Avery Dixon, one of the first two America’s Got Talent finalists, acknowledged that his confidence has soared this summer as he competes on the talent show.
AGT judge Simon Cowell took note of Dixon’s performance and stage presence this week and compared him to one of the biggest entertainers in the world — country music star Carrie Underwood. Coincidentally, Cowell was a judge on American Idol when Underwood won the title in 2005.
Cowell wasn’t comparing talent to talent. Underwood is a singer while Dixon plays the sax. He dazzled the audience with his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”
“I promise you, Avery, since the time we first met you to now, something’s changed,” Cowell told Dixon, Tuesday, during the first of five semifinal rounds for America’s Got Talent.
“I’m going to predict something. I said this about Carrie Underwood years and years and years ago on [American Idol], which is, you’re going to be a superstar. I promise you, Avery, I actually believe it’s going to happen, because this was so different. You were great the first time, but this was incredible. Your confidence and your talent, everything is brilliant. I’m so happy for you.”
Here’s Dixon’s performance on America’s Got Talent that got Cowell so gushy. On Wednesday’s results show, the voters and judges sent Dixon and country singer Drake Milligan to next month’s AGT championship. The winner receives $1 million and the headliner spot on the AGT show in Vegas.
Dixon loved the comparison to Underwood. He said he considers everyone involved with America’s Got Talent as his family. When you feel so at ease on stage, you can pull off brilliant performances.
“I knew I was accepted in this place,” Dixon told NBC Insider. “And it’s like I’m fighting to be here, and I’m not fighting the fight alone, and that’s what made it all so much better. These are people that are going through my story with me. And to open up to them is like sitting on the couch with your best friends.”
The best contestants on America’s Got Talent know how to entertain. And they also own a compelling back story. Dixon was born several weeks premature. He weighed only 1 pound, 8 ounces at birth. Doctors intubated him to help his underdeveloped lungs. His vocal cords were damaged in the process. Kids used to bully him about his voice. Obviously, his lungs are fine.
Dixon received the first Golden Buzzer of the season after he played “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding. American’s Got Talent host Terry Crews slapped the buzzer to allow Dixon to move to the live rounds. Crews cheered on his buzzer winner during the first semifinals.
“He wowed at the auditions … but now he’s at another level,” Crews said of Dixon. “And it’s so serendipitous that he played ‘Higher Ground’ because he’s officially at another level right now.
“Imagine when we get live and start teaming him up with other great musicians and other things. Remember, it’s not just his story, it’s the talent. It’s gotta be both, and he has it.”
And here’s Dixon’s performance during the America’s Got Talent auditions.