During Tuesday night’s episode of America’s Got Talent, a rare sighting happened on television: Long-standing TV show judge Simon Cowell shed a tear. During Season 18’s premiere episode, the Mzansi Youth Choir flew overseas from Johannesburg, South Africa, to showcase their talent and love for AGT.
The choir formed a small circle holding their heads down to begin the performance. When the lead stepped out and sang, “It’s OK,” Cowell and fellow judge Sofia Vergara looked surprisingly at each other before the camera panned to Howie Mandel, who looked shocked with his mouth open. As the choir continued to sing and dance across the stage, their voices were soothing and smooth, and they sang in beautiful melodies and harmonies. The audience and all four judges stood up when they finished singing, clapping in awe at their beautiful voices.
The judges were taken aback because the choir chose a song written by former AGT contestant Jane Kristen Marczewski, known as Nightbirde, from Season 16, who died from cancer in 2022.
The group shared that the song had been a “pillar of strength” for them. All the judges praised the choir for their tribute to their AGT family member, but Cowell’s feedback was unforgettable.
“This brought back so many memories for me. Gosh, she was…,” Cowell said before taking a deep breath as he choked up. “This is hard. Give me one second. I know how much this would have meant.”
He continued, “Right until the end, she was so passionate about sharing her music, and this has gone all over the world, and you’ve come back here with the most amazing tribute. It was just breathtaking, honestly.”
Following his comments, the crowd began to chant “Golden buzzer,” which has never been given out in the show’s history.
“I want to suggest something. We’ve never done this before. We’ve always discussed one day giving the audience something,” Cowell said.
The audience started screaming louder and chanting “Golden buzzer” again. Then, the show’s host, Terry Crews, ran to be a part of the special moment. He and the judges all touched hands to tap the golden buzzer together. Gold confetti burst all over the building as the youth choir hugged, jumped and kneeled in tears of joy and disbelief.
Watch the Mzansi Youth Choir’s touching performance below: