A blind and autistic woman has left people on the internet stunned after a video of her sublime singing went viral this week.
The video of 24-year-old Lavender Darcangelo was recorded on Sunday by Rufus Gifford, 44, who worked as US Ambassador to Denmark under the Obama administration and who recently had an unsuccessful congressional run in 2018.
Gifford had been invited to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, as a guest speaker by Wil Darcangelo, 49, a minister at First Parish Church, home to people who practice Unitarian Universalism. Though Gifford was there to support Darcangelo's service, which was geared toward LGBTQ people, he wasn't expecting to be blown away by the singing voice of the minister's daughter.
But when Gifford heard Lavender sing "Part of Your World," the iconic song from Disney's 1989 classic The Little Mermaid, he told BuzzFeed News he immediately texted his sister. "Is this as crazy as I think it is?" he wrote. "Is she as good as I think she is?”
According to Gifford, his sister responded, “I watched the video and I started crying.”
Wil Darcangelo, who legally adopted Lavender along with his husband Jamie, 48, in 2017, said they've all been a bit "teary-eyed" about the positive responses to Lavender's big cabaret debut, where she performed four additional songs and a little dance routine.
"I’ve kind of always have felt at some point people would notice her, because here in Fitchburg she’s quite a little celebrity, and her story is so touching," said Wil, who described his daughter as a "charming, kind, thoughtful person."
Wil, who is also a professional singer and vocal coach to his daughter, met Lavender when she was 15 years old. He described her life with her biological family as "challenging."
In 2016, Lavender asked him and his partner to adopt her as an adult, which they quickly agreed to because she "needed a sense of belonging."
“We’re all kind of misfits who needed each other," Wil said of his family in a 2018 news story with the Associated Press.
On social media, Lavender's vocal skills were met with a ton of reactions from people who were genuinely moved by her performance.
There were even folks who asked for requests, like this person who concluded she has "serious chops."
And it's not just people on Twitter who are noticing; Wil said media outlets from around the country have reached out to the family, including Newsweek, PIX 11 in NYC, and a casting director for the competitive talent show America's Got Talent.
"Every five minutes that I turn away from my phone, another thing happens that gives us a lump in our throat," Wil said.
As for Gifford, who played his own role in revealing Lavender's talent to the world, he said this moment feels like a "blessing."
"I just feel lucky to have heard her and I really, really hope that a lot more people hear her afterwards," he said.
"Even if this is only a flash in the pan, she'll still be able to make good use of this 15 minutes in the spotlight," Wil said.
"She can have a real career as a vocalist, even if it's just singing with the headliners of symphonies here and there," he said. "She'll definitely have a meaningful career and that, to me, is all I ever wanted for her."