America’s Got Talent 17th season launched on Tuesday, kickstarting the summer fun. (Read our Recap).
The show has a returning judges panel of Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, and Simon Cowell as well as host Terry Crews. The talent is as worldwide as ever. This has been a recent trend more and more as the show goes on and represents America as a melting pot of discovery rather than homegrown talent. The first golden buzzer recipient in audition episode 1 was American though and he was full of raw talent which is nice to see when so many acts are professionals.
A whirlwind of emotions
Twenty-one year old saxophonist Avery Dixon from Atlanta, Georgia was the audition to remember on premiere night. His performance was a whirlwind of emotions. Avery sat down for an interview with host Terry Crews and admitted that it wasn’t his choice to audition for AGT. His mom pushed him to sign up, insisting that he do it. Terry observes, “sometimes you have to let the people who believe in you, do their thing.” Avery’s mom is so proud of him.
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As he steps on stage, Heidi and Sofia tell him that they love his outfit. From the start, his responses are professional, including some witty remarks to Simon’s questions. For instance, Simon asks, “tell me what got you into this?” Avery explains that he was bullied in school for his voice sounding different and for his looks. Other students called him “hammerhead” due to the knots on his head, Also, he was mocked for his “airy” voice, a result of him being born prematurely at 1 pound, 8 ounces. This negativity led him to suicidal thoughts, which is when he decided to pick up the saxophone to try to take his mind off things and get out of a dark place.
Avery notes that he can’t practice where he lives now because of neighbor complaints. If he wins, he would improve this space, so he could practice, but also, to improve his mom’s and brother’s lives. Simon exclaims, “here you can be as loud as you like.” Avery asks for water and attempts to shake off his nerves. Soon after, he goes into song, playing a soulful rendition of Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” with accompaniment. It starts off well, but is a bit standard. As the performance goes on, it is more and more impressive. He hits some very high notes, and he puts his own spin on the classic. The judges and the crowd dance along, as his mom cheers him on. Avery’s audition ends in a standing ovation.
“You tell every bully you have a big brother named Terry Crews”
Heidi said it is impressive if you can get Howie to get up and dance. Howie adds, exclaiming, “I love you. I love you buddy.” Avery “will change the world,” Howie declares. “When you play with your instrument, you play with your heart,” Heidi adds. Sofia believes that “America is going to fall in love with you.” Avery’s story breaks Simon’s heart. He deems the bullies, “idiots.” Calling him “great,” Simon compares his playing to “listening to a singer.” As Simon gives Avery a yes, Terry dramatically enters the stage to to stop the voting and award the young musician with the season’s first golden buzzer. “You tell every bully, you have a big brother named Terry Crews who is here and has your back.” He adds that “all the bullies will have to watch you succeed.” Avery and his mom are in tears.
It is an empowering audition with high amounts of emotions, ending in a beautiful moment. It is sad that in the world we live in, people like Avery have to endure bullying. But it is moments like these that are pure and beautiful and show that there is hope. Avery has got talent, and I hope he goes far.
Overall, I thought the episode was a bit slow. The standouts other than Avery Dixon were comedian Mike E Winfield, yo-yo performer Shu Takada, and singing ventriloquist Celia Munoz (Watch her Audition). Honorable mentions go to heartthrob singer Lee Collinson and young animal trainer Amazing Veranica.