of our events at the Harley-Davidson Museum. HLAA photographer Cindy Dyer photographed her at the Museum before her performance. We were pleased to catch up with her recently to ask her a few questions.

Tell me about your hearing loss.
My hearing loss is due to neurological damage and the last it was tested showed it around 110 dB in both ears.

Do you use any type of assistive technology?
I had hearing aids when I was first losing my hearing, which was around winter 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Once my hearing loss progressed to a specific stage hearing aids didn’t help much. Because of the nerve damage, a cochlear implant was not an option for me. At this point I rely mostly on lip reading and American Sign Language.

Talk about your aspirations to become a music teacher.
I went to Colorado State University in the hopes of becoming a vocal jazz teacher. In all honesty I wouldn’t feel right about giving my professional opinion to students wanting to study voice. If I cannot hear them to give advice or to teach 100 percent, I would end up just getting frustrated and feeling as if I was wasting their money. Instead, I have turned my life to performing jazz as well as working in the medical field.

What about your personal life and family?
I currently live in Denver with my hearing service dog, Annie, and my love, Travis. My family is extremely supportive and they have learned some American Sign Language. My sister, Sammi, is fluent in the language now. It helps a lot to be able to communicate with your loved ones. Travis is currently learning the language for me.

Where is your singing career right now?
My singing career is in a beautiful place right now. As things stand I work a regular 8-5, Monday through Friday, job. The weekend is mine for performing. Having the regular job mixed with weekend work relieves the pressure of having to do a bunch of gigs just to be able to pay the bills. Instead I am able to do gigs that inspire me and that bring joy.

I have two albums, Smile and After You’ve Gone, which are both full of jazz standard, though the latter contains some original work by myself and Mark Sloniker. I am currently saving up to make a Christmas album this year.

Tell me something about yourself you would like people to know; something that would surprise people.
That’s a hard question. I used to be fascinated by insects and toads and non-girly things like that. When I was a child I wanted to travel the world and discover amazing finds on archeological digs.

You have a fascination with the 40s. How has this genre influenced you and your music?
I have been fascinated with the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s my entire life. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, and classic jazz. I love everything in those eras from the clothing to the inventions. It truly was a beautiful time in history…seems to have had lots of details that were not as obvious as things are today. Back then, there could be a song about someone’s smile and how it would capture the imagination. I feel music today has lost some of that mystery and has become far too blunt.

What are your favorite songs?
My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch Over Me, Come Fly with Me, Over the Rainbow, and of course, Smile…this list is never ending. I find passion in the music and it makes you feel something different every time you sing them.

What music don’t you care for?
I love most everything but I am not a huge fan of most Rap or R&B. I will admit I do enjoy a few songs here and there but in general they all tend to feel the same.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Thelonius Monk, Duke…oh my goodness, my list could go on and on. They are brilliant and the work they have done inspires me every time I think of them.

What one place in the world would you like to visit?
I have always had a dream to live in Scotland. The country has always called my name. My goal is in the next 10 years to have been there for at least three months continuously. If you are there for only a week you cannot understand the culture.

To find some of her recordings, go to YouTube.com and search for Mandy Harvey. You will find several videos, including her rendition of Smile.

Barbara Kelley is deputy executive director and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





HLAA member Ettalois (Lois) Johnson

2 05 2010

The May/June 2010 Hearing Loss Magazine (which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America) features Ettalois (Lois) Johnson, an HLAA member. Lois began her career as a public librarian then went back to school to get her master’s degree in Library Science from Sam Houston State University in Texas. While in graduate school, she decided to become a school librarian. She has served as secretary, co-president, vice-president and committee volunteer for her local HLAA Chapter in Houston. In 2000 she became the first state director of the newly-formed Texas State Office. She is now the Texas state director of the organization. I met and photographed Lois in Nashville last year at HLAA’s annual convention.

Excerpt from A Journey Into the World of Hearing Loss:

Lois Johnson is a native New Yorker born and raised in the South Bronx and has lived in Huntsville, Alabama, and Wiesbaden, Germany. She has lived in Texas for the past 28 years, raising a family, furthering her education, and learning how to live with hearing loss, and in turn, helping others do the same. 

For the past 20 years, Lois has suffered from Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance to varying degrees. It is characterized by episodes of dizziness and tinnitus and progressive hearing loss, usually in one ear. It is named after the French physician Prosper Ménière, who first reported that vertigo was caused by inner ear disorders in an article published in 1861. The condition affects people differently; it can range in intensity from being a mild annoyance to a chronic, lifelong disability. 

Lois is soft-spoken, but don’t let that fool you. She is the epitome of the expression “still waters run deep.” She is a stalwart in Texas, working on behalf of people with hearing loss. However, when asked how she has survived hearing loss, a heart attack, and a hurricane, she says, “I have three wonderful kids (and two grandkids) who have been such a great help to me in this past year and a half—and have been very supportive during my journey into the world of hearing loss.”

This issue also features an article titled, Hurricanes and Hearing Loss: Surviving the Storm, by Lise Hamlin, HLAA’s Director of Public Policy. The article chronicles Lois Johnson’s harrowing experience when Hurricane Ike hit Houston in 2008. Her home was badly damaged during the storm. Hamlin’s article offers tips for emergency preparedness and is followed by an article titled, FEMA’s Are You Ready? Guide on Hurricanes. This document can also be found on FEMA’s website here.

HLAA’s Convention 2010 is June 17-20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
Milwaukee is more than just the beer capital of the country, it is a beautiful city along the shores of Lake Michigan filled with amazing architecture, parks, museums, shopping, world-class restaurants, and of course breweries. But it’s the people there—the Midwestern friendliness abounds among people whose ancestors came from Germany, Ireland, Poland and many other countries. According to one HLAA member, the convention is a “transforming experience,” so come to Convention 2010 and be inspired! Learn more about Convention 2010 on HLAA’s convention page here.