12 Times ASL Interpreters Stole the Show at a Festival

Article by: emily ward|@_drawylime

Wed June 20, 2018 | 13:47 PM

No two people ever have the same musical experience; for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, that chasm is even deeper. American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters have appeared in front of festival stages for years, and with videos of them in action now spreading around the web, the appreciation for what they do now extends far beyond the deaf community. Organizations like Everyone's Invited LotuSIGN and Accessible Festivals pour a lot of behind-the-scenes care into ensuring the full festival musical experience is extended to the deaf community, and Chance the Rapper hosted ASL interpreters on his entire 2017 summer tour (including festival stops like Lollapalooza).

The lively signers below all deliver emotive performances, capturing not just lyrics but the depth of meaning behind an artist's music for the deaf fans in the crowd to identify with. Ultimately, these interpreters give the deaf and hard-of-hearing a similar musical experience that those with full hearing capabilities enjoy.

Check these amazing interpreters in action! If you know the names of any interpreters to credit, please let us know.

Eminem at Firefly Music Festival, Dover, Delaware (2018)

All-star interpreter Holly Maniatty is at it again, this time signing Eminem's set at Firefly Music Festival in June 2018, notably catching the audience's attention during "Rap God."

Red Hot Chili Peppers at Lollapalooza, Chicago, Illinois (2016)

Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis brings Amber Galloway Gallego on stage after noticing her version of the band's hit single "Under the Bridge" at Lollapalooza 2016.

Waka Flocka Flame at Firefly Music Festival, Dover, Delaware (2017)

For hit song "Hard in Da Paint," Waka Flocka was clearly intrigued with ASL interpreter Holly Maniatty; after watching her for several moments, he hopped down and joined her on the platform, dancing along to finish out the song.

Alt-J at Glastonbury, Somerset, UK (2017)

This interpreter went above and beyond to drive home indie rock band Alt-J's spirited 2017 Glastonbury headline set.

Kendrick Lamar at Lollapalooza, Chicago, Illinois (2013)

Popular festival ASL interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego signs Kendrick Lamar's cover of A$AP Rocky's "Fuckin' Problems" at Lollapalooza 2013.

Ryan Adams at Coachella, Indio, California (2015)

This soulful interpreter signs Ryan Adams's hit single, "Oh My Sweet Carolina," with help from an aide below her platform. 

Florence + the Machine, BottleRock Napa, Napa, California (2016)

Interpreter Sara Graves speaks Florence & the Machine's visual language for "What Kind of Man" at California's BottleRock Napa 2016.

Big Freedia at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana (2016)

Another animated display from Amber Galloway Gallego, this time in the twerk zone for Big Freedia at JazzFest 2016.

Gareth Emery at TomorrowWorld, Fairburn, Georgia (2014)

In a touching display of friendship, a young woman signs the lyrics to Gareth Emery's "U" to her friend at TomorrowWorld 2014.

Meghan Trainor at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana (2016)

This interpreter's facial expressions and movements at JazzFest 2016 were the perfect complement to Meghan Trainor's upbeat pop.

Wu-Tang Clan at Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tennessee (2013)

In an epic display, Holly Maniatty captures exactly what Wu-Tang's talking about. Bring Da Ruckus, she did.

Ween at LOCKN', Arrington, Virginia (2016)

Ween lyrics are amusing for everyone involved; interpreting those lyrics for the deaf community, with lines like "I'm stuck in my cabana, living on Bananas and Blow," is the job for an interpreter with a great sense of humor. This guy delivered.