Amanda Mena may have been the last act to perform on the June 19 episode of “America’s Got Talent” but she was the first (and only) one to get the golden buzzer, which sent her straight through to the live shows. Before performing the Carole King classic “Natural Woman,” this soft-spoken 15-year-old girl admitted she was nervous. (Watch her audition video above.)
But when she sang, all trace of nerves was gone. Mena sounds like a singer who has been performing for years. Indeed, her homage to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, evoked memories of the Motown sound that ruled the charts in the 1960s.
After the audience stood and cheered, Howie Mandel called her a “supernatural talent.” Head judge Simon Cowell was equally wowed by this talented teen, praising her tenacity and telling her she has “genuine soul.” But before any of the judges could vote, Mel B slammed down the Golden Buzzer, skipping Mena straight to the live shows in Hollywood.
In his “AGT” live blog, our recapper John Benutty observed, “Closing out tonight’s show, Mena came to the mic to showcase her voice. As a young person who learned English as a second language, struggled to find a place among her schoolmates and found music as a way of escaping loneliness and learning to connect to the world. For her audition, sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” with clarity, maturity and in such a dynamic way that she’s comparable to the time Kelly Clarkson sang it on ‘American Idol’ many years ago.”