Typically unflappable America’s Got Talent judge Simon Cowell got emotional on Wednesday night (August 11) when one of his favorite acts of the season dialed in to give an update on her health. “It was a great show (last night) but there was somebody missing – Nightbirde,” host Terry Crews said during Wednesday’s live results show.
He was referring to the Zanesville, Ohio singer born Jane Marczewski, who got a golden buzzer from Cowell earlier this season for her original song “It’s Okay,” during an audition in which she revealed that she had a 2% chance of survival from cancer that had spread to her lungs, spine and liver. She appeared remotely on the results show, telling Crews with a smile, “I cannot say thank you enough for the opportunity to have a moment to share my story and we are witnessing such a beautiful picture of the human spirit” after Terry told her that her the audition had amassed more than 200 million views.
“There is no way I would have ever imagined that,” she said of the massive embrace she’d gotten from viewers. “It’s a song I wrote for myself in the in the middle of the night when I needed those words so bad and it’s beautiful to see the world welcome that song into their own dark night and… I’m overwhelmed by it.”
Judge Howie Mandel called the singer the “poster human for courage in the face of adversity” at a time when the entire world is being harshly challenged. “For poise, for beauty and for fight and that’s what we all need to do,” he added, as Cowell, looking near tears, seconded his friend’s emotion.
Fellow judge Sofia Vergara thanked Nightbirde for “touching us with your song and who you are and how you are,” with Cowell’s voice cracking as he recalled speaking a few times with the singer since her audition. “You made the decision, rightly so, that your health is your priority right now and I know the last time we spoke you actually said that you feel like you let people down,” Cowell said as tears welled up in his eyes. “On behalf of all of us, you haven’t let anyone down. Even though you haven’t competed – you already won… the most important thing is your well-being.”
At one point Cowell appeared unable to get out a sentence as the crowd whooped at his heartswell moment. “Thank you so much for auditioning on the show and for singing such a beautiful song and… it was…” he said biting his lip, unable to continue as Vergara told Nightbirde that she was loved.
Nightbirde reflected that love right back and said the embrace has “restored my faith in humanity a whole lot to see people come together.”
On August 2, Nightbirde announced that she was leaving the show to focus on her health. “Since my audition, my health has taken a turn for the worse and the fight with cancer is demanding all of my energy and attention. I am so sad to announce that I won’t be able to continue forward on this season of AGT,” she wrote at the time.
“Life doesn’t always give breaks to those that deserve it — but we knew that already. Thank you for all your support, it means the world to me. Stay with me, I’ll be better soon. I’m planning my future, not my legacy. Pretty beat up, but I’ve still got dreams.”
The results show also featured the return of last year’s winner, spoken word poet Brandon Leake, as well as former champ ventriloquist Darci Lynne and the announcement of which acts will advance to the semi-finals. Vocal group 1aChord made it through, as did singers Peter Rosalita, Jimmie Herrod and Madilyn Bailey, comedian Gina Brillon, comedian Kabir Singh and magician Dustin Tavella.
Country-rap group Gangstagrass, dog act The Canine Stars, escape artist Matt Johnson, dance troupe Beyond Belief Dance Co. and comedian Sethward did not make the cut. The second quarterfinals round will air on NBC on August 17.
Watch Nightbirde’s return to AGT below.