Signmark, (probably) the World's Most Famous Deaf Rapper


He grows up watching music videos on MTV and one day he has the idea of performing the songs in Sign Language. Finnish Marko Vuoriheimo, known as Signmark, was the first Deaf person in the world to sign a contract with an international music company, Warner Music.

El rapero Marko Vuoriheimo conocido como Signmark

Early Musical Interest in a Deaf Family

Marko was born deaf in a family where almost all members are Deaf. Despite this, he has shown a great interest in music since childhood and liked to sing carols in Sign Language. In his youth, he watched the music videos of the MTV and performed successful musical themes in Sign Language, allowing both his Deaf family and his hearing grandparents to enjoy the music.

Not everyone supported Marko in his beginnings. Some of his family and friends did not believe he could make a musical career but he saw beyond scepticism and began composing his own music in Sign Language in 2004 and founding the group Signmark in 2006.

Eurovision and International Contract

In 2009 he almost represented Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest. Signmark reached the final in January 2009 with the song Sepeakerbox and got 41.2% of the votes but was not enough to go to Eurovision.

Despite this, Signmark signed a record contract with Warner Music a few months later, making him the first Deaf person in the world to sign a contract with an international record company. In 2010 he releases his new album, Breaking the Rules, which can still be heard on streaming music distribution giants like Napster and Spotify.

One of his latest media appearances was an interview for the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's largest English-language newspaper, after attending the Hong Kong World Festival of Cultures:

How does Marko Live Music?

Of course, music comes to Marko through vibrations. His songs are interpreted in Finnish Sign Language, American Sign Language or International Signs. In 2014 he included four songs in Chinese Sign Language because he knew that many Chinese fans had difficulty travelling outside the country and seeing him.

To prepare his songs, he also uses headphones, concentrating on the bass and evaluating the feeling conveyed by the music and its tempo. When interpreting songs in Sign Language, he uses strategies such as signing with the hands higher up to express high tones or the hands lower down to low tones.

Probably the Most Famous Deaf Rapper in the World

Signmark is now 41 years old, has a Bachelor's Degree in Educational Sciences and is a lecturer at the University of Helsinki. Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards, including the 2009 Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World award from Junior Chamber International, one of the world's largest youth organizations.

Ten years after his worldwide take-off, Signmark is an idol among the world's Deaf community, often invited to Sign Language art festivals. He has set foot in more than 40 countries with his music, including the United States, Japan, Spain, Germany and Ethiopia, and has given more than 1,000 concerts worldwide.

One of the best examples of Signmark's strength in Sign Language music was a surprise that the Bank of Montreal made for a Deaf girl: Natasha Luttrell. She continues to enjoy music mixing her childhood memories, when she was still listening, with the vibrations. One of her biggest dreams was that Signmark would one day go to Montreal (Canada). Signmark agreed immediately and decided he had to be there. At the end of the video, you can see Natasha saying very excited: 'it was the most beautiful moment of my life'.

Signmark has changed the way the world sees Sign Language in music and how they see Deaf people. For Deaf people who want to follow in his footsteps, Marko has a powerful message:
Whatever you do, whatever problems you face, whatever challenges there are, do not give up your dream
You can follow to Signmark on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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