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Higher Education
‘America’s Got Talent’ finalist to share her perfect pitch, positivity at Bayou Theater
News Release
Friday, September 21, 2018

HOUSTON — Mandy Harvey has been musical all her life. She had seen shows like “America’s Got Talent” before, but didn’t have the confidence to audition. When she was offered the opportunity to try out for season 12 of NBC’s hit talent show, she finally did. She was the fourth-place finalist, and won a highly coveted Golden Buzzer from arguably one of the show’s most challenging judges, Simon Cowell. On Oct. 24, she’ll move her fans with her original pop and jazz songs at the Bayou Theater at University of Houston-Clear Lake.

“The audition was very scary,” Harvey said. “I was asked by the people closest to me what I wanted to do with my life, and I said I wanted to show people that it’s possible to succeed with a disability. They encouraged me to show it on a big stage like on ‘America’s Got Talent.’”

Profoundly hearing impaired since the age of 18, the now-30-year-old singer said that the no-holds-barred Cowell had been very sweet and supportive of her. “He was less sweet to others,” Harvey said. “But he gave me a lot of positive feedback even when the cameras weren’t rolling.” Getting the Golden Buzzer – an award each of the show’s judges bestows once per season and entitles the winner to advance immediately to the live rounds – was a “complete shock moment for me,” she said. “I had no expectations at all when I got on the show. I didn’t even know what the Golden Buzzer was at first.”

Harvey said her hearing loss was the result of a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She attended Colorado State University majoring in vocal music education. When she finally lost almost all her hearing, she left the university.

“I have perfect pitch,” she said. “I have been involved in music since I was 4 years old. Now it’s about music theory, training my muscles, trusting the pitch and how it feels in my throat.”

Not being able to hear herself sing, Harvey said, “is the most freeing thing. I don’t judge myself.”

She explained that her polished, pitch-perfect performances have nothing to do with being able to hear. “This represents thousands and thousands of hours of practice and using creative techniques like holding a balloon to feel the frequency of the vibrations better. It’s amplified through my fingertips and helps with dynamics,” she said. “It’s how I know how loud I sing or talk in a room. I feel the pressure in my throat and create that feeling over and over again.”

Although it’s a lot of work, Harvey said, she loves it and it’s worth it. “People think if you’re disabled, you can’t be talented,” she said.

In order to get a real sense of how to sing in a room, Harvey said she has to feel the floor. It’s why she’s usually performing without shoes. “Whether a room has a concrete versus hardwood floor, tile versus carpeted, large or small, it translates differently on the floor,” she said. “I recalculate and gauge myself depending on the room.”

Harvey said she had many beautiful moments on “America’s Got Talent” and she continues to work to motivate people with disabilities to overcome obstacles. “The video package of me explaining the song ‘Release Me’ in sign language, without narrative or sound, was the longest period of silence in national network TV history,” she said. “It was about 40 seconds. It offers a different perspective of life in a beautiful, colorful way.”

She added that her audition video, “Try,” had 500 million views and triggered millions of conversations about the capabilities of disabled people. “An enormous wave of positive attention to the potential of people with disabilities is my takeaway from ‘America’s Got Talent,’” she said.

To reserve your tickets to see Mandy Harvey, and for more information about the Bayou Theater’s 2018-19 season, visit www.uhcl.edu/bayou-theater.





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