Get your tissues ready, because “America’s Got Talent” has anointed its newest Golden Buzzer act: an 11-year-old violinist named Tyler Butler-Figueroa.
Soon after Tyler was diagnosed with leukemia, he was bullied at school for being different. “When I play the violin, it helps me forget about all the bad stuff,” he revealed during Tuesday night’s episode. “I just didn’t want to be the kid with cancer, so now I’m the kid who plays the violin.” Following his performance of Kelly Clarkson‘s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” judge Simon Cowell was so touched that he slammed his hand down on his Golden Buzzer, sending Tyler straight through to the live shows. Watch the “AGT” performance video above and read the judges’ comments below.
After the performance Simon inquired about Tyler’s health and the talented tyke responded that he’s “been in remission for almost four years.” That prompted a wild cheer from the audience and fellow judges Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough.
Simon called him an “extraordinary young man,” adding, “We hear too many stories about people being bullied and I can tell you one thing: most people are bullied because they’re better than the people who bully them. I think you have such an amazing talent, such a personality, and I would like to say something on your behalf to the bullies.” Simon then pressed the Golden Buzzer, covering the young man in confetti.
“I feel very proud of myself and very happy,” Tyler tearfully said to “America’s Got Talent” host Terry Crews. After Tyler walked off the stage, the crowd of thousands continued shouting his name over and over. Tyler will next appear at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood when the live shows begin.
In his “AGT” live blog, our recapper John Benutty had this to say about the performance: “For the final audition of tonight’s show, 11 year old Tyler Butler-Figueroa came out with his violin which he’s been playing since he was 7. As he told the judges, Tyler began playing the violin as a way of combating bullying at school due to his Leukemia that he was diagnosed with at the age of 4. In his performance he gave a lively performance of Kelly Clarkson‘s hit song ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’ and had the entire room on their feet. It was clear that the judges were going to send Tyler through to the next round, but that wasn’t enough of a statement for Simon and so he decided to hit the golden buzzer and send the very talented Tyler straight through to the live shows!”