Mandy Harvey Lost Her Hearing — but Then Found Her Voice
“I didn’t realize that the journey I was about to dive into was actually going to be quite a beautiful one,” the singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE
It had already been the day from hell for Mandy Harvey.
The 18-year-old Colorado State University freshman had just left her music theory class after she realized she could no longer clearly hear the notes that were playing. She then received word that she would have to change her major due to her worsening condition. And then, as she walked through campus in a state of utter shock, a classmate riding a bicycle slid over a patch of ice and hit her, causing her to fall on the ground and crush her hearing aid. Granted, he had screamed for her to get out of the way — but she couldn’t hear him.
Suddenly, her world went silent.
“It was like everything changed color in that moment,” Harvey, now 33, tells PEOPLE in a revealing new interview. “All of the colors just went to black and white. It was the undeniable realization that my life was never going to be the same. I didn’t realize that the journey I was about to dive into was actually going to be quite a beautiful one. But at that moment, I thought it was the day my life was over.”
Officially diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Harvey went into a deep depression as she came to terms with the painful reality that nothing about her life would ever be the same again.
“I needed to relearn how to have basic conversations,” she remembers of those delicate days. “I had to relearn how to wake up in the morning with a vibrating alarm clock and how not to be afraid that people were coming up behind me and how I was going to live a life that was so very different now. The adjustment was not a gentle one for me. I was clawing, just trying to hang on to what I knew instead of embracing and moving forward with who I was now.”
But that was 14 years ago.
Today, Harvey has learned to turn the fact that she is profoundly deaf into just a small piece of who she is as a person. She has learned to use vibrations and visual tuners and touch to “hear” all that she needs to when it comes to her music, resulting in an almost unexplainable method of vocal delivery that feels like it could be coming from the heavens.
One of those heavenly pieces of music is her current single, “Masterpiece.”
“To be able to have a song that says that the messy, broken pieces of the shattered dreams I have left are valuable and I am valuable, and all of these experiences make me unique? Well, that’s worth celebrating.”
Indeed, there is much to celebrate in the life of Mandy Harvey. First gaining national exposure when she stunned the world with her poignant performance of her original song “Try” on America’s Got Talent back in 2017, Harvey has gone on to create a career that feeds off a positivity that transformed a “shy, awkward, socially disconnected” kid into a confident and beautiful woman. Not only is Harvey looking to share her enlightening message with the world through her music, but she is now firmly committed to serving as an advocate for the deaf and disabled community.
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“Most of my music is very personal,” says Harvey, whose “Masterpiece” music video features a laundry list of people who have fought off challenges of their own, including Marlee Matlin, Kyle Maynard and Erik Weihenmayer. “It’s about really specific stories of my life, so that other people know that wherever they are on that journey, if they feel like the way I felt in that moment, that they are not alone with that.”
And she believes the world needs this message now, more than ever.
“Just take the year of 2020,” Harvey begins. “People had dreams and goals and life plans that got delayed and changed, and even if you weren’t dealing with depression or illness, 2020 was an equalizer when it came to creating a world where none of us had control. In a way, everyone was feeling that their life wasn’t working out the way they thought it would. But I think we all realize now that we learned things from the process, and we have become stronger.”
But sometimes in that quest for strength, the pain remains. Harvey knows that.
“I had the blessing of so many people who held my hand through the trials and frustrations of my life,” she says. “So now, I want to give back. I want to be that person that will virtually hold your hand and help you get through the struggles you are going through and remind you that you are not alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel and remind you that you are frickin’ amazing just the way you are.”
Click HERE for an interview and entertainment program with Mandy Harvey at the LEAD EDS Educational Summit