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Watch a Deaf Singer on America’s Got Talent Wow the Audience With Her Moving Song

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In a new episode of America’s Got Talent Tuesday night, one surprising performance moved even the professionally stoic veteran judge Simon Cowell. Contestant Mandy Harvey, 29, lost her hearing at age 18 — but appeared onstage to perform a song of her own composition, aided by a sign language translator to communicate with the judges.

“Basically I got sick and my nerves deteriorated,” she explained to the judges of her hearing loss. She abandoned her passion for a time, but Harvey, who had been singing since she was a child, was able to return to it by relying on muscle memory, visual tuners and trust in her own pitch.

“After I lost my hearing, I gave up. But I want to do more with my life than just give up,” she said, before launching into a performance of the original song, “Try.” A sweet and melodious acoustic tune, Harvey hit every note — and drew tears and a standing ovation from the audience. Finally, Cowell hit the Golden Buzzer, sending her through to the live show.

“I’ve done this a long time,” the former American Idol judge said as he went up to her after to congratulate her. “That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and heard.” Watch her wow the crowd in her moving song, above.

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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com