A film still from the music video “Biblical,” featuring Calum Scott and Deaf West Theatre. (YouTube)
It’s been 30 years since Deaf West Theatre first established itself as a groundbreaking theater company that bridged the gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds. Two of the company’s productions eventually found their way to Broadway, 2013’s revival of Big River and the 2015 revival of Spring Awakening — both earning multiple Tony Award nominations.
Deaf West Theatre recently collaborated with multi-platinum-selling singer/songwriter Calum Scott to create an American Sign Language (ASL) version of his recent single “Biblical,” which premiered in June. The ASL version of “Biblical” encompasses a moving video in which the U.K.-based artist and several performers interpret the track’s deeply personal storytelling.
“It is incredibly important for me to reach as many people as possible with my music, so when the opportunity came about to work with the Deaf community, I was so excited to collaborate,” says Scott. “I feel immense gratitude to know that my music continues to transcend language across the world and not only did I want to have a sign language version of the song, but I also wanted to learn how to sign it myself to connect directly with my fans in this often underrepresented community.”
Shot in black and white, the ASL version of “Biblical” opens on Scott spelling out the song’s title in ASL. From there, the visual focuses on a series of actors as they each offer up a passionate interpretation of “Biblical” and its heartfelt expression of unconditional love. As revealed by Giovanni Maucere (the video’s ASL director), each frame was meticulously crafted to enhance the song’s impact among members of the Deaf community.
“It is my honor to collaborate with Deaf West Theatre and Calum Scott,” says Maucere. “I knew that we could bring a new facet to the song by expressing the beauty and honesty of the song through ASL. Deaf people experience music in various ways, and in this video, ASL is layered with camera movement and lighting in a way that we can begin to feel Calum’s story. This music video is a true expression of honest and accessible storytelling.”
Partly recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, “Biblical” marks the first single from Scott’s forthcoming sophomore album. Due out later this year, the album will follow his 2018 full-length debut Only Human — an acclaimed release that hit No. 1 on the iTunes album chart in 21 countries across the globe, in addition to selling more than 3.6 million in adjusted album sales and amassing over 7.5 billion combined streams.
With the release of the ASL version of “Biblical,” Scott has moved forward with his ambition of making music that fosters a profound sense of community and connection. “Having seen how my music had reacted with people over the last three years, it gave me an opportunity to absorb what I had experienced, to mature and become an artist with a mission,” says Scott. “I want to create something for people to feel seen, heard, and represented.”
Watch clips from Deaf West Theatre’s Tony-nominated musicals below: