Monday, February 22, 2010

Deaf rapper Sean Forbes to perform at Central Michigan University

From The Morning Sun:

A group of Central Michigan University students invited an internationally recognized deaf musician who "signs" popular music videos to the area.

Sean Forbes (pictured) will take the stage at Plachta Auditorium at CMU at 8 p.m. Feb. 23 to entertain "the deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing" audiences, according to promoters.

"Sean Forbes is actually deaf," said Kevin Cramer, American Sign Language instructor at CMU.

"He said 'I'm deaf, and I'm bringing music to deaf people. He's a deaf person who knows that feeling. I'm excited to see (his show)."

The students of the American Sign Language Society and their advisor Cramer are "very excited" to bring Forbes, founder of the Deaf Professional Artists Network (D-PAN), to campus.

Mallorie Ceisel, president of the student society, said she has grown a strong appreciation and a love of the "beautiful language" of American Sign.

"I didn't know there was a deaf culture or a deaf world," Ceisel said. "But when I started taking classes, I learned that it's not just English with your hands.

"It's grammar and rules."

Ceisel said Forbes will be presenting music in a way for people to see and feel the music.

"We're hoping this will bring awareness to the deaf culture," Ceisel said.

A YouTube music video created by D-PAN shows the multicultural and multi-racial diversity of the deaf culture to the song, "Waiting for the World to Change."

Cramer said that the English language has "moved from place to place," but sign languages is different.

"I was in Customs in England, and I saw these two people signing," Cramer said.

He said he tried to join in their conversation and introduce himself, but they could not understand each other.

"It's not based on spoken language," Cramer said.

The American Sign Language course is a two-year program at CMU, and by the second year students have some level of fluency.

"I've been signing for three years," Ceisel said. "I think American Sign Language is very theatrical, and I love deaf people. I love the culture. I had no idea it existed before I came here."

Ceisel said that she feels that deaf people are proud to be deaf, and "they can do everything hearing people can do - except hear."

Cramer said that during CMU's fall deaf awareness week, students get to experience "simulated" deafness.

"One of the questions I ask is 'if you lost your hearing, what would you miss most,'" Cramer said. "They say music."

Ceisel said that "D-PAN is a really fun way to attract students my age."