Need Help?

The Sign Language Interpreter of the Rappers


On an overcast Chicago afternoon in August 2013, hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar sauntered out onto Lollapalooza’s Bud Light stage. As thousands of twenty-somethings roared with approval, he grabbed a gold-plated mic and cut straight into the intro of “Backseat Freestyle:”Martin had a dream / Martin had a dream / Kendrick have a dream…

Just off to the side of the stage, on a raised platform, 36-year-old Amber Galloway Gallego thrust her hands in the air, and twisted her body to the rhythm. Clad in a purple shirt, and sporting a pink-tinted pixie haircut, she was also in the midst of a dream: to make music — particularly rap — accessible to deaf people.

As an American Sign Language interpreter who specializes in music performance, Gallego has interpreted over 300 rap, R&B, and rock concerts, and has worked with everyone from Aerosmith to Destiny’s Child. After a deaf friend told her that “music wasn’t for deaf people,” she embarked on a quest to prove otherwise; today, she’s hired by major music festivals all over the United States to make auditory performances more relatable for the deaf.

To do so, she employs a tireless mixture of hand signs, facial expressions, body movement, and sensibility.

Read the full text of this excellent article at Priceonomics.