Kelly Gallagher ‘22
There’s nothing quite like letting yourself become completely absorbed in a good song, and Matt Maxey, founder of DEAFinitely Dope, is striving to bring this experience to the Deaf community. Maxey also works to raise awareness about the Deaf community and unify the Deaf and hearing communities through music. Thanks to DREAM (Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring), a peer educator group on campus, students at the College of the Holy Cross will be able to join Maxey in an immersive musical experience on Feb. 28 in Seelos Theatre.
DEAFinitely Dope is an organization which “brings hip-hop and R&B music to the Deaf community through American Sign Language,” as DREAM member Tess Conroy ‘22 explained. She said that Maxey “grew up with hearing loss and without much exposure to the Deaf community or ASL.” He didn’t learn sign language until he attended Gallaudet University, where deaf and hard-of-hearing students use both ASL and spoken English. His biography on DEAFinitely Dope’s website states that the experience helped him to “attempt to balance the struggle of developing his identity as a double minority in terms of ability and race.” He practiced ASL by signing the words to his favorite songs. Maxey founded DEAFinitely Dope in 2014, and as stated in his biography, he has since strived to “break barriers and defy the norms with a fresh perspective on interaction, inclusion, accessibility and equality, as awareness continues to grow!”
Conroy added that “Maxey’s style of song interpretation is not word for word translation. Instead, he carefully studies the lyrics to understand the artists’ messages and stylistically interprets music to bring the song to life.” His dynamic artistry has attracted the attention of many other high profile musicians, including Chance the Rapper and D.R.A.M. Online, he has over 100,000 followers.
Conroy and her fellow DREAM members Kathleen Miller ‘22 and Hannah Walsh ‘22 are eagerly anticipating the performance, which will mark Maxey’s first time on campus. But as Walsh explained, the event has long been anticipated by DREAM. Maxey was originally supposed to visit campus in 2020, but the event was canceled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are excited that we can finally bring him to campus,” Walsh added.
Walsh, Miller, and Conroy agreed that they’re looking forward to learning “about Matt’s experience as a Deaf Black man and his journey towards artistic interpretation.” Miller added that she believes students at the College will also enjoy learning about Maxey’s story, as well as “experiencing their favorite songs in a new way.”
DREAM is excited to welcome the campus community to DEAFinitely Dope. Miller explained that as “a peer educator group made up of students with and without disabilities, DREAM hopes to create a welcoming, stigma-free campus community that promotes disability pride so that all students have an opportunity to flourish and embrace their differences.” DREAM has run educational campaigns about various disabilities and has also “partnered with other peer educator groups to promote social justice on campus.” Maxey’s exciting musical performance is the perfect opportunity to bring community members together in awareness.
Be sure to come to DEAFinitely Dope for a unique, eye-opening musical experience on Feb. 28, from 7-9 p.m.! Maxey’s performance will be accompanied by a Q&A session, and ASL interpreters will be present for the duration of the event. The campus community will be welcomed to the event, as will outside visitors who provide proof of a booster or a negative PCR test. Students can register in advance on MyHC, though registration is not required.