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Deaf Jam – The First Deaf Hip-Hop Concert

Deaf Jam – The First Deaf Hip-Hop Concert

Hosted By Jesse Warner (NFL Player Kurt Warner’s Daughter)

The daughter of football royalty is bringing to New York what’s billed as the first hip-hop concert for the deaf.

Jesse Warner, daughter of former Giants quarterback Kurt Warner, spent the last year and a half organizing “Signs & Rhymes: Intersections of Deaf & Hip-Hop Cultures” with the NYU Gallatin school’s student council.

The free show Monday night at NYU will include entertainers like Finnish hip-hop star SignMark and California comedian CJ Jones, who are both deaf.

“I’m highlighting the fact that the deaf community has its own cultural norms, and they really enjoy experiencing music, which you would not expect,” says the 20-year-old Warner, who is majoring in music therapy and American Sign Language.

“I’ve grown up being the black sheep of this super-athletic family,” she says. “This project has been something I’m really passionate about.”

Warner has worked with the deaf community since childhood, when she joined her older brother at Camp Barnabas, a Missouri camp for kids with special needs.

She picked up sign language from deaf campers and later took ASL lessons throughout middle school and college.

Warner was inspired to create the unique concert after watching one of SignMark’s performances last year.

The 34-year-old MC raps his lyrics using ASL while fellow hip-hop artist Brandon Bauer speaks the lines in English, so all audiences can enjoy the show.

SignMark relies on an amplified bass line to keep the beat as he signs. His energetic shows also include light and video displays to engage all senses.

“Being deaf is not a disability,” says SignMark, who released the world’s first sign language hip-hop DVD in 2006.

“Music is not only for the hearing. We can have fun with music, or talk seriously about things through music. Music is for all.”

Chris (CJ) Jones will emcee this evening’s show.

“Events like this are important to show that there is professional deaf talent,” says Jones,

“The most common misconception about the deaf community is that they do not have college degrees or family life; no job, no culture, no independence,” he says. “We have a lot of successes. You do not need to be ‘hearing’ to function in your world.”

The U.S. Census reports that 10.2 million Americans have some degree of hearing impairment, from difficulty listening to conversations to deafness, but there are no statistics on the number of deaf Americans, let alone deaf New Yorkers.

Similarly, the most recent data estimating how many Americans use ASL (about half a million) dates from the 1970s.