Watching Mandy Harvey perform, you would never guess that she was once afraid of the spotlight. Even though she’s been singing since she was small, performances used to make her nervous to the point of sickness. Now, the 29-year-old award-winning singer, songwriter and motivational speaker is much more comfortable in front of a crowd, even though she can’t hear herself speak or sing.
Just this year, she took to the America’s Got Talent stage to sing her song “Try” in an audition that earned her a “golden buzzer moment” to advance to the show’s Quarterfinals. In July, Mandy made a special visit to ProMedica Toledo and Toledo Children’s Hospitals to speak with members of the staff and visit pediatric patients. She shared stories of joy, loss, determination and connection.
At age 18, Mandy lost her residual hearing due to a connective tissue disorder. She left her college Vocal Music Education program and her dream to be a music professor was shattered. In her words, she “lost herself”. But today, she finds herself in her love for people and her daily decision “to find something beautiful in a moment.”
For Mandy, who lost her hearing amidst a slew of leg surgeries after an injury, finding the beautiful didn’t always come easy. She remembered, “I was in a state of fatigue—an emotional fatigue—and I wanted to give up and nothing anybody could tell me was going to make it better. It has to be a personal choice.
The journey to healing came when she allowed herself to celebrate small victories. “Sometimes just breathing in and out is a struggle and the fact that you’re breathing in and out is a victory,” she said.
“I lost the ability to judge myself musically because I couldn’t hear myself singing anymore. When I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t judge myself, and so I sing out.”
Mandy says that her biggest barrier in life has been fear, but in losing her hearing, she has found a new sense of confidence. “I lost the ability to judge myself musically because I couldn’t hear myself singing anymore. When I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t judge myself, and so I sing out.” She’s not perfect–she’s started songs in the wrong key and has forgotten words or songs entirely—but she’s comfortable with the imperfections that come with being human. “I have failed in so many ways performing that it’s old hat now,” she said. “It’s a nerve-wracking experience if you are demanding perfection of yourself.”
Now, she encourages others to embrace their fears, analyze them and ask themselves if the fear is holding them back. Having the right support network helps, too. Mandy’s family, friends and fans play a role in her future. “I surround myself with people who push me, who inspire me on a daily basis,” said Mandy. “That passion to drive forward is infectious.”
These connections have reinforced that singing isn’t Mandy’s only passion. “I have a love for people,” she said. She sings for VA clinics, hospice, retirement communities and hospitals, and admitted, “I want to make a concerted effort to visit more hospitals and more people.”
“I’m excited about connecting with people, being able to be an encouragement to others. I don’t sing for myself, I sing for other people,” she said. “I want to go through my life and use as many gifts as I have in as many ways as I can”