‘America’s Got Talent’ Judge Howie Mandel Speaks Out About Youngest Contestant’s Emotional Performance

by Tia Bailey

America’s Got Talent” is currently in their live shows for this season, and it has been a season packed with talent. From a record six golden buzzer auditions to a new live show setup, the show has had a crazy season. Judge Howdie Mandel reacted to this season’s youngest contestant’s emotional performance.

Mandel spoke to ET about contestant Maddie, and her golden buzzer performance as well as her live show performance. Mandel was the judge who had given her the golden buzzer, sending her straight to the live shows.

“Her audition was a surprise,” Mandel said. “And I think she was surprised at the fact that Terry and the producers put her in the audience. But nobody could plan, because they didn’t tell us, how we would react, the fact that we would bring her live on the stage — it would be a great moment for the show, but that could have been a great moment in the audience. She was brought to the stage, and then ended up with a golden buzzer.”

He continued, talking about her live show performance.

“And then tonight, and doing even more,” he said. “I was talking to somebody earlier when I went up onstage, I went ‘Where’s your dad?’ and she was just sitting there, standing there in tears, an she said her dad is not feeling well tonight, he couldn’t even make it tonight.”

Mandel said that it’s a big deal for him to not be there, because her singing brought her dad through cancer.

“On top of the pressure of the pressure of it being live, she’s dealing with that, so my prayers and heart and hopes are with Maddie right now.”

12-Year-Old Singer Surprises Audience During “America’s Got Talent” Audition

Maddie’s audition, which earned her Mandel’s golden buzzer, was a huge surprise. As Mandel mentioned, the crew had her start from the audience. She began belting out “Amazing Grace,” and her powerful voice earned her a roar of cheers. Judge Simon Cowell walked over to her, asking her her age, and invited her up on the stage. Fellow judge Heidi Klum began chanting, “On the stage! On the stage!” and everyone was shocked to see how young she was.

Mandel went on to say that amazing things happen during the commercial breaks. Cowell explained: “We do ask people in the breaks if they’d like to sing a song, and I was literally just coming back in, and heard this voice, thinking, ‘Who the hell is that?'”

The judges then had her sing some more, which sent the audience into an uproar again. Cowell then told her: “In all the years that we have done this, this has never actually happened before. I mean, I normally leave during the break, because people do sing, so this is actually the opposite. It actually brought me back into the room.”

Maddie’s live show performance was no different, with her powerful cover of “Higher Love” earning her more love from the judges and audience.