Marko Signmark Vuoriheimo. Cultural achievement.
Born deaf into a family in Finland that communicated only in sign language. Marko Vuoriheimo learned to sign as his first language. As a child he wanted to bring his hearing grandparents and deaf parents together through music. His career as an artist started with translating christmas carols to sign language, so the family could sing together. Vuoriheimo has worked a sign language teacher, a classroom assistant, a sports instructor and a lecturer. Now known as Signmark to his fans he has followed his dreams to become an international hip hop artist, a revolutionary. Signmark created a new style in which the lyrics rhyme in sign language and english at the same time. His live shows are bilingual, both signed and rapped out loud. Signmark shows hip hop music because he can feel the strong bass of the songs and can follow the rhythm. Hip hop is a genre with a long history of social critique that works well with Signmark's message of change. Signmark became the first deaf person ever to sign a record deal with a major label, Warner Music Finland. He released the world's first sign language hip hop DVD in 2006. The album "Signmark" takes a stand for equality, bridges the gap between the deaf and the hearing and awakens people to the fact that the deaf can enjoy music. Signmark plans to release his second album in march 2010 in american sign language and spoken english to reach more people around the world. He has toured in more than 20 countries and came second in the Eurovision song contest. Outside of music Signmark tours schools in Finland and abroad with his hearing business partner to spread the word that individuals can do anything if they believe in their dreams. They also have started a business focused on education, tv programs and sign language consultation to build bridges and counter-act prejudice. Signmark believes that society should not treat the deaf as handicapped people, but as a linguistic minority with their own culture, community history and heritage. Born in a world where music is for the hearing, Signmark has broken down barriers and opened up a new world of music for deaf people everywhere.