On the season premiere of ’America’s Got Talent,’ contestant Kodi Lee blew judges away with a performance that brought the entire room to their feet.
The 22-year old singer and pianist, who is both blind and autistic earned the “Golden Buzzer” for his moving rendition of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You.”
Lee was accompanied on stage by his mother Tina, who expressed just how much music has changed her son’s life.
“We found out that he loved music really early on,” said Lee’s mother. “Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world. Because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everyone else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music.”
AGT judge Gabrielle Union, who was brought to tears by Lee’s performance, instantly connected with Lee’s story.
“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,” Union told Kodi and Tina, referring to her daughter Kaavia with husband, Dwyane Wade.
“You just want to give your kids the moon, the stars, and the rainbows. Tonight, I’m going to give you something special,” the actress said, moments before pushing the Golden Buzzer.
Judges Julianne Hough, Howie Mandel, and Simon Cowell were in awe during Lee’s performance. Hough cried as she gave her feedback.
“I know everybody needs a voice and an expression. And I really feel that your heart, your passion, your voice blew all of us away. I just want to say: I heard you and I felt you, that was beautiful,” the dancer said.
For Cowell, who has earned his reputation for giving raw criticism to contestants, Lee’s performance was one he’ll never forget.
“What just happened there was extraordinary, I mean really extraordinary. I don’t know what it’s like to live in Kodi’s world. All I can tell is you obviously have an amazing relationship the two of you and your voice is absolutely fantastic,” Cowell said. “You have a really beautiful tone. Thank you so much for trusting us on this show. I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
As the first person this season to earn a “Golden Buzzer,” Lee will advance in the competition straight to the finals in Hollywood.