That performance came from Ava Swiss, an 18-year-old high school senior from Oxford, Michigan. Before her performance, a message displayed saying her audition was recorded “prior to the recent string of tragic mass shootings across the country.”
Before singing “Remember” by Lauren Daigle, Swiss opened up about surviving a shooting at Oxford High School last year, which left four of her fellow students dead and seven wounded, including a teacher.
Cowell asked Swiss how she’s been coping since the tragedy.
“It’s been hard,” replied the teen. “I remember my brother and I, we were talking to each other, and we said there’s no way we were ever stepping foot back in the school. But we’ve actually been in person in school for about two months now, so things are getting better.”
Swiss said she chose to sing “Remember” because it reminds her of positivity amid darkness.
“When I sing it, I remember the good. I remember my community, my family, just the love, and I remember that it’s all there for me, and it will help me get to where I need to be.”
The teen delivered a moving performance, thanks to her soaring vocals and powerful belt. Heidi Klum called Swiss “so special,” and Sofía Vergara said the contestant “took my breath away” and “gave me goosebumps.”
“The fact that you can break through that and shine in the way that you did today is so inspirational for every human being,” added Howie Mandel.
Swiss even won over the notoriously hard-to-please Cowell.
“You are gutsy,” he said. “This is one of those auditions I’ll never forget. I really have so much respect for you.”
Swiss earned a yes from all four judges, moving her to the next round.
Simon Cowell thought Freckled Zelda was going to be ‘terrible.’ Then she sang
When a singer going by the name Freckled Zelda strutted onto the stage dressed like a character directly out of “The Legend of Zelda” video game series, complete with prosthetic ears and all, and professed herself to be a “fairy,” she earned more than just a few snickers from the audience.
But skeptical viewers’ smirks were quickly wiped away when she started singing “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas.” She finished her beautiful performance in tears.
“When you walked out, I thought, ‘This really is going to be terrible,’ ” Cowell confessed. “Actually, you’ve got a really good voice. … Carry on looking like that if you want, because you’re interesting.”
Freckled Zelda assured him she doesn’t plan on dropping the fairy schtick any time soon.
Klum agreed she loves that the contestant is “unique and different” while Mandel applauded her for showing her true self through her “voice” and “being.”
All four judges said “yes.”
RCC Aruba member flies through flaming hoop while blindfolded
With a show with as many moving parts as “AGT,” things are bound to occasionally go wrong.
That’s exactly what happened to RCC Aruba, who told the judges before their act that many of their props and equipment were lost while traveling.
And that’s a pretty big problem when your act involves risking serious injury… or worse.
The group thought they wouldn’t be able to go on but decided to persist with borrowed equipment.
Despite the hiccup, the group captivated the judges as they flung each other high into the air using a teeter totter. The act ended with one member donning a blindfold while getting launched off the teeter totter and through a flaming hoop.
When he landed safely through the hoop without getting burned, the whole crowd leaped to their feet (minus a grumpy Cowell).
“Now that’s a Vegas act!” host Terry Crews exclaimed from offstage.
“It was thrilling. It was exciting. It was energy. You guys blew my mind with this,” said Mandel.
Cowell hinted that the equipment mix-up may have actually played to the group’s benefit.
“The fact that it felt less polished than we normally see, I really enjoyed that,” he said. “I thought it was really cool.”
The group earned a yes from all four judges.
Howie Mandel tries not to ‘throw up’ while assisting the ‘Beetlejuice of sideshows’
Tuesday’s episode also saw an act squeamish audience members will want to turn away from.
That act came from Auzzy Blood, a sword swallower who told Cowell he thinks he has enough determination to win the show.
“I have the potential to win, just because I push my limits farther than a lot of other people do,” he said.
And boy was he putting it mildly.
The crowd watched (or recoiled) as Blood appeared to drop multiple swords down his throat, including a long, curved one. When he asked for a volunteer, the audience offered Mandel as tribute, against the judge’s wishes.
As Mandel stuck a sword down Blood’s throat, he vouched for the act’s authenticity.
“It’s stuck. Something’s stuck,” he said while pushing the sword deeper down Blood’s throat. “I feel it. I’m touching things.”
Mandel undoubtedly spoke for many viewers when he muttered that he was “gonna throw up” while walking back to the judge’s table.
“You are like the Beetlejuice of sideshows,” he added. “And for that, I’m gonna give you a yes.”
The rest of the judges agreed, sending Blood through to the next round.