Whether in person or online, people love watching Holly Maniatty at work. Maniatty is a certified sign language interpreter, and videos of her signing songs by rap legends like Wu Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg have garnered hundreds of thousands of views online.
"I've always loved hip hop," Maniatty said. "I've always been intrigued with the ability to use words to convey different meanings. Becoming an interpreter was a natural marriage there."
The Beastie Boys were the first hip hop act she interpreted for, but she's done other artists like Jay-Z and Eminem. Maniatty has been interpreting for musical performances for 16 years, and doing large festivals for ten years.
Maniatty is usually hired by the disability department of a festival, to allow equal access to the concert for Deaf concert-goers. Deaf patrons will request interpreting services for specific acts.
Maniatty and her team of American Sign Language interpreters spend a lot of time preparing for a concert beforehand. They do extensive research on the artist, his/her life, and the lyrics to many of their songs.
"As an interpreter, you're only as successful as the last song you interpreted, or the 90 seconds someone caught and made viral, so I've been very fortunate that they were successful moments," she said.
She's regularly surprised to see her work go viral online, but she says the best feedback she gets is from a Deaf patron.
"If they are dropping with the beat and the crowd, bumpin' to a particular rhyme etc. mission accomplished! Music is such a personal experience- to be a part of that for an audience is truly a privilege."
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