*Fourth Blog Competition Winner* ‘Deaf Inspiration’ by Jo Pullen-Moore

The person who inspires me is @Fletch the Signsong performer.

 I heard Fletch share her story at an event and it was such an inspiration. She is one of the U.K’s leading Deaf Singsong performers. She was born 3 months premature and the nerves in her ears had not properly developed so she was born Deaf. She was 9 when she first heard a female voice, Celine Dion, singing and that was where her love for music began. At the start of her journey she experienced a lot of negativity from the Deaf community, some of which believe music is for the hearing world. Unfortunately there are some hearing people who don’t understand how a Deaf person can understand or enjoy music.

  

 I believe music is for everyone no matter what your hearing is like. You can hear it, feel it and with Fletch you can see it. Fletch brings it to a whole new level by interpreting the lyrics in a totally different way that goes beyond just words. She is so expressive that even my hearing friends who can’t sign can experience the emotions & meaning behind it .

 When I was younger I joined my mums signing class to do Christmas songs at the local shopping centre. That was the first time I saw how the visual language and the lyrics can bring deaf & hearing people together to enjoy the music. This was where my love for the language began.

 This stayed with me and years later I began studying BSL. It was during Level 4 that I was invited to join Fletch’s Choir by a class mate. I had never done anything like that before. I was very low at the time and the week I joined Fletch choose Sam Smith “The only one” I really enjoyed it but I did think if this music is the style she chooses I don’t know if my emotions could take it! Right at the end of the choir Fletch performed P!nk “Who Knew” I had never seen anything so beautiful. Her translation was incredible, I was literally holding in the tears. After that I had to join. Since then Fletch has done every sort of genre including musicals.

  

 The Choir started at the beginning of Lock-down when Fletch was asked if she would run a Signsong Choir. Initially this was only going to be for 6 week but it was so successful it is still running today over two years later. There are now over 100 members from all over the U.k.

 The Choir have attended a Black Tie ball for the last two years to perform & raise money for the charity Sophie and Chloe’s special ears fund. As the Choir is on Zoom this was a real highlight. Meeting other members & Fletch for the first time, then being able to all preform together, while raising money it was such an amazing experience.

The Charities aim is to:

-Raise Deaf awareness

-Enhance the sound acoustics in classrooms and school halls, for deaf children in mainstream school through specialist hearing equipment and materials.

-Provide resources and equipment to deaf children to support their emotional wellbeing.

 Last year was a difficult one. I went through a separation from my husband and my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I cancelled so many things in my life to be there for my mum but I continued with choir, it was my happy place. I was really struggling with the pressure of exams & it was so nice to go from working hard in class to enjoying the beauty of the language with music.

 Leading up to the summer last year Fletch began teaching some Ed Sheeran songs which the Choir loved. I had been invited to his concert, where Fletch was performing and I really didn’t want to go. I was exhausted and I had just had enough. Emotionally I was not doing well and putting on a happy face was the last thing I wanted to do. A friend from my BSL class, convinced me to go. On the way to Wembley we talked about the exams, class and how hard I had worked and really encouraged me. I was beginning to feel like maybe I could carry on. That maybe turned into a definitely during the concert. As I watched Fletch perform my passion for it came flooding back. I told a friend this is what I want to do, this is my future.

On one of the evening at Wembley there were 100 Deaf people jumping up and down loving every minute of it. The Choir members that went signed the words just like hearing people would sing them, it was fantastic. Fletch is the first Deaf performer to work with Performance Interpreters who make it possible for deaf people to enjoy concerts, festival, the theatre & so many other events. It takes a huge amount of skill to do the job. As Fletch cannot hear the dialogue in between songs she has her own hearing interpreter. We all watched as her interpreter signed the words to Fletch who then signed them back to the audience. During Ed Sheeran’s recent concert at The O2 he said “I’m not going to really stick to a set list…” this really put the pressure on but they all smashed it!

Fletch is an inspiration because she does not let the barriers, she faces as a deaf person, stop her from doing what she loves. She has not only been an amazing teacher who is patient and encouraging but she has also taught me about deaf culture.

I have not given up & that is thanks to Fletch & her incredible Choir. It really saved me when I was at my lowest, it truly brings me such joy. Since attending the concert I have a renewed love for BSL & a determination to keep going to achieve my goals. I want to perform like Fletch and show that music is for everyone!

– Jo Pullen-Moore

(Please note that this article was written by an external author and any views expressed do not represent Signature)

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