Deaf parents tune in to son’s voice

Singer finds a way to be heard

  • Tuesday, March 18, 2008 11:32am
  • News

By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

Ross Sharp, 36, will never forget the day he made his mother cry.

It was 20 years ago, and Sharp was a choir student in high school.

Always supportive, Richard and Karen Sharp attended their son’s Christmas concert at school, despite the fact that both were deaf and unable to hear the music.

After Sharp performed, another member of the audience told Karen Sharp that her son was an outstanding singer.

On the way home, with tears streaming down her face, Karen placed her hand on her son’s throat and asked him to sing. She wanted to feel the music.

Sharp’s throat vibrated as if he were talking loudly, Karen said the other day through an interpreter. But she knew the sounds coming out were beautiful. That’s what everyone who could hear told her.

Years later, Sharp still looks fondly back on that car ride home. It is one of the moments that defines his singing today.

“That connection, that beautiful moment made me want to do more of it,” he said.

Growing up with deaf parents taught Sharp a level of persistence, he said. It also taught him that music can be heard with more than a person’s ears.

“When you lose a sense, they say your other senses pick up,” he said.

Karen can hear music through the vibrations. Her senses are so attuned, she can feel the shifts in the house when her husband is walking around in the other room.

With music, she can sense the beat of the song well enough to dance. She can tell if it’s a two-step, four-step or waltz.

“My mother would always say ‘Turn it up so I can feel it,’” Sharp said of listening to music with his family growing up.

When Sharp sings in the car, his mother bops her head back and forth to the sound.

“I could suck and they don’t know it, but everybody keeps telling them their son sings great,” Sharp said.

Now Sharp hopes to build a career singing country music. He dreams of someday performing on a huge stage with giant amplified speakers and stage lights. He dreams of starring in a performance vivid enough for his parents to see and feel.

Sharp tried to get a spot on the USA Network talent search “Nashville Star,” but things didn’t work out. Now he’s got another plan. A friend promised to financially support Sharp in producing a record if he could sell 1,000 demo CDs. The CDs are available at a handful of local businesses.

Whether or not Sharp ever makes it to the big stage, his parents plan on someday hearing him sing. A deeply religious couple, Richard and Karen know they will one day hear their son sing in heaven.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Hear it now

To purchase a three-song demo copy of Sharp’s music, visit the MeMe and Company Salon or the D&R Espresso in Federal Way. To listen online, visit www.myspace.com/rosssharp.

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