Singer Mandy Harvey delivered a touching performance on the Tuesday episode of America’s Got Talent, earning her a standing ovation from the audience and a firm stamp of approval from judge Simon Cowell.
The Florida native took to the stage in a bright red dress and black tights, looking a bit uncertain as she stood before the four judges with her ukulele. During the pre-performance back-and-forth, Harvey revealed that she was deaf, and the woman standing next to Cowell was her interpreter, Sarah.
“I lost all my hearing when I was 18 years old,” she said, attributing the hearing loss to a connective tissue disorder. “So basically I got sick, and my nerves deteriorated.”
The 29-year-old went on to explain that she has been singing since she was four, but that losing her hearing caused her to lose hope – until she found a new way to reconnect with her musical roots, through “muscle memory, using visual tuners and trusting my pitch.”
Harvey added that her original song, “Try,” was a very personal one that she wrote to remind herself not to give up on her dreams.
“After I lost my hearing, I gave up, but I want to do more with my life than just give up,” she said.
The singer, who went shoeless so that she could feel the tempo and the beat through the floor, then stunned the judges with her ethereal, soulful voice. Cowell and his fellow judges – Heidi Klum, Melanie “Mel B” Brown and Howie Mandel — gave Harvey a standing ovation.
“Mandy, I don’t think you’re going to need a translator for this,” Cowell said, emphatically pushing the Golden Buzzer, sending Harvey straight through to the upcoming live rounds.
Later, as he hopped onstage to congratulate Harvey and her father, he told the teary contestant, “I mean, I’ve done this a long time, and this is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen or heard.”