LOS ANGELES - A singer named Kodi Lee, who is blind and has autism, received a standing ovation after leaving the judges speechless during his performance on “America’s Got Talent.”
The 22-year-old played the piano and sang a rendition of “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway.
Before his jaw-dropping performance, Kodi walked on stage with the help of his mother and a white cane. They introduced themselves to judges Simon Cowell, Julianne Hough, Gabrielle Union and Howie Mandel.
Kodi’s mother, Tina Lee, said performing saved her son’s life.
“We found out that he loved music really early on. He listened and his eyes just went huge and he started singing. That’s when I was in tears because that’s when I realized – oh my gosh – he’s an entertainer,” she said. “Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world because when you’re autistic it’s really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually saved his life playing music.”
Tina then led her son to the piano on stage, where Kodi began his powerful rendition of the song.
At first the audience cheered, but within seconds the venue was silent as they raptly listened to Kodi sing. All the judges were stunned and Hough was moved to tears. Tina and the rest of Kodi’s family were off to the side of the stage with tears in their eyes.
As Kodi finished his song, the audience and judges gave him a standing ovation.
“I know everybody needs a voice and expression and I really feel your heart, your passion,” Hough said. “Your voice blew all of us away. I just want to say that I heard you and I felt you and that was beautiful.”
Cowell told Kodi that he had a beautiful voice and the performance was unforgettable.
“Your voice is absolutely fantastic. You have a really beautiful tone. Thank you so much for trusting us on this show. I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life,” he said.
Union spoke last and in the end gave Kodi “something special” by hitting her golden buzzer, which automatically sends him to the live show in Hollywood.
As the family celebrated Kodi’s achievement on stage, Union and the rest of the judges joined them to gave Kodi a hug.
In a Facebook video, Union said Kodi “slayed” the moment he started singing.
“I’ve never seen anyone nail it in the way that Kodi did. There was no way that he wasn’t getting my golden buzzer,” she said. “I’ve been saving my golden buzzer for just this moment. I wanted an act, I wanted a performer that was going to change the world.”