It takes something pretty special to upstage Snoop Dogg, but that’s exactly what happened on May 6 when the 45-year-old was performing at the Jazz Fest in New Orleans, Louisiana, in front of an audience of close to 43,000 people. Few, however, ever thought it would be his sign language interpreter who would steal the show.
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One audience member filmed Snoop’s professional sign language interpreter, Holly Maniatty, getting right into signing the lyrics as Snoop Dogg performed 50 cent’s P.I.M.P and DJ Khaled’s All I do is Win. Since the video was uploaded to Facebook it has been viewed a staggering 13 million times! Sure, plenty of those views would be tuning in to see Snoop Dogg do his thing, but there were also plenty that wanted to see Maniatty doing hers, too.
Maniatty is flattered by the attention she is getting, but she has most definitely earned it. A hip-hop fan herself, Maniatty appears to be just winging it, but she spends plenty of time preparing, usually between 50-80 hours for a single concert! “A lot of people have the idea that rap music cannot be interpreted,” Maniatty said in an interview with Vice in 2013. “But it can be done. It’s a lot of work, but it can be done.”
Maniatty attended the festival to help the hearing-impaired experience the show, but this isn’t the first time her actions have gone viral. Audience footage surfaced in 2013 of the certified interpreter performing sign language at a concert by the Wu-Tang Clan, but Maniatty still isn’t completely comfortable with her new-found fame.
“It’s a little overwhelming because I don’t think of myself as in front of people,” she told Vice. “I guess I am in front of a lot of people but I’m always so absorbed in doing a good job—it’s just about the deaf patrons who are there.” Maniatty claims there are usually five or six deaf audience members when she is performing, but she is trying to do more than just translate the lyrics, rather trying to capture the artist’s musicality as a whole, including movement and expressions, meaning that two artists in the same song will be interpreted differently.
Watch Maniatty with Snoop Dogg here: