sing in sign language | Entertainment | The USA Print

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 12: Justina Miles performs

The musical performance at halftime of the Superbowl, the final of the annual American football championship in the United States, is one of the highest-rated moments in all of world television. Millions of people await a performance that turns its protagonist into a world star for a few moments, or so Rihanna expected, in charge of putting music to the event on February 13 at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The one from Barbados could not imagine that the choreographed interpretation in sign language that Justina Miles made of her song would rob her of prominence, turning her into the silent guest of the act. Nursing student Miles took Rihanna’s hits and turned them into a silent dance of words that cast a spell on audiences, revealing the magic and beauty of sign language.

Justina Miles translated Rihanna’s Superbowl songs into sign language

Getty Images

Those who know this experience very well are Núria Martorell and Francina Cortés, from the enCantados project, responsible for organizing inclusive concerts for deaf people, an option that they have managed to take to festivals such as Share in Barcelona, ​​Tempo de Girona or soon Alma , which will be held this summer at Poble Espanyol for the first time. “Sign language is a very close language”, explains Martorell, “it is very difficult for those who do not use it, but since it has to do with gestures, the majority of which are universal, it is also very communicative for listeners like us”. Throughout these years they have collaborated with artists such as Ramon Mirabet, Alba Reche, the rapper Santa Salut or Carla Collado, among others, without forgetting their collaboration with the Terra Gollut film festival, expanding the spectrum of possibilities for deaf people.

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Preparing for a concert is a laborious process that usually requires weeks of work by the performers, as explained by Eva García Codorniu, one of the encantados sign interpreters. “It’s a research job to find out who composed the song and at what time,” he explains, without forgetting that it is often necessary to translate the song from its original language, since each language has its own sign language, and in the case of Eva interprets in Catalan.

“I make poetic contributions with the movement” explains Eva García, interpreter of enContrados

“You get into the shoes of the person who made the song, you do a very rich study that includes facial expression.” After penetrating the context and the meaning of the song, it is time to prepare the interpretation that he will perform in the concert, and that goes beyond the mere literal transcription of the verses. “It is always an interpretation”, remembers García Codorniu, “then it is the job of looking at the movement, what sign I put, what communicative expression in sign language I can put”. The objective is for the spectator to feel the theme as the author wanted to express it, and for this he uses his body. “I make poetic contributions with movement or expressions that are not just signs, as in any other language, that do not have a literal translation in our language but rather it is a concept. It is about trying to find the plasticity that music has in itself”.

sing in sign language


Ramon Mirabet concert with Eva García Codorniu

Martha Pitch

For the interpretation to come to fruition, it is very beneficial to have the complicity of the artist. “Most of them open up and are very sincere even on very sensitive issues on a personal level, that gives you a lot when he is singing the song, you understand what is going on in his mind, because you have to get into his head”, explains García Codorniu, highlighting the importance of knowing the songs in advance to have time to rehearse them. Preparing a song well can perfectly require a week, “for a concert of 13 to 18 songs it takes about two months.” The reward for so much effort comes with the public response, positive both from the deaf and from those who are not. “Deaf people are happy because they can finally understand music, and hearing people perceive it as a more visual contribution to the staging.”

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One of the artists who has internalized the link with sign language the most is Rozalén, who for years has shared the stage with the interpreter Beatriz Romero. “We met in Bolivia and we became mutual fans”, explains the singer-songwriter, emphasizing that Beatriz is not placed in a corner of the stage, but that “she is the protagonist, she is next to me in the center, she is part of the show”. A performance that requires working on the songs for months, “is the person who knows absolutely all the secrets of the songs to make a more visual, more artistic sign language.” Thanks to this effort, “at live concerts everyone knows that there is a performer, and deaf people can come and enjoy it together with the rest.”

sing in sign language


Alba Reche and Anna Armadà Aguirre at the Share festival, where Anna Armadà and Aitor Pérez also signed

Sergi Parames

Although there are no obstacles when choosing a musical genre to bring it closer to the deaf, from enCantadas they recognize that songs with a lot of percussion are easier to interpret, while those that contain many winds, in the case of trumpets, entail difficulties. This circumstance did not hold them back from organizing a concert at the Jamboree with the pianist Ignasi Terraza that included instrumental parts. “Three deaf people went up on stage to put their hands under the piano, drums and bass during a concert by Ignasi Terraza”, explains Francina, highlighting how one of them stated that thanks to that experience “she finally understood that there were styles musicals”. This will to extend music to deaf people is what has led them to organize a fully adapted flamenco concert at the Tablao de Carmen on November 19.

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In addition to sign language, another option to facilitate access to music for deaf people is the use of an inflatable balloon, an option chosen by Encantados who give them away at their concerts so that whoever wants to can use them by holding them with their hands or bringing them closer to the body to feel the vibrations of the music. Núria Martorell explains that it was two deaf people who discovered this possibility when they appeared at a concert bringing their own balloons, “but they were ashamed to use them”. Now they hand them out at the beginning of their concerts. “The closer you are to the speaker, the more you notice the vibration,” explains Núria, “it’s a way of making this option visible.” It is precisely to make this option visible that enCantados wants to promote a logo designed by Francina Cortés, a microphone with an ear inside, which would identify those concerts adapted for people with hearing problems who, despite their impediments, want to enjoy a passion for music that goes beyond any sense.

Francina Cortés, from Encantados, holds a balloon with the icon of concerts for the deaf

Francina Cortés, from Encantados, holds a balloon with the icon of concerts for the deaf


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