“America’s Got Talent” returned for its 16th season Tuesday night, and some front-line heroes had the chance to show off just what they can do when not helping others.
Judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara and Heidi Klum, along with host Terry Crews, told TODAY in an interview with Natalie Morales leading up to the season premiere that the show will feature many memorable acts this year. Among them is the Northwell Health Nurse Choir, a group of 18 nurses who worked during the pandemic at various hospitals in the New York City area.
"It was uplifting," Crews told Natalie. "It was one of those things because they've seen so much tragedy during this year ... that they needed to lean on each other as a choir, as a group, and it was amazing to watch."
“That moment just explodes on the screen, and America is going to be in tears,” Mandel added.
And the performance certainly lived up to the hype. The choir took the stage in the season premiere episode to sing a medley of "Lean on Me" and "Stand By Me," an inspiring moment that scored the group a Golden Buzzer from Mandel, sending the choir straight to the live shows in Hollywood.
“One word comes to mind and it’s ‘heroic,’” Mandel told them. “I got to say that you are the most inspiring moment that I have had in the last year, not only for who you are, for what you do.”
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When speaking to Natalie last week, the judges said this season’s competitors really raise the bar.
“The stage is more explosive than it's ever been,” Mandel shared.
"I'm back there with these acts, and what was crazy is we all learned that we will never, ever take anything for granted," Crews added. "There are some things that you will never, ever see at any other time, any other place. They put everything on the line. It all went up like 10 notches."
One of those acts, 10-year-old Peter Rosalita, also appeared in Tuesday’s season premiere. He stunned the judges with a cover of “All By Myself,” the Eric Carmen song that Celine Dion made into a hit in 1996.
“That was an incredible audition,” Cowell told the young singer. “There were parts during that audition which literally gave me goose bumps. You have an amazing voice, an amazing personality, an amazing energy. Everyone is going to fall in love with you after this audition.”