While countless “America’s Got Talent” auditions have brought the judges to tears and the audience to their feet, perhaps none have evoked such raw emotion in the hearts of America as contestant Kodi Lee.
The 22-year-old who is both blind and autistic initially captured the audience’s attention with his boyish charm and excitable nature prior to the audition — but nobody was ready for the magic that would unfold when he hit the piano.
“Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world,” Kodi’s mom, Tina, explained to the judges.
While music is undoubtedly a healing balm for Kodi’s soul, it was even more beautiful to see the way his God-given gifts have been a light and inspiration to others.
With his mom by his side on stage, Kodi delivered a riveting rendition of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You.”
The audience fell silent, judges’ mouths hung agape, and hot tears fell from the eyes of an emotional Julianne Hough.
“Everybody needs a voice and an expression, and I really feel your heart, your passion, your voice blew all of us away,” said Hough. “I just wanna say I heard you, and I felt you, and that was beautiful.”
And her sentiments were certainly echoed by judges Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, and the ever hard-to-impress Simon Cowell.
“What just happened there was really extraordinary,” said an awestruck Cowell. “I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
New mom Gabrielle Union couldn’t help but offer an extra special gift to the contestant who made a lasting impression on their hearts.
“I’m a new judge this season and I’m also a new mom this year,” said Union. “It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had, it’s also the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. You just want to give your kids the moon, the stars, and the rainbows. Tonight I’m giving you something special.”
She proceeded to slam the Golden Buzzer, showering Kodi and his tear-stained mama in shimmery confetti and the overwhelming affirmation that his voice was truly heard among a sea of many.
“You just changed the world,” remarked Union.