When Cristina Rae stepped onto the “America’s Got Talent” stage Tuesday night, the Nashville, Tennessee native wasn’t just dreaming of finding fame and fortune like so many TV talent show contestants.
She was dreaming of finding a home, too.
Before she belted out a single note, Rae introduced the “AGT” panel to her toddler, Jeremiah, and then made a surprise revelation.
"As you can see, I'm a single mom,” she said as she held her young son in her arms. “I was living in my vehicle while pregnant … I was (homeless) before I gave birth to my son.”
And while they have a roof over their heads these days, Rae hopes that her talent — if it takes her all the way to a win — can secure them the ultimate reward.
“This will change my life by putting us in a home, my own home, not just in family situations,” she said of the competition’s $1 million dollar top prize.
So when she finally sang, first showcasing her powerful vocals in a rendition of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” and then in a standout, soulful cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” — both of which earned her a standing ovation — there was a lot on the line.
After all, winning the show could only be a possibility if she nailed the audition.
And she did just that!
"There is only one way to describe your voice,” judge Simon Cowell said when the music ended. “It is insanely good. There is absolutely no point making shows like this unless we find people like you. I adore you."
The rest of the judges were in agreement, with Howie Mandel raving that Rae “blew the roof” off the place and Sofia Vergara pointing out that both she and Heidi Klum “were getting goosebumps” from the performance.
And even though all that high praise was sure to give Rae a hint that she’d likely be moving on in the competition, Klum soon made it absolutely clear.
The supermodel turned “AGT” panelist hit the Golden Buzzer, automatically sending Rae to the live shows — and that much closer to her goal.
It was a moment that brought tears to the 30-year-old’s eyes, and after the shiny confetti fell, Cowell put his arms around her and said, “I think you might be one of the best singers we’ve ever had.”