Interview with Lee Marshall, BSL song-signer by Matilde Martinetti

Published: Feb 18th, 2015

Let’s start from the beginning: are you deaf or hearing?

I’m hearing, born into a hearing family. I learnt BSL at the University of Bristol in my Deaf Studies degree and have been signing for almost 6 years.

leesbsl1

What is your background and how did you get to become a song-signer?

I first came across signed songs when I was watching the music channel, The Hits, and saw several in-vision interpreters signing the music videos of songs. I got hooked and thought it was amazing – the translations, the way they grooved to the beat, the fact it was giving access to deaf people; I thought it was fantastic! I quickly learnt as many as I could. In 2009, I thought to myself “I could do that” and started to film myself sign songs and post them on YouTube. It got a great response. Now, after many months of silence, I’m back again with my website leesbslsongs.london.

What challenges did you face in developing your project and how did you overcome them?

The main challenges were: making sure my translation of the song was right (it takes a while for me to be comfortable with a translation), and also picking the right songs. All my songs have a positive message about being the best you can be and I want to pass that message onto young people. I had to screen them first to make that they don’t have swear words or anything sexual in nature.

leesbslsongs2

Future plans/ambitions?

I want to expand this to stories and poetry and other BSL resources, perhaps a country signs glossary (that’s another passion of mine!). I love seeing signed performances and their translations have their heart and souls put into them. It’s fantastic to watch AND do yourself! I recommend that everyone watches sign language arts.

Any suggestions for a deaf person who wants to take up a career in the art?

Anyone can sign a song, deaf and hearing. There can be conflict, such as ‘why is a hearing person signing songs,’ or even ‘why do deaf people do it, they can’t hear.’ But it’s something that everyone can do, even hearing people who can’t sign can learn a song within an hour. They have to be dedicated and give their all in the song, and don’t feel embarrassed!

London, January 2015

You can find Lee’s Website here

4 Responses to “Interview with Lee Marshall, BSL song-signer by Matilde Martinetti”

  1. Kevin says:

    I read your profile and your ambition. I wish I would to join your studio. I am hard of hearing since birth. I play guitar more than 38 years. I understood that we live different provinces, country. Let we would groovy performer would be great for us!! Keep up!!

  2. Lorraine Robinson says:

    Lee Marshall is brilliant sign song. I was worked with him. He is very natural of sign song with sign language. He is so brilliant and fantasy sign song wow he is so natural and so smooth. I love it.

  3. Kevin John says:

    I would like to learn how to song in sign language.
    im mself deaf

  4. jmcde says:

    Great interview! Would love to see the whole taped session. I watched your YouTube vids constantly and actually use some signs in my interpreting (ASL, college, in NYC). For the record, you have the best signed Vive la Vida I’ve seen, bar none. Love your Lady Gaga, too. Are any of those vids avail somewhere?

    More practical note, I used to access a BSL Science&Tech dictionary for vocabulary where there’re no ASL equivalents from the Royal Scottish Institute, Royal Institute Deaf, or something like that. I can’t remember the name but I do know they’ve reorganized under a different name. Anyway, I’ve searched all over and cannot find the website! Does any of this sound familiar? Do you have any suggestions as to where I ight look?

    Thanks so much and I look forward to seeing more of your awesome interpretations.

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