It took three songs for 12-year old Ashley Marina to impress Simon Cowell on Tuesday’s fourth episode of “America’s Got Talent,” but the young singer from Pittsburgh would not be denied. After nearly being sent home, Ashley was asked to leave the stage and prepare a new song. When she finally returned, Ashley revealed she would perform her own original — an anthem dedicated to her father that nearly brought Simon and his fellow judges Sofia Vergara and Howie Mandel to tears. Watch Ashley’s audition above.
“I do a lot of school talent shows,” Ashley told the camera prior to her audition. “I love to sing with my best friend. Her name is Coco (the guinea pig). She can hit whistle tones like Mariah Carey. I’m really excited to see myself on the show!”
Simon and Ashley bonded over their love of guinea pigs before the Pittsburgh native launched into her audition song, “Anyway,” an inspirational ballad by Martina McBride. Halfway through the song Simon halted the audition and stated, “That backing track was very overbearing. Can we hear the second song a cappella so we get to hear your voice a little more clearly?”
Ashley wasn’t derailed by the request and launched into a second song only to be stopped by Simon once again. “Do you want my honest opinion?” he asked. “I think you brought the wrong songs with you today. It’s very difficult for me to actually judge you on that.” As the audience began loudly booing, Sofia piped in, “Can’t we give her another chance?” After thinking about it, Simon instructed Ashley to go pick another song by a male artist and make it her own rather than what she was doing, which was “a bit karaoke.”
After hours of reviewing songs backstage, Ashley wasn’t comfortable with anything the crew was suggesting for her. At the last minute, she decided to defy Simon and come back with an original song about her dad. As she launched into the song about a father’s love, the audience began cheering and Simon perked up. When she hit the chorus tears began streaming down faces in the crowd and Sofia’s jaw dropped in disbelief.
The triumphant return was met with a standing ovation. “That’s the biggest gift you can give a father,” Howie said after Ashley finished. Sofia added, “I love this new song. It was fantastic.” Finally, Simon gave his stamp of approval, stating, “I think we finally met Ashley.” Her dad joined her on stage to wrap a bow on this emotional audition and host Terry Crews exclaimed, “You just made the Father’s Day anthem of the year!”