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Sign Language Interpreter Uses Skills At Phish, Wu-Tang Clan, Springsteen Concerts

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Deaf concertgoers can experience performances in a whole new way thanks to the signing skills of Holly Maniatty. Maniatty, a certified American Sign Language interpreter from Portland, Maine, is able to follow along with the lyrics of each artist’s music during a concert.

“Interpretation comes quickly and easily to me,” Maniatty, 32, told, of her ability to sign freestyle rap artists or jam bands fast-paced lyrics. “I have a knack for processing language quickly.”

In order to prep for each show and the different performance styles of each artist, Maniatty, who has been an interpreter for 13 years, does careful research.

“[I research] where they grew up, where they were born, what their background is, what political affiliations they have publicly – that’s important because it usually bleeds into their music,” Maniatty said. “I do research on each song.”

She not only researches the band and song, but she also watches as many taped performances of the artists as she can so she can understand how they move and embody each artist’s unique style while she signs.

“We’re being the performer as much as possible in the interpretation, so it’s as authentic as possible,” she said. “[I reflect] however they move their body or gesticulate.”

Maniatty has been an interpreter at the concerts of headlining artists such as Phish, Wu-Tang Clan and Bruce Springsteen.

“I strive to look at each artist and musician as their own person. It’s their life’s work,” she said. “I feel a strong commitment to render that in ASL as authentically as possible.”

Maniatty’s recent signing performance at a Wu-Tayng Clan concert went viral on YouTube and has gained her national attention, reports ABC News.

As Maniatty has gained popularity and her services become more widely known, larger deaf audiences have started coming out to enjoy the concerts.

 “I’m just really excited the word’s going to get out there,” she said.

Source: ABC News

Photo: John Ewing/The Portland Press Herald


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