‘America’s Got Talent’: Late Contestant Nightbirde’s Golden Buzzer Moment Takes the Top Spot in Show’s Top 15

by Suzanne Halliburton

America’s Got Talent took a break from its auditions, Tuesday. Instead, judge Simon Cowell and host Terry Crews presented the show’s all-time best Golden Buzzer moments. The final selection made both men pause to steady their emotions.

Among the top 15 acts that Cowell selected, there were singers, dancers, ventriloquists, acrobats, magicians, a violinist, a ukulele player, even someone who inspired while reading the poetry he’d written.

But No. 1 went to a 30-year-old woman who never performed again on the America’s Got Talent stage. In fact, Jane Marczewski, who went by Nightbirde when she performed, knew beforehand that she’d likely be singing only once. Back in 2017, doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. She beat it, but it came back again, twice. By the time she auditioned last year, doctors told her she didn’t have long to live.

For one final moment, Nightbirde sang like an angel, inspiring fans around the world. The judges choked up watching her, as Nightbirde performed a song she wrote. The song was “It’s OK.” Maybe it was about a young woman trying to deal with the horrors of an aggressive cancer. Or it could be an inspirational song for any soul who needs soothing. Tell yourself, it’ll be OK.

“We’ve been lost and it’s all right,” sang Nightbirde, with her ripped jeans and pixie haircut. Her song ended with the words “it’s all right to be lost sometimes.” In looking back at her audition, Crews said it was like watching an angel.

On America’s Got Talent, Simon Cowell Gave Nightbirde the Golden Buzzer

The night of her audition, the America’s Got Talent judges talked about her authenticity and the way she so casually talked about how her cancer spread to her liver, spine and lungs. Then Nightbirde told the panel: “You can’t wait for when life isn’t hard anymore until you can be happy.”

Simon Cowell told her he wasn’t going to give her a yes. Instead, he slapped the buzzer, which released the golden confetti, which blanketed Nightbirde, giving her a special, celestial glow.

“There was something really special about Jane, I adored her,” Cowell told Crews in last night’s America’s Got Talent special. “The last time I saw her, she did say what that moment meant to her. All these years she had been trying to get recognition as a songwriter, as a singer…I promise you, so many people come up to me and talked about what she did, giving people hope and perspective.”

Cowell continued. “You know, she typifies, I think, what the Golden Buzzer, like you said, is all about. She knew how sick she was and she couldn’t make the finals. But I think watching it back, it makes you feel hopeful. Her golden buzzer will live on forever. No one else, in my opinion, could be number one.”

A Golden Buzzer allows the special contestant to skip through the rest of the preliminary rounds and head to the quarterfinals. But Nightbirde quit the competition. She was too sick to continue. Nightbirde died on Feb. 19. She said on the show that it was important that people realize she was so much more than a woman dying of cancer.

After her 2021 performance on America’s Got Talent, Nightbirde’s song became a viral sensation. It hit No. 1 on iTunes with 39 million views. Late last month, her family said they’d be releasing more of her music.