‘America’s Got Talent’ judge Howie Mandel: Golden Buzzer singer Courtney Hadwin is next Darci Lynne Farmer

“America’s Got Talent” judge Howie Mandel is convinced that he has found this year’s winner with 13-year-old singer Courtney Hadwin. After watching her rock the house in her audition with a scorching rendition of the Otis Redding classic “Hard to Handle,” he hit the Golden Buzzer to send her straight through to the season 13 “AGT” live shows. As he declared backstage, “I have never been more excited in my life.”

Last year, his rival judge Mel B used her turn at the buzzer after being captivated by the performance of ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer. That talented tyke went on to win season 12. A year after the Golden Buzzer was introduced on season 10 of “AGT,” Mandel had used it to single out Grace VanderWaal, a singer who accompanied herself on the ukelele; she went on to take the “AGT” title.

Mandel is confident that Hadwin can follow in their footsteps. “I watched a caterpillar come out of its cocoon and become the most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen. If you like classic music that spans the ages, Courtney is the girl!”

Our live-blogger John Benutty was equally impressed with Hadwin’s audition. As he noted, “Courtney erupted into a surprising rock performance that knocked everyone’s socks off. Howie was blown away by her, comparing her to Janis Joplin and saying that Janis was signed on the spot by Clive Davis, but since he isn’t Clive Davis the best thing he could do for her right now is hit his Golden Buzzer! That means Courtney has a huge boost of confidence on her way straight through to the live shows!”

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