Evelyn Glennie, Percussionist

Evelyn Glennie makes a full-time living as a percussionist. According to her site, “Evelyn is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist.” And she’s been profoundly deaf since age 12.
Her site doesn’t say much about deafness — and that’s fabulous only because it shows she wants people to recognize her as a talented percussionist. She speaks so clearly that I recognized some words without reading her lips. Here’s a Wikipiedia entry on Glennie.
She published her Hearing Essay. which explains why her office rarely mentions deafness in any press releases or on her site with the exception of the essay.

I hope that the audience will be stimulated by what I have to say (through the language of music) and will therefore leave the concert hall feeling entertained. If the audience is instead only wondering how a deaf musician can play percussion then I have failed as a musician. For this reason my deafness is not mentioned in any of the information supplied by my office to the press or concert promoters. Unfortunately, my deafness makes good headlines. I have learnt from childhood that if I refuse to discuss my deafness with the media they will just make it up. The several hundred articles and reviews written about me every year add up to a total of many thousands, only a handful accurately describe my hearing impairment.


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    • A. Non on August 7, 2007 at 1:45 pm
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    She’s never been drawn on the signing or cultural thing at all. She is such an adept lip-reader and manages so well in a speaking environment she has little or no affiliation with the deaf/Deaf, she does her own thing and good luck to her. Too busy being creative to get embroiled in ‘How deaf are you ?” games…. Known for her musical expertise and innovation, I’d say she has cracked the deaf thing don’t you ? she has no need to mention it all…. anyone expecting her to join in the cultural/deaf debates are never going to get anything from her…

    • Jean Boutcher on August 7, 2007 at 2:10 pm
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    Evelyn Glennie has a sweet and pleasant personality. Albeit world-famous and being knighted as a dame, she has never been snobbish. People of all walks of life adore her. My hearing cousin and I, deaf, adore her, too. As coordinator of music program for the First International Deaf Way, I wrote a letter to her, inviting her to participate in my music program. I knew she would decline, but, much to my surprise and DELIGHT, she replied — in her longhand — and said she accepted my invitation! I was excited to the 9th cloud. My music professor was delighted, too. Two weeks later, I received a letter not from her but from her agent who regretfully said that she had already made an arrangement for Evelyn Glennie to play in Los Angeles. Had it not been for her agent, she would have participated in the Deaf Way! Not only is she, by nature, a very intelligent woman, but also she is basically is a humble person, not arrogant or phony like some you see on the Potomac.

    • IamMine on August 26, 2007 at 3:23 am
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    Wow, Jean! I’m SO incredibly jealous of you! At least she WROTE back to you!!!
    Hey, if you ever play again – I’d love to SEE you play! 😀
    I’m kicking myself for not paying attention closely when she came to New York to play and I missed the boat!
    Oh well….

  1. Evelyn Glennie is being celebrated in a documentary on Sky Arts called ‘Touch the Sound’ – there’s a clip of it on her MySpace page.

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