When Courtney Hadwin took the stage on Tuesday’s America’s Got Talent, the judges didn’t know what to make of the likeable yet incredibly shy young woman who stood before them.
The 13-year-old aspiring singer bashfully admitted that she was “a little bit nervous” as judge Mel B asked her how she was feeling, and she giggled awkwardly when asked questions about her favorite subjects in school.
Before she sang, Hadwin’s father explained that his daughter was so shy and reclusive she had a hard time talking with people or making friends, and communicated best through her singing.
However, when it came time to actually audition, no one was expecting the kind of performance the shy teenage AGT hopeful was going to pull out.
Standing motionlessly at the back of the stage, Hadwin quietly gestures for the music to kick in, and the judges were somewhat surprised when the opening chords of “Hard to Handle” by Otis Redding rang out through the theater.
Then, Hadwin opened her mouth and showed off just how big a voice the small teen truly had, delivering a flamboyant and energetic rendition of the iconic tune that absolutely blew away everyone in the audience.
From the first moment Hadwin began to sing, judge Simon Cowell was absolutely floored, and he had nothing but praise for the amazing songstress after her performance.
“Bloody hell, Courtney. You’re like this shy little thing when you first came out. And then you sing, and you’re like a lion,” Cowell marveled. “I mean, genuinely, incredible.”
However, it was Howie Mandel who was really impressed by the performance. The judge marveled, “You are not from this era. You’re from a whole different era.”
Mandel went on to recount the story of Clive Davis discovering Janice Joplin at the Monterey Pop Festival, and signing her to a contract that went on to launch her into superstardom.
“I’m not Clive Davis, I’m Howie Mandel. The only thing I can do for you, young lady, is give you…” Mandel shared, as he leaned over to smack the coveted Golden Buzzer, sending her directly to the live rounds of the competition.
Hadwin openly wept with joy as the golden confetti rained down from the rafters, and was embraced in a big hug by her proud father, who had been watching his daughter perform from the wings of the stage.
Before hitting the America’s Got Talent stage, Hadwin previously competed on The Voice Kids UK, where she made it to the final rounds of competition.
America’s Got Talent returns for its fourth night of auditions next Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.