After 17 seasons on the air, Howie Mandel thought he’d seen it all.
Yet on a recent episode of “America’s Got Talent,” the veteran performer was left “gobsmacked” by a young girl who started the show as an audience member and ended it as a contestant in the finals! Her name is Madison “Maddie” Taylor Baez, and according to Howie, she’s “magical.”
Maddie is an AGT superfan who has been watching the show religiously since she was just 4 years old. Now 11, the Yorba Linda, California tween came to the show to audition, but producers asked her to sit in the audience instead. During commercial breaks it’s not uncommon for showrunners to ask audience members to sing, just in case they can discover a hidden talent lurking in the shadows. On this day, they got more than they bargained for!
Maddie stood up and sang an a capella version of “Amazing Grace” that had the whole crowd cheering. Not only that, but she got the attention of the judges, who asked her to come up on stage and show them what she’s got.
Maddie wiped away tears as she told the judges she has always dreamed of being on their stage. Then she gave them a longer version of “Amazing Grace” and proved she is the real deal!
“My jaw hit the desk,” Howie later explained. “I was surprised, I was entertained, my heart is still gushing from that moment. There was something about that sound, that clarity, that strength, that made us turn our heads, and not only made us turn our heads, but just say, ‘Wow.'”
After she sang, the audience made their feelings known by cheering for the Golden Buzzer. Howie decided to honor their wishes, hitting the button to send Maddie straight to the final rounds! None of the judges could believe that she’d gone from the audience to the finals so quickly.
Maddie says she’d use the prize money to fund cancer research because her father has been fighting colon cancer for the past nine years. Her dad says she learned to sing at his hospital bedside.
“I’ve been battling cancer for the last nine years, and that’s how she learned to sing,’ he shared. “She would sing to me at the hospital throughout my surgeries, throughout my chemo treatments. She’d sing to me and helping me get better, and I’m doing very well.”
Maddie feels like she is living her dream, and she can’t wait to compete in the final rounds! We can’t wait to see what this little girl with a big voice does next.
Watch her surprise performance below, and don’t forget to share.
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