Champion - Stu Nunnery

Musician • Advocate

From: Providence, Rhode Island

Experiencing Hearing Loss

In 1978, Stu experienced a sudden sensori-neural hearing loss in his left ear with severe vertigo and tinnitus. Two years later, the same thing happened to his right ear.

A successful musician, Stu unexpectedly had to consider a life without music at the age of 31. This was incredibly disheartening, however Stu persevered and is very much involved with music nearly 40 years later.

The road to better hearing wasn’t easy, though.

“In 1978 I immediately sought help from an ENT, but received no real diagnosis, treatment, or specific actions I should take,” says Stu. “Given the times, I still had use of my right ear—so maybe my ‘treatment’ was the norm.

After I suffered the second loss, I now needed to be able to function in my marriage and whatever work I could do next now that music was gone. I sought multiple opinions, and eventually traveled to the House Ear Institute in California. I returned home to the reality of a hearing aid in one ear, and a lifetime of limited hearing and ceaseless tinnitus. Music was gone for the next 35 years.”

Stu’s Return to Music

Many different hearing aids and advances helped Stu re-join the world of music.

“After more than 30 years of life without music, my musical self came alive again in 2009,” says Stu. “I eventually returned to playing the piano and singing, restarted voice work, and launched a kickstarter campaign to support my hearing and musical journey. By April of 2016, I decided I was ready to record music again.”

Throughout his journey, Stu has had many role models to inspire him and show him that making music with hearing loss is not an impossible goal.

“There are many musicians with hearing losses of every kind and degree—some friends and colleagues—who have, despite great challenges, continued or found their way back to music out of their deep love, talent, and an unquenchable passion to hear it, play it, sing it, and enjoy it—whatever it takes,” says Stu.

Giving Back

Today Stu is involved in many organizations that advocate for those with hearing loss. He is a member of the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), participating in activities with the Rhode Island and Boston chapters. He even sang “America the Beautiful at the Boston Walk for Hearing in October 2016.

When asked what his advice is to those who have yet to seek assistance, Stu says,

“Don’t even consider waiting to get help because the assistance you receive will either save your life or improve it. This time in hearing history is like no other. There are not only hearing aids and cochlear implants, there are great people, tools, apps and treatments to give you confidence and support unlike 30 years ago. Your focus and passion will drive you to do the many things you must do if you want your hearing experience to change for the better.”

Why Stu is a HearStrong Champion

Stu is a Champion because of his perseverance and dedication to his music, despite all the challenges that came his way. He knows it’s important to advocate for yourself and others with hearing loss, and he continues to exemplify that in his day-to-day life.

“Being a HearStrong Champion is a great honor and a sign to me that my work, my life, and my hearing loss have meaning to others,” says Stu.

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