Willie Nelson Shouts Out Family Friend Lily Meola on Emotional ‘America’s Got Talent’ Performance

by Leanne Stahulak

While “America’s Got Talent” star Lily Meola got her second big break during the competition earlier this week, her first chance to make it big came when she wowed Willie Nelson with her voice almost a decade ago.

During her “America’s Got Talent” audition, Meola mentioned how she signed a record deal several years ago. But the deal fell through when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and Meola became her full-time caretaker. What Meola didn’t mention at the time was that toured and sang with Willie Nelsen early in her career.

According to Yahoo! Entertainment, Meola grew up in Hawaii. As a teen, she earned herself a weekly residence at Cafe des Amis in Paia, per the outlet. It helped that her mom, Nancy Meola, was the assistant to entertainment manager Shep Gordon. So she helped Lily Meola book the gig. But one night, Nelson happened to be in the audience as Meola sang.

The “America’s Got Talent” contestant went on to tour with the country star and duet on his album “To All the Girls” in 2013. A few years later, she signed with Interscope Records. That same year, in 2016, Meola’s mom received her cancer diagnosis.

Her debut album, “They Say,” never made it out into the world. But it was supposed to feature collaboration with Nelson, his sons Lukas and Michah, and Kris Kristofferson. For her “America’s Got Talent” audition, Meola sang her EP “Daydream,” which moved all the judges.

In fact, the judges all loved her performance and story so much that Heidi Klum awarded Meola with this season’s last Golden Buzzer. She advances directly to the live shows, which start airing on Aug. 2.

Willie Nelson Congratulates Lily Meola on Her ‘America’s Got Talent’ Golden Buzzer

When Willie Nelson saw Lily Meola’s success on “America’s Got Talent,” he wasted no time in sharing the video of her audition.

“Congratulations @lilymeolamusic,” Nelson wrote. You can hear Meola’s story and watch her performance in the video below.

The “America’s Got Talent” judges also celebrated Meola’s success. Heidi Klum shared the audition video and wrote, “[email protected] I can’t wait for the world to fall in love with you like I have.”

Fellow judge Sofia Vergara also took to Twitter to say, “TEARS!!! [Congratulations!]”

Vergara awarded her Golden Buzzer not too long ago. She pressed it in honor of the Lebanese dance group the Mayyas, who will join Meola at the live shows on Aug. 2. Terry Crews awarded his Golden Buzzer to saxophonist Avery Dixon. Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell both gave their Golden Buzzers to young singers. Mandel shocked 11-year-old Madison Baez a few weeks back, while Cowell gave his Buzzer to 13-year-old Sara James.