By Kori Linae Carothers
Imagine for a moment that someone says to you, “Because you have a partial hearing loss, you cannot be a musician.” That happened to me. My name is Kori Linae Carothers and I am a concert pianist and composer. I was born with a hearing loss in my left ear—at least, that is what the doctors always told my parents.
When my parents and I found out I had a hearing loss, it wasn’t a big deal since I didn’t feel any different. I could hear with my right ear. I had a slight slur in my speech but other than that, I felt like everyone else! I loved to dance, sing, talk, dream, and listen to music. Just like most kids my age, I was busy and lived life with gusto.
My love for life changed once kids realized I could not hear as well as they did. Partial hearing was a challenge to me growing up because I had to sit up front in the classroom to hear my teachers. When kids and adults found out about my hearing loss, the teasing began. My peers called me names like “deafy,” and more. What hurt the most was when people laughed at me when I did not get an answer right because I did not hear the question properly. My answers were often out of context.
When I told one of my music teachers in grade school I wanted to be a pianist, she laughed at me, telling me I didn’t have the hearing for it. What? Never tell me I can’t do something, because baby, I will prove you wrong! When I look back on those days I realize that while some of the teasing was cruel, I became a musician and found my true calling: composing and playing the piano.
Skipping forward many years when I got married, I gave up my music to be a wife and mom, but when my husband realized that music is such an essential part of who I am, he encouraged me to pursue it and I have since released four albums. My fifth album, “Fire in the Rainstorm,” is my first solo piano album, while the other four albums are electronic and acoustic albums.
I remember that my first live experience with other musicians was difficult, as I needed to wear in-ear monitoring ear buds in ears, including in my right (hearing) ear. At one of our rehearsals, when I mentioned how difficult it was for me to hear what the other musicians were doing, my friend turned to me and said, “You don’t have to do this.” Well, again don’t ever tell me what to do! I bought an Audio-Technica in-ear monitoring system, and VOILA, problem solved!
While I fully accept my hearing loss, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit being a pianist would be easier with full hearing. I have tried wearing a hearing aid, but with my type of hearing loss, it did not work for me. Recently I wondered if there are any organizations that are researching hearing loss, and what they were doing with that research, as I would love to one day benefit from a cure. With the help of a friend, I learned of Hearing Health Foundation. I was SO impressed with the mission: to prevent and cure hearing loss and tinnitus through groundbreaking research and to promote hearing health. This made me SO happy and I knew right away that I wanted them to be recipients of my PledgeMusic Campaign for “Fire in the Rainstorm,” and I will also be donating proceeds from the sales from the album.
I am grateful for the folks at HHF and for the hope they provide me and others with hearing loss. I know they will continue their groundbreaking research, but not without the help of you and me. I ask you to join me on the journey to spread awareness, promote hearing health, and contribute to their mission so HHF can continue their quest to prevent and cure hearing loss and other hearing disorders.