It may not officially be summer quite yet, but it is for me, as I count the season kicking off with the debut of the latest season of America’s Got Talent. We are only two episodes into the show’s 12th season, and the talent is already the subject of many a water cooler discussion. On Tuesday night’s episode, Simon Cowell bestowed his golden buzzer vote to 29-year-old singer Mandy Harvey, who lost her hearing at the age of 18.
Mandy, who arrived to the auditions with her father and her translator, explained that she had been singing since she was four, but started gradually losing her hearing due to a connective tissue disorder, which she initially thought was “an ear infection that got worse.” As she told the judges, “basically I got sick and my nerves deteriorated.” Mandy stopped singing for a while, she also left school at Colorado State University, where she was studying to be a vocal jazz professor and her father was the one who suggested she give music another go. She is now able to perform thanks to muscle memory, using visual tuners and trusting her pitch. She performs without shoes so she can feel the beat and tempo of the music through the floor.
Accompanied by a bass player and keyboardist, Mandy played ukulele and sang an original song called “Try.” She told the panel she wrote the song because, “after I lost my hearing, I gave up. But I want to do more with my life than just give up.” Mandy got a standing ovation from the audience and Simon told her, “Mandy, I don’t think you’re going to need a translator for this,” before hitting the golden buzzer that sends the singer straight to the live shows later this season. He told her he was “surprised” and “amazed” by her performance. Mandy was overwhelmed, incredulously asking her father “What just happened?” backstage.
My immediate thought when I heard Mandy perform was how her style was so reminiscent of last season’s winner, Grace VanderWaal. Well, Mandy and Grace have already become BFFs on social media. Grace tweeted the clip of Mandy’s performance on Twitter, calling it “magical,” to which Many replied, “AHHHHH Thank you @GraceVanderWaal…If you ever need another Ukulele loving gal to sing with i’m here! #goldenbuzzertwins #agt.” Grace replied with “I would be beyond honored! I can’t even find the words to explain how blown away I am by you and I am 100% sure that you are the winner.”
— Mandy Harvey (@mandyharvey) June 7, 2017
I would be beyond honored! I can't even find the words to explain how blown away I am by you and I am 100% sure that you are the winner🙏🏻 https://t.co/Wh82r3M5gn
— Grace VanderWaal (@GraceVanderWaal) June 7, 2017
Are we going to have back-to-back ukulele playing female vocalists on AGT? I doubt it. I mean, Mandy does have a lovely voice and some definite talent in the songwriting talent but, sob story aside, she is in competition with lots of other, honestly more talented singers. Full disclosure, I have already committed my AGT votes this season to Atlanta’s own Puddles Pity Party. He has an amazing voice and I hope he will inject some of his stage act into future performances, because his live shows are so much more than just singing. I applaud Mandy for not giving up and living her dream, and I’m sure even if she doesn’t win the competition, she’s already won the hearts of the viewing audience. #TeamPuddles.
Photos: Getty Images, NBC/America’s Got Talent