A deaf rapper?
When Marko Vuoriheimo told his friends and family that he wanted to pursue a career in music he was met with everything from raised eyebrows to outright ridicule. “My teachers, relatives and some of my friends … didn’t really believe in my career at all,” said the Finnish native, whose stage name is Signmark. “But I thought, I’ll still get there and I want to … give an opportunity for this dream of mine.”
And so he did. Fast-forward to now and Signmark is the first deaf person to sign a major record deal. He’s performed in over 40 countries, including the United States, Japan, and Ethiopia. His unlikely success in what’s generally considered a “hearing” industry is also a unique opportunity to use his celebrity as a platform to amplify awareness and advocacy for social inclusion. Most recently, he performed a #Music4Dev concert at the World Bank’s 2016 Spring Meetings, along with his bandmate, Chike, who sang his lyrics. His advocacy work goes back as far as 2010, when he teamed up with the Foreign Ministry of Finland to promote the rights of the disabled people. Through the years, he continued to drum up awareness with other high-profile performances including the UN General Assembly, also in 2010.
Now that he’s proven his naysayers wrong, he encourages others to do the same. “Whatever you do, whatever problems you face, whatever challenges there are, do not give up your dream,” he said.
“Hold onto it.”
Here are the full episodes of all our #Music4Dev performances and interviews thus far, including a few extra songs. We hope you enjoy them:
- Congolese singer Fally Ipupa on providing water, schools, and medical care to Africans
- Nigerian singer D'Banj on gender equality
- Nigerian singer Nneka on women’s rights in Africa
- American singer Fantastic Negrito on racism and cultural preservation
- American singer Drew Holcomb on agriculture and sanitation
- Ghanian star MzVee hopes her music will help end poverty
- Los Angeles-based Cambodian rock band Dengue Fever on employment
- Rahim Alhaj: We have a responsibility to end the refugee crisis