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Signmark, deaf rap artist to perform in NYC – message of equality & love for music - Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN : Current Affairs

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News, 7/6/2014

Signmark, deaf rap artist to perform in NYC – message of equality & love for music

A deaf rap-artist, Signmark, will be visiting New York as a part of the delegation of the Minister for International Development of Finland Mr. Pekka Haavisto from 7 July to 9 July 2014. He will be performing in the side event of the conference that is promoting the human rights of persons with disabilities into the new post 2015 agenda. Signmark will also perform to public in a local rock club, Le Poisson Rouge on Tuesday, 8 July.

Signmark (Marko Vuoriheimo) grew up in a family that used sign language. Already as a child he dreamt of combining the sign language to music. This dream has taken him far, as Signmark is the first deaf person in the world to launch a hip-hop DVD and to get and international record deal.  With his music and his positive attitude Signmark has promoted the rights of the disabled people in Finland and around the world.

Photo: Signmark

Signmark’s career in music started as a child with translating Christmas carols to sign language so the whole family could sing together. After watching music videos on MTV, Vuoriheimo decided that one day his own videos would be on TV too. Some of his friends doubted this dream, as music has traditionally been perceived as something only for the hearing. Signmark ignored those who doubted him, kept pursuing his childhood dream and found a way of combining the rhythm and his message through hip hop music. Signmark states that the deaf should not be treated as disabled but as a language minority, who have their own culture and history. Indulgence is important in the multicultural world.

During the years Signmark has brought up the rights of deaf people in several international forums. This time he will perform on July 8th in a side event of the UN ECOSOC high-level political forum. The intention of the event is to raise awareness of inclusion and non-discrimination of development and international development cooperation to all persons with disabilities. Signmark states that he is proud to be a part of such project: “I am especially proud of our Ministers as they understand that they should not speak on behalf of people like me, as they have not lived this life themselves”. 

The rights of disabled persons are playing a significant role in the international human rights policy of Finland.  Non-discrimination is one of the cornerstones of human rights and crucial to human rights based approach to development. Special attention should be paid to groups that are more likely to be discriminated than others. In the future, Signmark wants to keep on raising awareness of the rights of disabled persons. He states that when creating the goals for international development and trying to eliminate poverty, it is important to remember that the persons with disabilities are the ones who live in the lowest marginal of the poverty. “When creating the goals for international development, it is important to remember that the persons with disabilities should have equal participation in decision making and equal access to education. In addition to talk, we need actions.”

Signmark, who himself is the best model for the agenda that forbids discrimination and supports equality, says that he is really looking forward to the performance in New York. “I am very happy about performing with my new album that has received a lot of positive feedback from around the world. There are great artists featuring on the album and musicians such as Iggor Cavalera and Adam Tensta, who are preforming with me in New York. So looking forward to a great gig!”

Signmark New York
Photo: Signmark

Signmark in Le Poisson Rouge on Tuesday, 8 July at 7pm. Tickets 15 dollars in advance, 20 dollars from the door.

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Updated 7/7/2014

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