For every performer, young or old, facing the massive crowds and tough judging panel on America’s Got Talent can be daunting. There’s one person in particular that every contestant must respect and fear.
As former host Nick Cannon asked one of the fresh-faced vocalists hoping to make it through the auditions, “you know that one of the judges and the creator of the show Simon Cowell has discovered many singers. Are you nervous singing in front of him?”
The 13-year-old singer he talked to was naturally intimidated but promised to give it her best, and in the end, it was the judges who were bowled over.
Laura Bretan seeing the stage for the first time.
The 8th-grader in question, Laura Bretan, who comes from Chicago, Illinois, was definitely scared. All the talent, all the lights, and all the people were a lot to take in for this teenager. She said was definitely nervous about singing for Cowell in particular. “If he doesn’t like you, he will tell you the truth. And the truth hurts.”
As the auditions went on, one after another act came before the judges and fell under the withering commentary of Cowell. This music industry legend knows what’s good and what isn’t and doesn’t mince his words for acts he thinks aren’t up to the level of the competition he created.
After one boy band came up to the stage to Shawn Mendes’s “Stitches,” Cowell stopped the performance and told one of the singers point blank, “you shouldn’t be singing.” After Mel B jumped in to say that was overly harsh, Cowell refused to give ground: “well, you shouldn’t be singing loudly.” Despite some boos from the crowd, Cowell continued, “I want to be honest with you, this wasn’t anywhere near good enough.”
After another singer-songwriter gave what seemed to be a good performance, Cowell faulted her for lack of originality. “It was quick, it was nice, but I’m not going to be thinking in 30 minutes’ time, ‘I’ve never heard or seen something like it before,'”
Then it was young Laura Bretan’s turn to go up to the stage. After hearing Simon roast the previous contestants, she was shaking in her boots. One of the show’s producers told her backstage, “nervous and excited are the same thing,” trying to give her some courage. But what neither he nor the judges knew was that this young woman had an incredible voice inside her small frame.
She was visibly nervous as she took to the stage but got the thumbs up from her mom, who encouraged her singing from a young age and helped her pick out the song for the audition, which was none other than “Nessun dorma,” the legendary aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot.
With the song having been sung by opera greats such as Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli, this young lady had some big shoes to fill. But after the first bars, it became clear that she was up to the challenge.
Bretan delivered a stunning performance of the aria from start to finish, showing no signs of the nerves that plagued other contestants. Her voice was strong and true, soaring majestically, her expressions were sincere and vivid, and the effect on the audiences and judges was nothing short of miraculous.
Within 30 seconds, the entire audience was on its feet, clapping and cheering. “Oh my God!,” Howie Mandel couldn’t help but exclaim. Simon Cowell was in disbelief: “she’s 13?”. At the end of the performance, Mel B. was smiling ear to ear, and the judges joined the audience on their feet.
Cowell was shocked: “you came out like a jelly. I didn’t think you were going to be able to talk.” But then Bretan started to sing. “I have never heard anything like that in all the years I’ve been doing this show.” But it wasn’t just Cowell who was thrilled by her performance.
Mel B. told her, “you made all the hairs on my arm stand up on end.” Predicting that the show would change her life, she told Bretan, “I’m going to change your life right now.” The former Spice Girl hit the Golden Buzzer, sending the young singer to the quarterfinals, and ran up to the stage to give her a hug. “You are so special!”.
Bretan would later advance to the finals, placing 6th overall, but no one would ever forget that first performance. “It was a dream come true” and performance that still sends shivers down the spine with its supernatural beauty.
We've already watched this four times.