A blind and autistic contestant received the coveted Golden Buzzer last night on America’s Got Talent, sending him straight to the Hollywood live show.
22-year-old Kodi Lee, from Lake Elsinore, California, was accompanied onstage by his mum Tina. Speaking to producers before his audition, Kodi said he was ‘happy-nervous’.
However, as he sat at the piano and started to perform his version of Donny Hathaway’s 1971 tune A Song For You, Kodi’s nerves visibly dissipated as he lost himself in the song.
Before the performance, Kodi’s mum Tina explained to the judges – Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Gabrielle and Juliannne Hough – that her son was blind and autistic, but music was his great passion.
We found that he loved music really early on. He listened and his eyes just went huge. He started singing, and I was in tears… that’s when I realised – he’s an entertainer.
The crowd and judges were silent during Kodi’s performance, but erupted into cheers and applause as he finished the song, with everyone giving him a standing ovation.
With the rest of his family watching from the wings, Kodi’s mum walked back onstage, saying ‘That’s all for you, baby’, referring to the huge cheers from the crowd.
Judge Julianne said:
I know everybody needs a voice and an expression. Your passion and your voice blew all of us away. I just want to say I heard you, and I felt you, and that was beautiful.
While Simon Cowell said:
What just happened there was extraordinary. I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.
However, it was new judge Gabrielle who was most moved by Kodi’s performance.
I’m a new judge this season, and I’m also a new mom this year. It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had, and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. You just want to give your kids the moon, the stars and the rainbows… and tonight, I’m gonna give you something special.
With that, Gabrielle pushed the golden buzzer, sending Kodi straight through to the live show in Hollywood, and putting him in with a chance to win the show’s $1 million prize, and the opportunity to headline a show in Las Vegas.
You can watch the moment here:
Kodi Lee is a STAR. 🌟💛🌟pic.twitter.com/AVATsIlRAm
— NBC Entertainment (@nbc) May 29, 2019
The emotional moment took place during the season premiere of America’s Got Talent. As Gabrielle hit the Golden Buzzer, Kodi’s mum and the rest of the his family ran onstage to embrace him, with golden confetti falling around them.
With such an emotional start to the series, who knows what the live final holds in store!
America’s Got Talent returns on Tuesday, June 4, on NBC.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.