Singer Johnny Manuel blew the roof off of “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night as he belted out a cover of Whitney Houston‘s “I Have Nothing.” (Read our episode 5 recap here). The Flint, MI native actually got signed to a record label with he was 14 years old, though he confesses to the judges, “It did not work out.” Before performing, Manuel continues, “As a kid I thought that I was gonna take off and see the stars, and obviously it didn’t happen that way. I hope what can happen is that I’m finally able to be who I am and present myself and my music to the world.” Watch Johnny Manuel’s audition video above.
“Whitney hears you, honey,” says “AGT” host Tyra Banks during Manuel’s powerful audition as he hits the high notes of the song. When he was younger, Manuel toured with NSYNC but then one day was dropped from the label for apparently no reason. All of the judges — Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Mel B — jump to their feet at the conclusion of the performance, welcoming Manuel to this next chapter of his singing career.
“Oh. My. Gosh,” Mel B praises at the start of the judges’ critiques. “You are so powerful, and I know you’ve had a journey to get here but thank you, thank you, thank you for showing up.”
A gobsmacked Klum tells Manuel, “Gosh, this is not what it sounds like when I sing that song in the shower. You are incredible, it was so good.”
Cowell smiles, “I love the fact that little shy Johnnny is really a diva. I want to see a bit more of that. What’s great about you is you are somebody who can nail and sell a song.”
Mandel begins the voting with an enthusiastic yes, declaring, “You’re not gonna be surprised by my answer, but it’s a yes for me.” The other judges all chime in with yeses as well, sending Manuel through to the next round of “Americas Got Talent” Season 12.
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