A Maryland girl went viral this week after her father posted a video to social media of the 8-year-old performing Carrie Underwood’s song “The Champion” in American Sign Language.
Richard Dahan, of Frederick, filmed a home video of his daughter Savannah’s bilingual performance and posted it on social media in hopes of sharing her gift for music. Dahan and his family are deaf and speak ASL in their home.
Savannah, who identifies as deaf and can hear with the assistance of hearing aids, grew up loving music and using sign language from a young age, Dahan said.
“ASL involves body language and facial expressions,” he said. “My daughter was able to share her emotions with intensity.”
In the video, Savannah signs the song with full-bodied gusto. Her hands skip with precision from word to word, pausing only when Underwood belts a long note. Her shoulders keep the beat and her face mirrors the song’s message of determination.
The performance quickly got about 75,000 views on Twitter. Dahan tagged Carrie Underwood in the post in hopes she will agree to meet his daughter one day, he said, adding that Savannah thinks the world of the singer.
The song has held special meaning for Savannah because its lyrics speak about summoning the courage to be a champion.
“Savannah was born with some hearing into a deaf family,” Dahan said. “So with her hearing aids she can assimilate in the hearing world, but her heart is with the deaf culture she identifies with. So for her, she is a champion because she so gracefully lives in both worlds.”
Since Savannah’s video went viral, people have reached out to the family and shared how the endearing performance inspired them. Some have joked Savannah is a rock star in her own right.
Dahan hopes the video will teach the public that deaf people should not be considered broken or in need of fixing, he said.
“We're proud, we have a culture,” he said. “We don’t think of ourselves as disabled. [ASL] is a beautiful language of grammar and structure.”