KUSA - This week Longmont native Mandy Harvey wowed the judges on the NBC show America's Got Talent.
She sang an original song titled, "Try" while playing the ukulele. She wrote the song about her struggles since she lost her hearing while studying music at Colorado State University.
"You see could it [her hearing] deteriorate very rapidly during her freshman year," said Cynthia Vaughn who attended the same church as Mandy and began private voice lessons with her when she was 14.
Vaughn was also her professor at CSU. She says the sudden hearing loss was the beginning of a very tough time for the now 29-year-old singer.
"I can't even imagine what a dark year she had when she dropped out of school, and just tried to figure out who she was now that she couldn't do what she always wanted to do," said Vaughn. "She had to figure out what the next step would be."
For almost a year, Vaughn barely heard from Mandy. One day Mandy messaged her and apologized for being out of touch and told her she wanted to sing for her. They arranged a meeting and Vaughn was blown away by what she heard.
"She walked in the door with music in her arms and headed straight for the piano," said Vaughn.
Out of habit, Vaughn played a chord on the piano. Mandy matched it perfectly.
"I was absolutely stunned. I said Mandy, what did you just do? How did you do that? She wasn't touching the piano. I'll never forget this, she said I don't know, I just want to sing."
Vaughn can't quite explain it, but says somehow Mandy figured out a different way to perceive pitch and rhythm.
"She always was an impeccable musician. Wonderful rhythm. So even when her hearing went, all of that stayed with her. So I think there are just a lot of unique remarkable circumstances that all came together to allow her to be able to do what she does."
Vaughn and Mandy worked together for a little while after her hearing loss and eventually she landed regular gigs singing around Fort Collins. She also put out several albums.
"This is now 10 years since she lot her hearing," said Vaughn. "The girl that came to me a year after she lost her hearing and was just starting these baby steps to where she is now, she's a full fledged artist. I think that's a very bold and wonderful step for her to audition for America's Got Talent."
She's excited to watch where this latest journey will take Mandy.
"People are so inspired by her, because it would have been so, as she even said when she was talking on the show, it would have been so much easier to just quit, but that's not who she is," Vaughn said.
On Tuesday's episode of America's Got Talent, Mandy received the "Golden Buzzer" which automatically put her through to the live episodes of the show.
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