Lily Goh

Advocating the ExtraOrdinary - Deaf advocate, artist and founder of ExtraOrdinary Horizons - Lily Goh is an extraordinary advocate.

As a deaf music practitioner, she uses sign language and music as an exploration of deaf art. An example of this is song-signing to deaf music. She first discovered song-signing in the hearing capacity, at age 17 in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. It combined the two things she enjoyed most – music and sign language. Song-signing is a way of expressing a song through your own interpretation using sign language, body movements, and facial expressions.

With this new passion, Lily was invited by a Deaf organisation from Malaysia to perform at a Deaf Festival. Describing the experience as “eye-opening”, she says audiences from Singapore and beyond were touched by her visual and expressive music. From there, she felt freer with her art and reframed song-signing to deaf music.

However, her journey to find her voice was not always smooth-sailing. When she was 14 years old, she performed her first solo performance at Singapore Conference Hall. Along the way, she felt different from her hearing bandmates, and this caused feelings of loneliness. Instead of letting this be a hindrance, she used it to be a better musician. In 2007, she received two certificates – Grade 6 and 8 in Percussion with Merit. She achieved them through percussion lessons and exams paid for with her money, earned by working 4 part-time jobs.

While she found her voice through art, she advocates for others to find theirs as well. This advocacy was purely accidental. It all started when she joined the first season of Singapore Idol in 2004. With that, came more awareness surrounding being deaf in Singapore. Her goal then was to educate the public that deafness is not something that needs to be fixed.

More than a decade later, she is still continues to advocate for this cause that is close to her heart. This was the goal she had in mind when she founded ExtraOrdinary Horizons, a social enterprise run by the deaf. They aim to promote deaf awareness through courses, workshops, and performances.

Like many of us, Lily aims to carve out a space for herself to be seen and heard in this world. Unlike many of us, she succeeds by not only doing that for herself, but for others as well. That is true art.

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