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State Theatre New Jersey

Sightlines

Mandy Harvey Inspires during National Disabilities Awareness Month

On Monday, October 22, State Theatre was delighted to present a free performance by Mandy Harvey—in her only New Jersey appearance—as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Did you know that more than 70% of disabilities are invisible? That statistic caused us to pause and reflect.

Mandy Harvey is a deaf American singer-songwriter who defied the odds to become an award-winning singer and songwriter. A vocal music education major at Colorado State University, Mandy lost her residual hearing at the age of 18 due to a connective tissue disorder and left the program. She pursued several career options, including education, but returned to music in 2008. Despite her invisible disability, Mandy’s love of music and her determination led her to a successful career. Many of our patrons have recognized her from her appearance as a “Golden Buzzer” finalist on America’s Got Talent.

Diversity and inclusion are a core element of State Theatre New Jersey's values; we believe that the arts are for everyone and that they bring us together as a community. Before performing to a packed house at State Theatre, Mandy shared her music and her story of never giving up and continuing to try in character-building workshops with 900 students at Lawrence Intermediate School. 

In her concert, though Mandy’s hearing loss is profound, we heard first-hand how her timing, pitch, and passion are perfect. Backed by a strong quartet of musicians, she sang songs she’s become known for—including her original “Release Me.” She continues to challenge herself, whether skydiving or accompanying herself onstage on the piano for one song! Her inspirational words and courage are matched by her witty sense of humor.

Artists like Mandy Harvey are perfect examples of our fundamental commitment to serving our community by bringing together people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities into our beautiful historic venue. Her message is universal…Hope, Dream, Believe, no matter what obstacles one encounters!

Partners make it possible

Listen to our “All Access with State Theatre New Jersey” radio show interviewing sponsors about our shared commitment to diversity and the importance of partnering during National Disability Employment Awareness Month! Mandy Harvey’s free performance and school visit were made possible by the generous support of four very special partners: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Accenture, Rangam Consultants Inc., and KPMG.

“At Bristol-Myers Squibb, we have an inclusive culture that drives business performance. Our employees are our competitive advantage—they help to shape our culture where unique perspectives are encouraged. DAWN, or the Differently-Abled Workplace Network, is our group that supports a work environment where colleagues with disabilities are valued and respected. We’re committed to creating awareness and understanding of the importance of including those who may be different from us,” said Paul Ashley, Director of Strategic Engagement, Global Procurement for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Nedra Dickson, Global Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability Lead from Accenture, emphasized how the company’s commitment to inclusivity extends to working with partners like BMS to staff people with disabilities—including bringing people on the autism spectrum into the workplace.

State Theatre New Jersey was honored to partner with these companies that share our values, and who understand that presenting inspirational artists like Mandy Harvey is essential to building community. If you are interested in hearing more of Mandy’s story, visit her website and take a look at her CDs and her book, Sensing the Rhythm: Finding My Voice in a World Without Sound.

 

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