Nicki Maher, 43, from Somerset, Massachusetts filmed and posted a video of Delaney Wilson, 18, on TikTok singing to her daughter while they played together. It has amassed over 12 million views and millions of likes on her page @nickunplugged.
In the video, Ms Maher whispers to the camera, “This is our babysitter”, and then pans the camera to Ms Wilson singing Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid, the 1989 Disney animated movie.
She wrote in the video’s closed captions, “I’m trying to encourage her to put her voice out there more, But she gets discouraged about the way she looks in her videos. And all I see is beauty. So do my kids. Let’s show her some love so I can get her to sing for us more.”
She was moved to share her babysitter’s talent after the teenager expressed a lack of confidence in herself, both her vocal ability and her appearance.
“That’s when she said to me, ‘I just overthink it and I never feel like I sound good enough and I just don’t feel confident in the way I look,’ And that just broke my heart,” Ms Maher told Fox News.
Ms Wilson told the outlet about how she had been the victim of “a lot of negative comments” about “what I like to do and my voice and my persona”.
Ms Maher told Fox News that she knew that Ms Wilson was a great singer before she filmed her, as her friend is a teacher at Ms Wilson’s high school. Following this tip, Ms Maher searched more about her, finding her own account on the video sharing platform, where she goes by @delaneyreneemusic.
One of Ms Maher’s favourite videos of Ms Wilson was her finding out she made it into Berklee College of Music, the place she was desperate to get into.
She told Fox News, “That’s made me cry. I was like, I love this type of little story. She seems so sweet. So I knew she was talented. And to get into Berklee is incredible in itself.”
In the video, she is seen saying, “It’s okay if I don’t, it’s okay,” before opening and reading the email, and screaming with the good news it contains.
Before posting the video, Ms Wilson gave her permission for it go on the internet, but was struck by the public’s reaction, saying it was “crazy” and that it had opened a lot of doors and boosted her confidence.
Ms Maher said the video harnessed the positive side of social media.
“I love the power of social media. I always say that if we want to use it for good, we can. There is a very good side to it. And a lot of wonderful things are happening if we choose to focus on those things, and this is one of them,” she said.
Ms Maher is an active user of TikTok, sharing videos her life since losing her job due to the pandemic. Follow up videos include Ms Wilson singing other songs from requests from commenters, such as Reflection by Mulan.
The Independent reached out to Ms Maher and Ms Wilson for comment.