LEOMINSTER — Lavender Darcangelo is floating on cloud nine after being named one of this season’s finalists on “America’s Got Talent.”
“When I found out that I was being moved to the finals, I cried because it made me feel closer to my big dreams,” Lavender, 28, said from California on Thursday, the day after the results show. “After all, I have so many dreams that go beyond AGT! And I can’t wait until all these other doors open.”
The Fitchburg native and Leominster resident gave another stellar performance this week, once again in the coveted last slot of the lineup just like her July performance that moved her forward. Votes from her fan club all over North Central Mass. and the country this week secured a spot for her as one of two acts left standing.
Lavender’s take on “I Want To Know What Love Is” during the Aug. 22 AGT semifinals live show brought audience members to tears and everyone in the entire auditorium to their feet for a standing ovation at the end of the moving and emotional rendition of the 1999 Foreigner power ballad.
The judges once again heaped on the praise, with her mentor Heidi Klum telling the talented blind and autistic singer that she is proud of her and loves her and “I feel you when you are singing, I feel you, I hope everyone in this room felt you, I hope everyone at home felt you,” and a smiling Simon Cowell saying that “it’s just the most amazing feeling…when a contestant who everyone loves nails it and you can feel it.”
The high energy Aug. 23 results show was filled with performances that host Terry Crews called “amazing” and “incredible.” Lavender’s dad Wil Darcangelo, who is also a Sentinel & Enterprise/Lowell Sun columnist, held her hand on stage as they whittled the contestants down to the final two and dad Jamie Darcangelo and Paula LeDuc, the mother of Brian LeDuc, Lavender’s boyfriend of four years, cheered from the audience.
Lavender and her two dads, who adopted her in 2017, had tears streaming down their faces when they called her name as a finalist along with Adrian Stoica and his dog Hurricane. Klum reacted to the news by saying, “my heart is so happy right now.”
“I told you I would hold your hand till the end and look where we are!” she said to Lavender, who responded by calling Klum her new best friend. Klum echoed the sentiment and told Lavender they’d swap phone numbers.
Lavender and her crew flew back to the East Coast on Thursday. They’ll head back to Los Angeles in the middle of next month to prepare for the season 18 live two-hour finals show that will air on Sept. 26.
Wil said they hoped and believed that Lavender would get through to the finals — and that they were “thrilled” that she did.
“All of the other semifinalists in our episode were positive she would go through, their encouragement was really uplifting,” he said. “They were all so thrilled for her. Lambros Garcia, the 10-year-old dancer who was called up against her during the eliminations, was waiting for her in the wings to throw his arms around her with so much joy it was stunning. You almost forgot he had just lost his spot in the finals to her. He was so happy. His family were sad of course, and I’m sure he was too. But his gladness for her seemed to outweigh it.”
Jamie echoed his husband’s sentiments, saying that they thought her performance “was just amazing.”
“The ethereal nature of the performance kept goosebumps on my arms throughout the song,” he said. “I was so appreciative of all the people that came together to make the moment happen. It seemed every person at AGT truly cared about each and every contestant. I know we appreciated that feeling, knowing how many others they were working for as well. We are so grateful that America and the judges felt just as we did, that it was one of the best AGT performances of the season so far. We are so happy to continue this amazing adventure.”
Lavender posted many photos and thoughts from her latest AGT round on social media and kept saying how much fun it was to get to know the other contestants and their families, many of whom she has become close friends with. Country singer Mitch Rossell, who made it to the top three, invited her to perform with him in October and co-semifinalists True Villains from Nashville asked her to record with them in the coming months.
A plethora of media outlets across the country and world including People and Billboard magazines and USA Today have picked up her story and when you Google Lavender Darcangelo AGT story after story as well as a number of videos pop up.
There were three watch parties in Fitchburg for her live performance this week, at The Log Cabin, River Styx Brewing and Legends. Social media was blowing up after that show and the results show and local pages Leominsterites Unite and Discussing Fitchburg Now are filled with post after post by people praising and supporting their hometown hero.
When asked what it means to her to have so many people in her corner cheering her on, Lavender said, “it means to the world to me to have so many fans because all I want to do is to show people love and empower them because there were many times in my life that I felt unloved and unworthy.”
She said she specifically chose the Foreigner song because she “had a lot of trust issues growing up and I felt unworthy a lot.”
“I wasn’t bullied or anything in school,” Lavender said. “In fact, I knew that lots of people cared about me, and they wanted to include me in things, but because of my disabilities they did not know how. My boyfriend [Brian] became one of my first best friends in the whole entire world who really tried to figure out how to have me participate in hard activities, in ways that even my dad’s and I have not thought of. And so, at the very beginning when he was first in the picture, I was very standoff-ish because he included me in ways I was not used. I didn’t know what love was until he came into my life! This song is for anybody who expects to be treated a certain way because they’re used to it, only to find out that they are being caressed instead of being pinched.”
She said she encourages people to go out there and chase their dreams like she is doing – dreams that are coming true right before her eyes.
“The world was never against you; the world was always waiting for you all along. You just gotta believe that there is more than what you have seen.”