‘America’s Got Talent’ episode 6 recap: Which act earns Howie Mandel’s golden buzzer in first ever night of auditions without an audience? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

“America’s Got Talent” season 15 continues on June 30 with another two-hour episode showcasing the best (and worst) auditions. In this phase of “AGT,” an act needs at least three of the four judges (Simon Cowell, Heidi KlumHowie Mandel and Sofia Vergara) to give them a “yes” vote to advance to the next round. If two or more judges buzz the act, it is immediately eliminated.

Each judge, along with host Terry Crews, has one chance to hit the “golden buzzer” and send an act straight through to the live performances. Terry was inspired to press his golden buzzer on the season 15 premiere by the performance of the Voices of Our City Choir. Their mission is to serve the homeless community of San Diego. In their audition they sang “Sounds of the Sidewalk,” an original tune written and produced through their songwriting clinic. In the second episode, new judge Vergara made it rain gold for 10-year-old Roberta Battaglia who delivered a stunning rendition of Lady Gaga‘s “Shallow” with her mature-for-her-age voice. Then, on the third episode, Heidi sent singer Cristina Rae straight to the live shows as her golden buzzer act. Simon hit the button for WAFFLE Crew, naming them his favorite audition of the season.

SEE Where are the first 14 ‘America’s Got Talent’ winners now: Find out what happened to your favorites

Below, follow along as we recap all the action on “America’s Got Talent” Season 15 Episode 6 in our minute-by-minute blog.

8:01 p.m. – Tonight a lot is different, while some things are slightly the same. For one, Eric Stonestreet is back for part of the episode to fill in for a still sick Heidi. But as this set of auditions came at the same time the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfurl, the audience is not present and so the acts will perform for just the judges and Terry in what Simon tells them is a more realistic audition anyway.

8:03 p.m. – The first act to take the stage on this weird night was the CA Wildcats cheer squad. Prior to their audition the group explained to the judges that they don’t cheer for a school, but rather as a club in their spare time and they have a wide range in ages. They were actually a wonderful starter to this episode because it’s their career to create a sense of energy and excitement out of nothing… like an empty auditorium. Because of their athleticism and tricks, the judges loved their performance as well as their ambition and so it was an easy and unanimous vote to send them through to the next round!

8:10 p.m. – Next up was 12 year old pianist Jacob Velazquez who came to the stage with his vision board, a presentation of what he hoped to achieve in his audition. Jacob has PDDNOS, a disorder like Aspergers that impairs his communication skills. One of his hopes in being on AGT is to show that even people with disorders can inspire and achieve great things. Turns out that Jacob had more to present than just a lovely original song from the piano! After he concluded on the piano he disappeared behind a curtain and revealed himself as a multitalented musician that can also rock out on the drum set! Both Howie and Simon referred to Jacob as a prodigy and said he has great showmanship. Needless to say, we’ll be seeing Jacob again in the next round!

8:22 p.m.Michael Yo was next to audition who was a news reporter that has interviewed all of the judges before on the set of his E! show, but is now a stand up comedian. To do comedy in front of only four judges and no audience must be very hard, but luckily Michael was able to squeeze laughs out of all of them with his set about the frustrations of age and especially about the importance of a good night’s sleep. As a comic himself, Howie said he has great rhythm and a great voice. Once the compliments rolled in from the rest of the judges Michael fell into a puddle of tears at the surprise amount of love he was receiving and with the judges sending him on to the next round!

8:33 p.m. – Terry was excited for the Brothers Gage audition because he’d never seen young people interested in playing the harmonica. While they are at AGT now, their ultimate goal is to play at the Super Bowl and/or the Grammys! They made it clear that they play other instruments as well, but they chose their original harmonica song tonight because they feel it’s what sets them apart as musicians. Howie and Sofia gave the brothers a standing ovation even though Sofia was dreading the performance the second she heard it was harmonicas. Eric and Simon also loved it and so joined the other two for four yes votes.

