"It's a song for anyone from anywhere who takes pride in where they come from," she tells PEOPLE

Brooke Moriber
Brooke Moriber
| Credit: Shervin Lainz

The morning began like every other morning for Brooke Moriber. The teenage actress best known up to that point for her work on Broadway woke up, walked to the bathroom, and wearily prepped to gaze at her reflection in the mirror.

But when she opened her eyes, she saw nothing.

"I couldn't see my face at all," Moriber, now in her mid-30s, tells PEOPLE in a recent interview. "I knew the mirror was there, but I couldn't see anything in it. And then I turned around and all I saw was blobs of color. It was this suffocating feeling of just falling into yourself. And I just fell on the floor, and I started screaming for my mom … and God."

Soon, Moriber would find herself at Mount Sinai's New York Eye and Ear Infirmary being diagnosed with uveitis pars planitis, a rare eye disease that would require high doses of chemotherapeutics and steroids to treat. And if she decided not to go with that treatment route, she risked going blind.

Suddenly, all her dreams seemed to dim.

But today, Moriber not only finds herself having conquered the effects of her disease but finds herself pursuing a career that she could once only dream of…a country music career that kicks off with her first release on Reviver Records, her new single "This Town Made Us."

"It's a song about hometown pride and resilience," she explains.

Growing up just across the street from Washington Square Park in the heart of Lower Manhattan, Moriber was exposed to all forms of music from a very early age, and always knew in her heart that she wanted to be some sort of performer.

"Singing was how I communicated as a child," remembers Moriber, whose mother worked professionally as an actress. "I begged my parents to let me start auditioning when I was really young."

Moriber did just that, scoring her first audition at just 8 years old, ultimately snagging the role of Young Cosette in Les Misérables on Broadway.

"The first performance that I had, I remember realizing the audience was there and I heard the music start and I almost ran off the stage," she says with a laugh. "The stage manager had to stop me. But once I started singing, it felt amazing."

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Brooke Moriber
| Credit: Shervin Lainz

Moriber would go on to play roles in a total of seven Broadway shows along with various television and film work on the side, some of which she did as she was still dealing with the repercussions of her eye disease.

"I had so many surgeries and laser treatments," she remembers. "There was one treatment where I had to be awake for it. And it was so painful. I was screaming and my parents were outside the door, banging on the door because they can hear him screaming and the doctor wouldn't let them in. It was a nightmare."

Moriber would soon find comfort in her journals, writing about her experiences but finding ways to take her pain and put it into songs. And soon, after a four-year battle with her eye disease, Moriber found herself in remission and armed with a very clear vision of who she wanted to be and how she was going to make it happen.

She moved to Nashville.

"I truly believe that music is what got me through to the other side," says Moriber, who has long been inspired by the likes of Jennifer Nettles, Ingrid Andress, Brandi Carlile, and her idol Linda Ronstadt.

Brooke Moriber
Brooke Moriber
| Credit: Shervin Lainz

And somewhere amongst the 884 miles between her home of New York City and her adopted home of Nashville, Moriber found herself. It's where she also found "This Town Made Us."

"I remember flying back to New York just a day before the tornados hit Nashville in March of 2020," Moriber recalls. "And then a week later, the pandemic ripped through New York City and that broke my heart too."

Three months later, "This Town Made Me" came to be, with Moriber and co-writers Bill DiLuigi and Cassandra Kubinski. pulling from Moriber's love and concern for her two hometowns.

"It's a song for anyone from anywhere who takes pride in where they come from," she concludes. "It's about faith and the human spirit. I think there's something inside of all of us that we don't realize how strong we really are."