Deaf, loud and proud: percussion group ExtraOrdinary Horizons

This story is brought to you by Our Better World, an initiative of the Singapore International Foundation – sharing stories to inspire good.

By Joshua Lye

“I’m losing my hearing more and more.”

That took me by surprise.

The first time I had a chat with social entrepreneur Lily Goh, I found out she had a profound-severe degree of deafness.

She has been deaf since she was two, and she’s “getting worse”, the 33-year-old told me through a mixture of notepad scribbling, sign language and speaking, in my first proper conversation with a deaf person.

What surprised me more than the idea that deaf people could get more deaf, was that Lily has no self-pity, no bitterness. Instead, I saw a determination to help others who are deaf.

Helping others

The Singaporean talked about raising awareness of deaf culture. She spoke about helping deaf children in Cambodia by introducing them to music, and giving them access to something that gives her great joy.

Did I mention Lily and her deaf friends, who call themselves ExtraOrdinary Horizons, play some serious percussion?

That surprised me too: deaf people making music.

I was to be surprised many more times in the weeks of getting to know some of the members of the group, hanging out with them and filming their practice sessions and performances.

Regular but extraordinary

They’re regular people, with familiar pleasures like travelling, playing football or basketball, baking, reading and spending time with friends. In getting to know them, speaking through my “broken” sign language and just being in their presence, I soaked up their energy.

They are so vibrant, so full of joy.

But they also have fears and frustrations, and these, too, are not uncommon: conflict within families, arguments with friends, break-ups, difficulties at school or work.

They aspire to be actors and performing artists, to be good at their jobs and to be awesome friends. Surprisingly ordinary?

Truth be told, I was fully expecting ordinary – even out-of-sync – drumming at the first music practice I attended. So much for being open-minded.

What I saw was extraordinary precision, coordination and tenacity. Most of all, they blew me away with their deep love of and commitment to music.

So inspiring were they that indie band Black Forest not only wrote them a song, but teamed up with them in a music video too.

I’m pretty sure it will blow you away.
 
ExtraOrdinary Horizons is crowd-funding on Indiegogo so they can take their music to deaf children in Cambodia. Find out how you can get involved.

You can also learn more about deaf culture or take up a sign language course with the group. Find out how.

Thanks to Sky Ong, Renny Goh, Edric Hwang, Lalith Vummiti and August Lum for their involvement in producing We’re Gonna Sing Tonight.

Buy the song. All proceeds will go towards the deaf children and EO Horizons' trip to Cambodia.

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