‘AGT’ Recap: The Show’s First-Ever Spoken Word Artist Earns Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer


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The June 30 episode featured no audience, but the talent wasn’t lacking whatsoever. One act made history and moved Sofia Vergara to tears, while an Olympian wowed the judges with her voice.

The June 30 episode is unlike any episode of America’s Got Talent. There’s no audience due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Heidi Klum is still out sick, so Eric Stonestreet is sticking around. The first act to hit the stage is Cheer Athletics, a competitive cheer group from Texas. They blow the judges away with their amazing stunts and tumbling skills.

At one point, Sofia Vergara’s jaw drops. Howie Mandel calls the group “terrific” and notes how cheerleading is so much more dangerous than the sports the cheerleaders are cheering for. Simon Cowell believes that the AGT audience is going to love this act.

Brandon Leake earns Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer during the June 30 episode. (NBC)

The next act is a young piano player named Jacob Velazquez. He performs a beautiful original song on the piano, and then transitions into playing the drums to Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries.” Simon loves Jacob’s “amazing aura” and thinks he’s going to inspire a lot of people. He admits this is “one of his favorite auditions of the season.” Howie calls him a prodigy!

Michael Yo is probably someone you’ve seen before interviewing the biggest celebrities. He was an entertainment news correspondent, but now he’s pursuing his ultimate dream: stand-up comedy. His act has Howie and Eric clapping before he’s even finished. When Michael’s audition is over, he bursts into tears. Simon calls the audition “fantastic,” and Eric says that Michael “nailed it.”

Brothers Gage follows Michael with their harmonica-playing act. The performance is unlike anything we’ve ever heard before. Sofia admits that she was dreading the performance at first, but the brothers made it “exciting.” Simon tells the brothers that he loved their original song and their “likability factor is ginormous.”

Shevon Nieto is a two-time Olympic runner. She’s now retired and ready to show her voice to the world. In 2015, her husband, Jamie, was coaching Olympic hopefuls when his foot slipped on one of his jumps. Jamie was left paralyzed. They had been dating for 3 years at the time, and Shevon was getting ready for her third Olympic Games. She comes to AGT with an original song she wrote for Jamie called “Through The Good & The Bad.” The performance is absolutely stunning.

Shevon Nieto
Shevon Nieto performs on the June 30 episode of ‘AGT.’ (NBC)

Howie calls the audition “beautiful.” Sofia says that Shevon has a “wonderful” voice. Simon tells Shevon that her audition was in a “different class.” Jamie is so happy for Shevon. Backstage after the audition, Shevon reveals that she’s pregnant!

A young cello player named Elijah shows off his talent to the judges with his spin on Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings.” While Simon didn’t like the backing track, he knows that Elijah has “great potential.” Kenadi Dodds takes the stage with just her guitar. She’s just 15 years old. Her family members have an eye disease where you lose your vision until you are fully blind. Kenadi is the only one in her family who doesn’t have the disease. Her 9-year-old sister wanted to see her perform on the biggest stage before she loses her vision for good. She sings an original song called “One Way Ticket To Tennesse.” Simon loves her authenticity and the fact that she knows she wants to go into country music.

Comedian Crystal Powell brings the laughs with her electric comedy routine. The judges love her. Eric admires the physicality she brings to her set, and Simon calls her “naturally funny.”  Wesley Williams is a one-wheeled wonder. He takes unicycling to a whole new level with his daring act. At one point, he’s riding a 20-foot high unicycle!

The final performance of the night comes from Brandon Leake. He’s the first spoken word act to perform on AGT. His audition poem is an ode to his sister, who died in 1997. His performance is nothing short of profound. Howie stands up immediately, followed by Simon. Sofia starts to cry and tells Brandon that her brother passed away the same year as his sister.

Simon calls the performance “extraordinary” and an “amazing tribute.” He doesn’t even want to judge Brandon. He just wants to compliment him. Howie is amazed at what he just witnessed. “You moved me to do this,” Howie says as he presses the Golden Buzzer, sending him straight to the live shows!

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