Who is Kelly Kurdi? ‘WAP’ ASL interpreter for Megan Thee Stallion at Lollapalooza goes viral
Kelly Kurdi, an American Sign Language translator, is giving credit where credit is due after receiving significant praise for her dramatic interpretation of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's 'WAP' at Lollapalooza, news outlets revealed on Tuesday, August 3.
A video of Kurdi signing along to the rap duo's sex-positive summer hit at Chicago's Lollapalooza music festival over the weekend had racked up over 9 million views on TikTok as of Tuesday morning. Since the release of the music video in 2020, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's breakthrough single 'WAP' has gotten a lot of attention — and a lot of flak — for being sexually graphic.
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During Megan's performance at the Lollapalooza music festival on August 1, an American Sign Language interpreter stood at her side to translate the song for the hearing impaired. However, the raunchy lyrics are now causing a stir. Here's what we found out about Kurdi.
EXCUSE ME BUT THE SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER DURING MEGAN’S PERFORMANCE OF WAP MUST BE SEEN pic.twitter.com/6p590p5YS2— Alexa Lisitza (@AlexaLisitza) August 3, 2021
Who is Kelly Kurdi?
Kelly Kurdi is an American Sign Language interpreter. According to her LinkedIn profile, which shies away from providing too much information, Kurdi is a freelance interpreter based in Houston. According to ASL Grades, she holds a 'State license for TX: Level I, Basic' certification. She also features in fellow music interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego's website under her 'Music Family'. As per AI, she founded ASL Music Camp with Galloway Gallego and Rocco Lauricella. "We work with a team of deaf artists including Shaheem Sanchez, Warren Snipe, Reginald Green, and Jo Rose B. We train deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing interpreters to become experts in the field of music interpreting," Lauricella told AI.
Speaking to Ameri Disability, Kurdi spoke about the Texas-based company, Amber G Productions in a 2019 article. “I do at least forty to fifty events per year, and that includes festivals which may include four shows a day,” said Kurdi. She was described as a multilingual interpreter who studied at Gallaudet University, an institution for the deaf.
Galloway Gallego's team, which consists of about a dozen dynamic ASL music interpreters, both deaf and hearing-impaired, travels across the country to interpret for chart-topping artists such as Adele, Drake and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as enhancing the musical experience of deaf festival-goers, the article added.
Kurdi said to AI, "We envision a huge movement where deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals have 100% quality access to entertainment. We envision a world where deaf concert goers can buy their ticket and simply click on the option to have an interpreter at the show, knowing the interpreter will be a skilled expert. We envision a world where the deaf community will have the option to access an ASL version of any music video." She concluded: "We’re really excited about the future we envision where access to entertainment for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community is truly equal - for festivals, concerts, and theater shows."
Kurdi extended a shout-out to the original author of the 'WAP' rendition, dancer Raven Sutton, in response to her recent viral success, while calling for better accessibility in the live music environment. “If you’re new to my page, you’ll quickly see this is a space meant to amplify the work of deaf creators and to provide access to social media content for the deaf community,” Kurdi wrote on Instagram.
“I’m a hearing interpreter, so I do not teach. In this post I will direct you to some amazing deaf ASL teachers, deaf influencers, and other deaf content creators.” Kurdi thanked hearing people for their support in the description of her post, while emphasizing that she's "just an interpreter passionate about providing access to a community I love and have learned everything from."