On his “America’s Got Talent” audition on June 19, Jeffrey Li won over head judge Simon Cowell even before he sang when he revealed that he’d spend some of the $1 million grand prize to buy a dog. This 13-year-old only child from Toronto says he wants a German Shepherd because “it would play with me all day, and I would love that.” Hearing this, the curmudgeonly Cowell broke into a big smile as he loves animals more than people. He promised Li that if he did well with his audition, “I’m gonna buy you a dog. We’ll choose one together.”
Backstage, Li revealed that he was surprised by this offer. “When Simon told me that he was going to buy me a dog, it felt kind of weird.” He readily admits in the video above that “it was the last thing I expected Simon to say.”
This confident teen surprised all of the judges with his soaring rendition of the power ballad “You Raise Me Up.” This song was made famous in the US by Josh Groban and in Cowell’s native UK by the Irish group Westlife. By the end of his performance, he had the whole audience, led by Cowell, cheering him on to hit that final high note.
The other three “AGT” judges were just as enthusiastic as Cowell. Howie Mandel said he was “a young male Celine Dion” while Mel B likened his voice to that of an angel. Heidi Klum teased, “Jeffrey, I think you might be getting a puppy from Simon” and Cowell confirmed this: “Jeffrey, I think this was an amazing audition, so I’m gonna keep my promise. Not only have you got four yeses, you’ve got yourself a new dog.”
In his “AGT” live blog, our recapper John Benutty observed, “That a voice that big comes out of a boy is beyond belief and that was written all over their faces. Howie complimented his talent and poise and Simon said the stakes couldn’t have been higher for him, choosing to sing one of the biggest songs in the world.”