Judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Simon Cowell, along with host Terry Crews found six spectacular acts to send straight to the live shows
The ultimate “America’s Got Talent” honor is rarely bestowed. But when it is, there’s few things as thrilling in all of reality-competition television. Here, we break down each Golden Buzzer act from the show’s 16th season.
Northwell Health Nurse Choir (June 1)
What makes this choir of 18 from New York so special is that they’re all frontline nurses. “The hardest part was seeing these patients alone. They couldn’t have their families with them, so we stepped in as their family,” one of its members said.
Taking the stage, nurse Winnie Mele said, “We know that there is a lot of us out there that are still hurting, and we’re hoping to just shoot out some joy and some love, and to let them know that we found our resilience — and we’re hoping that they do as well.”
Opening with an inspirational “Stand by Me,” their energy level quickly kicked up with a crescendo and transitioned to “We All Need Somebody to Lean On,” bringing the audience to their feet. “One word comes to mind, and it’s ‘heroic,” Howie Mandel said. And with that, he gave them the Golden Buzzer.
Nightbirde (June 8)
“It’s OK.” That was the original song Jane Marczewski – aka Nightbirde when she sings – told the judges she’d be performing for them. When Mandel asked what was “OK,” she said, “It’s OK” is the story of the last year of my life…I have not been working for quite a few years. I’ve been dealing with cancer.”
Cowell pressed further, asking how she was now. She answered stoically, “Last time I checked, I had some cancer in my lungs and my spine and my liver.” Their concern for the 30-year-old from Ohio washed over their faces. “It’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me,” she said.
And then she sang. When she was done, the audience was silent. And they stood and burst into thunderous applause.
Authentic, powerful, absolutely stunning, the judges said. “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy,” Nightbirde said. Cowell took that in and wiped back a tear and slapped the Golden Buzzer.
World Taekwondo Demonstration Team (June 15)
Although invited to perform at the Tokyo Olympics, the COVID pandemic dashed that opportunity and, instead, they ended up on “AGT.” The non-stop action and excitement began with one man taking on 11 challengers all at once in a fight. They rushed at him, and one by one, he tossed them aside, flying high in the air and kicking boards in half that they held.
The audience cheered and the judges looked shocked as the broken boards and wood chips made it all the way to their tables. “I have goosebumps,” “I love it!” “Dang! Whoa! Look at them!” the judges shouted over the music.
And then it got into some serious action. As a half-dozen men held wood boards on extensions super high in the air, one man ran and literally flew across the room and kicked them all. It just kept getting more and more remarkable. (You really need to watch the video below.)
It was so spectacular that Terry Crews came out of the stage wings and marched down to the judges’ table. “You were not able to make it to the Olympics and get a gold medal, but I am going to give you something golden right now!” And he did.
Jimmie Herrod (June 22)
When the singer from Portland, Oregon, was asked what song he was going to performing for them and he said “Tomorrow” from “Annie,” Cowell said, “Are you serious? Do you know that is my worst song in the world.” Klum gasped and the audience booed. “You should do another song,” Cowell continued. But Herrod didn’t have another.
With that mood killer hanging over his head, Herrod began. He not only proved Cowell wrong, he wowed him and the cheering crowd. “Wow, wow, wow. It’s not my worst song anymore,” Cowell laughed.
“I have to say that I didn’t like it that much,” Vergara said with a long face. “But I LOVED it!” Golden Buzzer time.
Léa Kyle (June 29)
There have been quick-change acts on “AGT” before, but the French-born former beautician has got to the quickest. With one flick of her wrist behind a curtain, she transformed from an all-black outfit to a blue mini dress in a nano-second. Strutting across the stage to the beat of the music and to a rack of clothes, she picked up two dress, put them in front of her and quickly pulled them away again. Poof, another outfit. And it went on, clothes would fall off her revealing another underneath or literally fly off a rack and onto her body in a blink.
The audience – the judges – were amazed and a little perplexed by what they saw. “You were doing real magic,” Klum said. “It was absolutely incredible and flawless. I mean, you know how much I love fashion, and I feel like we’ve never really had anyone that is as good as you.” Klum stood and smacked the buzzer.
Victory Brinker (July 6)
A little girl with a very, very big voice left the judges totally awestruck and, ultimate, made “AGT” history. Before she walked onto the stage, the judges noticed that a bird had made it into the auditorium. “That is a lucky sign,” Cowell said. And boy was he right.
When that first powerful operatic note from “Juliet’s Waltz” came out of the 9-year-old’s mouth, the judges were stunned. Their eyes opened wide in shock as she went on. It was like this tiny girl was channeling the spirit and talent of a seasoned adult opera star.
Her reaction to cheers and applause transported her back into a child’s body. And that lucky bird flew onto the stage and sat on one of the amplifiers.
Cowell called Crews to the judges’ table, and the five of them conferred with their mics turned down. Turning to Victory, Cowell said, “We’re gonna do something else we’ve never, ever, ever done on the show before. We’re all going to give you something special.” With that, he counted down “five, four, three, two, one,” and they all hit the buzzer together.
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