8:43 p.m. – Continuing with more music acts, Shevon Nieto took the stage to sing one of her original songs “Through the Good and the Bad” that she wrote for her husband, a former Olympic track star just like her who suffered an injury that paralyzed him for life. It was a beautiful song that warmed the hearts of the judges. Sofia loved that it was a meaningful song that when paired with her voice showed her love and what a great person she is. So that was another easy four yes votes for the judges to give her a second audition in the next round!

SEE ‘America’s Got Talent’ judges rankings: All 13 judges ranked from worst to best

8:57 p.m. – Howie was not a fan of the next act, Rob “The Marquise” Messel, buzzing him quickly into his air guitar performance. When he got on the their table and continued his audition, Simon and Eric also buzzed him, but Sofia waited for him to get back on stage before buzzing him completely off the stage.

8:58 p.m. – Cello player Elijah was lucky enough to follow The Marquise, but he really didn’t need the bar to be set so low because the judges adored his audition to Ariana Grande‘s hit “7 Rings.” Sofia really liked how much joy Elijah was having because it was clear in his performance style. Simon didn’t like the song choice, but said that it means he’ll be able to grow into his potential in the next audition that he and the other judges are giving him!

9:09 p.m.Anthem and Aria loved talking about all the reasons why they love each other, but not as much as all the ways that the mystical quality of life brought them together as a couple. Simon was so confused by their cabaret style magic act that he instantly buzzed them because of the lackluster magic and the meh singing. Howie and Sofia also buzzed them off because of the lack of magic, leaving only Eric to defend them, but he wasn’t a fan either.

9:14 p.m. – The next surprise came in the form of Jim and John who started their audition as stage sweepers while the judges were still talking amongst themselves. They ended up tearing each other’s clothes off and doing some “tricks” and “dancing” with the brooms, but Simon and Sofia weren’t keen. With both of them buzzing them and Eric and Howie both sayin no, they were sent packing as well.

9:21 p.m. – By the time Kenadi Dodds took the stage the judges were primed to love an audition again. With the dream of being a country singer, and wanting to perform for her family who in entirety is losing their sight, Kenadi performed her original song “One Way Ticket to Tennessee.” The song about chasing dreams earned a standing ovation from the four judges, all of whom were impressed by the songwriting and the message of it. Howie was particularly taken by the transformation of Kenadi the person speaking to them and Kenadi the performer. All in all, they each loved her very much and elected to send her on to sing again in the next round.

9:31 p.m.Vadim‘s highly stylized magic/clown act wasn’t impressive to Simon or Sofia who buzzed him mid-performance and Howie was very confused by what the act even was. Comedian Crystal Powell was much better at getting her point across in her audition. Her comedy takes more of a storytelling structure than some other comics which allowed her to get her personality and across and to show off her ability to do many voices. Simon said that she’s “naturally funny” from the second she came on and Eric loved the physicality and uniqueness in her performance quality. So, with all that support she earned four yes votes to the next round!

9:42 p.m. – At this point, Eric cut out early for a prior commitment and so we were left with just the three judges for the last couple of auditions. The first to show the threesome his talent was Wesley Williams, who came to AGT after already appearing on “Britain’s Got Talent.” He’s a unicyclist, but considers himself to be on the more extreme side of the sport. In his audition he hopped up and down stairs, jumped rope and even juggled knives while balancing on a super high unicycle. But in his most daring act he rode on a unicycle as tall as the entire stage! Howie clarified that unicyclists from the past were more clownish and he enjoyed that this was more of a daring act. He became one of three yes votes to send him through!

9:52 p.m. – The final audition of the night came from Brandon Leake, a counselor from Stockton in California. Brandon was the first ever spoken word poet to perform on the show and he has dreams of putting on his own large scale one man show. His poem tonight was inspired and in honor of his sister who passed away. The poem was about love, pain and memory and brought tears to everyone, especially Sofia who coincidentally lost her brother in the same year that Brandon lost his sister. Simon wasn’t familiar with spoken word poetry, but he found it extraordinary and impossible to judge something like that. Howie thought it was amazing that it was the first time they’ve had spoken word on the show and because of the raw feeling of his performance hit the golden buzzer! That sends Brandon straight through to the live shows for his next performance! And instead of hugs the panel came to the stage to give elbow taps to Brandon. Love that!

More News from GoldDerby