The incredible talent on NBC talent competition series America’s Got Talent this year brought some jaw-dropping, heartwarming and awe-inspiring musical performances.
And while the coronavirus pandemic led to a series of live shows from home or without an audience, that didn’t stop the contestants from bringing the emotion and undeniable talent to the socially distant stage.
While there were countless to choose from, see our favorite AGT performances below.
Archie Williams – Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”
The Louisiana native explained that he was in prison for 37 years on a false conviction tied to the 1982 rape and stabbing of a white woman. “I knew I was innocent. I didn’t commit a crime, but being a poor black kid I didn’t have the economic ability to fight the state of Louisiana at the trial,” Williams said.
He moved the judges (and Elton John himself) to tears with an emotional rendition of the icon’s 1974 hit.
Roberta Battaglia – Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful”
The Canadian singer wowed the judges with a cover of her compatriot’s self-love anthem. With powerful run in the bridge leading into an explosive final chorus, the performance proved that the 11-year-old’s talent stretches way beyond her years.
Daneliya Tuleshova – Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times”
The 14-year-old from Kazakhstan used her quarter finals moment in the spotlight to perform a gorgeous rendition of Styles’ global hit.
Voices of Our City Choir – “Sounds of the Sidewalk”
When the Voices of Our City Choir stepped on to the America’s Got Talent audition stage, the judges didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, the group of people spanning every race, age and gender had a special story.
A montage played, showcasing the members of the choir, who have experienced homelessness for a variety of years and have undergone heartbreaking traumas. “I thank God for Voices of Our City Choir. Somebody wants to hear from me, and I’ll be singing loud,” one member explains.
Terry Crews gave their inspiring original song, “Sounds of the Sidewalk,” a well-deserved golden buzzer.
Kenadi Dodds – Thomas Rhett’s “Be A Light”
Surrounded by lush greenery in her neighborhood, the teenage Utah native performed the song at the piano. The young singer is coached by her dad, a two-time Paralympian who shared with her the “importance of hard work and perseverance,” her biography reads.
Nolan Neal – Candi Staton’s “You’ve Got the Love”
The 39-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee’s heartfelt vocals tell his story of overcoming addiction and his father’s suicide. Performing at a campfire with an acoustic guitar, he spun Candi Staton’s disco classic “You’ve Got The Love” into a country song, warming hearts in the process.
“I think you’ve got great taste,” noted Simon Cowell. “You really did make it your own. You made it sound very current.”
“It feels very good to see the promises coming true of recovery,” Neal shared of the support he’s gotten online. “It feels amazing.”
Brandon Leake – Original Poetry
The high-school-English-teacher-turned-college-counselor made AGT history as the show’s first-ever poet.
He shared an inspiring poem about his younger sister’s death. “I have two facts for you/ One, I’m six feet tall/ And two, love is the most vulnerable thing one will ever have/ And you must learn to hold on to it loosely/ So when it leaves, it won’t exit so painfully,” he declared in the opening stanza.
Howie Mandel was moved, and gave the performance a standing ovation. The poem resonated with Sofia Vergara, whose brother passed away the same year as the poet’s sister.
Cowell ended up giving Leake a Golden Buzzer.
Sheldon Riley – Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”
The mysterious Australian singer chose crystal mask for the performance, and delivered a powerhouse, emotional rendition of the song.
Celina Graves – London Grammar’s “Strong”
The 30-year-old former star athlete performed a tear-jerking, soulful performance of the 2013 hit.
The powerful lyrics fit perfectly with Graves’ story, as if she’d written them herself. An injury during a high school basketball game ruined her chances of making it to the Olympics, and she refocused her energies in music. Safe to say she’s a lot stronger now.
Kodi Lee – Finneas’ “Break My Heart Again”
OK, so Kodi wasn’t a contestant this year, but the season 14 winner returned to the show to deliver one of his characteristically inspirational performances.