Explore Article Categories

Student Life

More than Talent

By Ryan Klinker, June 22, 2023

Music student with speech impediment competes on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ shares her heart through original songs

Ever since she surprised the judges and audience of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” last year with her abilities as a gifted singer-songwriter who has overcome a speech impediment, Liberty University sophomore Amanda Mammana has continued to be an example of how God can use what we perceive as weaknesses for His glory.

Mammana has a stutter, but like many with this impediment, the stutter isn’t apparent when she sings, as singing involves a different section of the brain. She was drawn to music as a helpful means of communicating her thoughts and feelings.

In April 2022, after flying from her hometown of Trumbull, Conn., to her audition in Pasadena, Calif., Mammana sat backstage as the realization hit her of what was about to happen.

“I did some interviews and B-roll for the show, and the whole time I was realizing, ‘This is really happening. I’m here,’” she recalled. “When I was backstage, I could hear the audience, I could hear (host) Terry Crews talking, and then I walked out on the stage and saw the four judges there. It felt crazy.”

Singing her original song ‘Back to Life,’ Mammana auditions for ‘America’s Got Talent’ in April 2022.

With her guitar hanging on her shoulder and her father watching backstage, Mammana answered the judges’ questions with her natural pauses and speech disfluencies. But that all went away when she began to perform her original song, “Back to Life.” By the end, every person in the room was on their feet cheering, a moment that Mammana said confirmed to her that her stutter should not hold her back.

“For so long, because of my speech, I always felt ashamed and like I could never be anything or do anything,” Mammana said. “When I finished and they all stood up, it made me realize that my speech doesn’t have to be a handicap if I don’t let it. My whole perspective of myself and on God changed. I used to shake my fist at God because He was allowing me to have this speech impediment, but (being on the show) opened my eyes and allowed me to see that He has allowed it for good reasons.”

Her audition for the show has been seen by over 7.3 million people on YouTube and countless others on other platforms. She reached the semifinals, which aired in August, and made it to the top five of her episode before being eliminated.

Mammana walks the red carpet before her semifinal performance on ‘America’s Got Talent.’

Mammana first attended Liberty in the Fall 2021 semester and switched to online classes in Spring 2022 leading up to her audition. She took the Fall 2022 semester off from Liberty to open herself up to opportunities after the show and spent the rest of 2022 performing at a variety of venues. Just a few days after her time on the show ended, Mammana performed in her home state at CityFest, a Christian music festival, in the same lineup as Liberty alumnus TobyMac (’88), Lecrae, We Are Messengers, and others. She later performed at halftime of the Miami Dolphins game on Oct. 16 and during a FOX News broadcast in December. 

She has also released multiple singles and an instrumental EP available on all major music streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music.

This spring, Mammana spent a weekend opening for Christian artist Jason Gray — a stutterer himself — and plans to perform with him this summer at the Up North Worship festival on July 8 in New York.

Mammana rehearses for her halftime performance at a Miami Dolphins game on Oct. 16.

Mammana has received countless messages from people online who have speech impediments and saw her on the show, and she was invited to perform at the annual American Institute of Stuttering Gala on June 12 and the National Stuttering Association’s conference in July.

Her speech impediment and passion for music both developed at the age of 10. After performing in a school talent show and later receiving positive feedback when she posted a video of her playing an original song on social media, Mammana said she started seeing music as a potential career.

“I signed up for my school’s talent show to sing, and up on the stage I felt so free,” she said. “When I saw the people saying they liked my video, I thought that maybe it could be something I could do for a career, and I also thought I could encourage people with my music.”

This led Mammana to eventually choose to study music and, after hearing from friends about the high caliber of Liberty’s School of Music programs, enroll at Liberty in the B.M. in Commercial Music – Recording, Engineering, and Producing program.

“I can only say that it was God that brought me here because I wasn’t crazy about going to college initially, but I felt like He (was leading me here),” she said.

When she’s not on Liberty’s campus, Mammana has had a variety of opportunities to perform her music and raise money for an album, which she plans to work on in the studio this August. 

Since “America’s Got Talent,” Mammana said she has learned to trust in God’s plan for her life and career.

“I’m someone that likes to try and control the future, but it never works out when we try to do things on our own,” she said. “I think being on (the show) helped me learn to let things go and to surrender them to the Lord, and having that time to myself helped me to trust God more. I had to lean on Him and know that He is in control.”  

Get the e-magazine straight to your inbox!

It only takes a click to unsubscribe.