How a ‘Hamilton’ song helped Amanda Gorman overcome a speech impediment

By Scottie Andrew for CNN

You wouldn’t know it from her commanding delivery at the inauguration, but up until a few years ago, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman struggled to overcome speech impediment.

For much of her life, including when she was still an undergraduate at Harvard, Gorman had trouble pronouncing the letter “R.”To practice saying the letter, she’d listen on repeat to one song she said was “packed with ‘R’s'” — “Aaron Burr, Sir” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s historical opus, “Hamilton.”

“I would try to keep up with Leslie Odom Jr. (who played Burr in the original Broadway cast) as he’s, you know, doing this amazing rap,” Gorman told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, following her triumphant inaugural performance. “I would say, if I can train myself to do this song, then I can train myself to say this letter.

“Sure enough, rapping along with Odom Jr. and Miranda’s fast-paced rhymes worked, and Gorman’s performance of her piece, “The Hill We Climb,” ranked among the highlights of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Overcoming a speech impediment is a milestone she shares with the 46th President, as well as a love for “Hamilton” (the original Broadway cast performed at the White House while he was Vice President and reunited in 2020 for a Biden campaign video).

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