During a recent commercial break while taping an episode of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” an 11-year-old girl who was sitting in the audience wowed the show’s judges and won the hearts of audience members with her powerful rendition of the classic hymn “Amazing Grace.”
It’s a standing custom by the show’s producers to give some audience members an opportunity to sing during the show’s breaks for commercials.
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Madison Taylor Baez, who was actually slated to be a contestant, was watching the taping with her dad, Chris. According to the show’s host, Terry Crews, she had been placed in the audience in order to trick judges Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel just to see if they noticed.
And to say they noticed is an understatement.
Baez held up her hand and a man came over and handed her a microphone. She then belted out the song with her powerful voice, surprising the audience and the judges.
Mandel, who was sitting at the judge’s table, heard Baez’s voice and turned around to get a better look. Cowell, who also serves as the show’s executive producer, was walking back on set and was amazed by the voice he heard.
The audience then began chanting for the girl to go up on stage. Cowell asked Baez her name, how old she was, and who she was with. After getting the thumbs up from her dad, Cowell allowed her to go up on the stage.
“We do ask people in the breaks if they’d like to sing a song and I was literally just coming back in and I heard this voice, thinking, ‘Who…is that?'” Cowell told Baez. “And then I see this little thing in the audience, and it’s you.”
Baez explained she has been to many tapings of the show and has dreamed of auditioning for several years.
“I’ve been to many tapings, and ever since I was 4 years old, I would always try and sing for the commercial breaks,” the talented youngster said. “And it’s always been my dream to be on the show. And I’m finally here.”
“Sorry, I’m just kind of freaking out right now,” Baez said as she burst into tears.
After being let in on the ruse, Cowell asked the young girl if she would like to audition.
“Madison, you don’t need a track or anything,” he said. “Why don’t you do what you just did?”
After taking a few moments to compose herself, Taylor then sang one verse of the song, that brought the audience to their feet. Motioned to go on by Cowell, Baez continued singing another verse.
When she finished, the audience and the judges jumped to their feet, giving the girl a thunderous standing ovation as the young girl began to cry once again.
“I’m not kidding, in all the years we’ve ever done this, this has never happened before,” Cowell said. “I mean, I normally leave during the break because people do sing.”
“But this is actually the opposite,” he said amid the audience’s laughter from his joke. “It actually brought me back into the room.”
Mandel asked her what she would do with a million dollars if she won the competition. She replied, “I would help my dad with cancer research. He has stage 4 colon cancer for the past nine years. So I would help him with that.”
With the audience chanting “Golden Buzzer, ” Mandel leaped from his chair and walked to the middle of the judge’s table, and pressed the golden buzzer. The young girl will now go on to perform on the live shows.
As the golden confetti was falling on the stage, Mandel went up to give the young girl a hug and asked her dad to join them.
Agreeing with Vergara’s assessment that this was just “the start” for the young girl, Cowell said, “I agree. I mean, that was magic. And good for you. You’re gutsy. And you’ve got a great, great, great voice.”
Baez’s dad Chris explained that his daughter learned to sing during his long cancer battle.
“I’ve been battling cancer for the last nine years, and that’s how she learned to sing,” Chris said. “She would sing to me at the hospital throughout my surgeries, throughout my chemo treatments. She’d sing to me and helping me get better, and I’m doing very well.”
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