Musicians help give hearing devices to Rio residents

AP News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2015 4:53 PM
Musicians help give hearing devices to Rio residents

Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry helped give people the gift of hearing while in Rio de Janeiro for the Rock in Rio music festival.

The artists, members of the Hollywood Vampires rock group, together with the Starkey Hearing Foundation and other celebrities, helped fit customized hearing devices on Thursday on 218 Rio residents of all ages, some of whom had lived in silence for most of their lives.

Depp who was accompanied by his wife, Amber Heard, described the experience as "moving."

Also present was Brazilian bossa nova legend Sergio Mendes.

Though a handful of residents with new hearing devices were to attend the Hollywood Vampires show Friday night, Cooper joked they should start by listening to something softer — like Mendes' songs.

Ana Maria Marques, who hadn't heard a single noise for years, said she was euphoric with her new hearing device and spoke clearly about the way she felt. Yet for the children who were born deaf, they will now have the opportunity to learn how to speak, explained William F. Austin, founder of the Starkey Hearing Technologies and Foundation.

"Children don't develop speech because the hearing must come first," Austin said.

Perry, who helped set up a hearing device for one of those children, said he had no words to describe the experience.

"The impact is astounding," he said. "So to make that available to kids whether they end up liking music or not doesn't matter, it's just the fact that they can hear again."