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Iris Christenson and Lavender Darcangelo: Kindred Spirits

When Iris Christenson walked into a Massachusetts coffee shop this summer, she had no idea that the visit would result in the thrill of a lifetime: a meeting and subsequent friendship with her idol. Iris—who receives services from Nonotuck in Clinton, MA—recently joined Nonotuck Clinician Kate Hucknall on a pilgrimage to Fitchburg, MA, birthplace of her favorite singer, Lavender Darcangelo.  

The duo stopped at said coffee shop, The Cozy Corner, where their conversation naturally centered around Lavender, which caught the attention of a fellow patron, Chris Cordio, owner of American Pizza Pie in Fitchburg. Chris offered to connect them with Lavender through a mutual acquaintance, City Councilor Sam Squailia, who is currently running for Mayor of Fitchburg. Phone calls were made, and Lavender called Kate that evening for an initial introduction. “She said ‘I’m really happy you went to my hometown, I’m so touched. I’d really like to meet Iris,” Kate says. Two days later, Kate facilitated a three-way FaceTime call with Iris and Lavender, and another call a week later.

Lavender recently gained national attention appearing on popular competition show America’s Got Talent (AGT). She is also, like Iris, blind, a commonality that enhances Iris’s already fervent fandom. “Every morning she wakes up and listens to Lavender’s songs,” Kate says. “It’s a huge topic {of conversation} between us.”

During a break from AGT in LA, Lavender was home, and asked if she might be able to meet with Iris on a day outside of the normal time that Kate and Iris meet. Kate drove to pick up Lavender and her boyfriend while Iris’ direct care staff drove Iris to a coffee shop in Leominster, where the pair enjoyed a, lively meeting. “It was spontaneous; she had plans to go to Walmart and Dunkin, and instead ended up at a coffee shop with her idol,” Kate says about Iris. “It was just so positive, fun, loud, and no one seemed to care if it was too loud.”

It goes without saying that the meeting was a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for Iris. “{Meeting Lavender} was fun and amazing! It was almost like it wasn’t real because we had only seen her on TV and heard her music and had a few FaceTime calls together. Then we were all sitting together talking and it was so much fun!” Iris says. 

Lavender felt similarly, finding kindred spirits in both Kate and Iris. “My favorite part of meeting Kate and Iris is that I don't act my age, and finding out that they have similar, loud quirks like me and that they are very wholesome people who like activities that are more for kids, and I thought I was the only adult in the world who likes kid thingies,” she says. “I love it when we pull each other's legs and I also love how they both have validated my experiences growing up and not feeling like I was heard.”

Unfortunately, Lavender did not make the cut during the AGT finale on September 27th, but nonetheless has big plans for her music career, including a forthcoming album she calls ambitious, crossing genres and mixing covers and originals. While she might not have prevailed in primetime, she was thrilled for the winner and feels as though the universe was protecting her from being overwhelmed with all that entails from winning AGT, Kate says.

Regardless, Lavender has undoubtedly gained a friend for life in Iris. “My music career is generally very overwhelming and I have a lot to deal with. Their playfulness helps me be sane, and so does recreation when I am not thinking about music or my business in general,” Lavender says.  

The feeling is mutual for Iris. “I think we (Iris and Kate) have started to form a nice friendship with Lavender. We have plans to go out again together for lunch when she gets back from her trip to LA for AGT (when she’s ready),” Iris says. “Kate and I are really looking forward to spending more time with Lavender and getting to know each other more.”


Learn more about Lavender’s music on her official site.

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