Inspirational Gateshead woman Joanne Milne hears music for the first time

Friends of inspirational Gateshead woman Joanne Milne have captured the moment she heard music for the first time

Jo Milne
Jo Milne

Friends of inspirational Joanne Milne have captured the moment she heard her music for the first time after a lifetime of white noise.

Born deaf, and now registered blind, it has taken 40 years for Joanne from Low Fell, Gateshead, to finally get her wish after medics this week flicked the switch on her cochlear implants.

After undergoing surgery last month, Joanne had an agonising four-week wait to find out if the operation had been a success.

But as the sounds of John Lennon’s Imagine filtered into the room, she was able to hear for the first time what music sounds like.


She said: “The switch-on was the most emotional and overwhelming experience of my life and I’m still in shock now. I have to learn to recognise what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain.

“Hearing things for the first time is so emotional from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can’t stop crying and I can already foresee how it’s going to be life changing.” The operation also means Joanne has been able to hear her own – and others’ – voices for the first time. She said: “I’m so happy. Over the last 48 hours hearing someone laughing behind me, the birds twittering and just being with friends,,, they didn’t have to tap my arm to get my attention which a massive leap.”

Born deaf, Joanne started to lose her vision in her late 20s due to the rare condition Usher Syndrome. Since her diagnosis she has selflessly made it her mission to mentor others living with Usher. She added: “Being deaf was just who I was. Unfortunately when I became registered blind things changed dramatically and for the first time being deaf became increasingly difficult.”

When she discovered she was going to have the operation, Joanne asked her friend Tremayne Crossley, from Washington, to make her a compilation of songs as she had always wondered what music sounded like. Tremayne selected a song from year of Joanne’s life, and sent his compilation to radio presenter Lauren Laverne for her BBC 6Music radio feature Memory Tapes.

An Introduction to Music playlist, including When Doves Cry by Prince, Common People by Pulp and One Day Like This by Elbow, was played out on the show yesterday. DJ Lauren Tweeted: “Just watched a video of today’s #MemoryTape recipient having her cochlear implant turned on and hearing for the first time. Studio in floods.”

What is on Tremayne’s Memory Tape? An Introduction To Music includes:

Ken Boothe – Everything I Own

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – She’s the One - Live at Hammersmith Odeon

Paul McCartney – Silly Love Songs

Joni Mitchell – Black Crow

Steely Dan – Peg

Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky

Gary Numan – Are ‘friends’ Electric?

The Specials – Do Nothing

Soft Cell – Tainted Love

The Jam – Town Called Malice

Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Prince – When Doves Cry

Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)

The Smiths – Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others

Fleetwood Mac – Big Love - Live (Lindsey Buckingham solo acoustic version)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car

The The August & September

Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart

Ozric Tentacles – Sploosh!

INXS – Baby Don’t Cry

Nirvana – All Apologies

Richard Thompson – King Of Bohemia

Pulp – Common People - Full Length Version / Album Version

Everything But The Girl – Missing

Foo Fighters – Everlong

Massive Attack – Teardrop

Jimmy Eat World – For Me This Is Heaven

The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist

Daft Punk – Digital Love

The Streets – Turn The Page

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps

Beastie Boys – An Open Letter To NYC

Nine Inch Nails – The Hand That Feeds

Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

Radiohead - Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Elbow - One Day Like This

Maximo Park – Tanned

Gruff Rhys – Shark Ridden Waters

The Joy Formidable – Whirring

Bat For Lashes – Laura

Haim – Don’t Save Me


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