It was an emotional night on America’s Got Talent on Tuesday (July 12), with a golden buzzer for a teen singing sensation and a touching tribute to a contestant who tragically died before viewers got a chance to see him take the stage. On a night when viral subway singer Mike Yung might very well have been the big headline, judge Heidi Klum finally pulled the trigger on the last golden ticket to the live rounds when she was blown away by 13-year-old Angelina Green’s cover of the Pretenders’ 1994 signature hit “I’ll Stand By You.”
Green, who said her mother is her best friend, told the judges, “I’ve been singing since forever, but I took it seriously when my parents got divorced and it was really hard for me. Music helped me so much.” The Miami teen, standing with her feet planted firmly together, then let rip a nuanced, emotional take on the Chrissie Hynde ballad about perseverance and loyalty, bringing tears to her mother’s eyes.
“I really, really loved what you just did. To me you feel like there’s an old soul inside of that little 13-year-old body, and I really, really loved it. I loved it so much that I’m going to hit the Golden Buzzer,” Klum said before unleashing the shower of golden confetti and hugging Green.
Watch the magic moment below:
So far this season, the judges have used the golden buzzer for 16-year-old singer Christian Guardino, 12-year-old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer and 29-year-old deaf singer Mandy Harvey; host Tyra Banks hit the buzzer for Ukrainian dance troupe Light Balance.
The other emotional high point of the episode was when the show paid tribute to Dr. Brandon Rogers a month after the 29-year-old family medicine physician died in a car accident. “At the request of his family we would like to honor his memory by sharing his audition with you,” producers said in a statement that aired before Rogers’ appearance.
“My inspiration for becoming a doctor was kind of born out of a pretty tough experience when I was about six years old when I came home from school one day and found my mom laying in a pool of blood,” Brandon said in the taped segment explaining how he came to medicine. “We rushed her to the hospital, the doctors were like heroes. They saved her life and it made me want to be the doctor that I am today… I feel like I’m in a field where I’m actually making a difference, and there can be some tough days too. My way to cope with the stress has always been music… My patients they’re so supportive and excited. If I could find a way to combine being a doctor and medicine with music and singing that would be a dream come true.“
Viewers then saw the Virginia native’s soulful cover of Stevie Wonder‘s 1995 hit “Ribbon in the Sky,” with Klum pronouncing, “the doctor is really handsome and the doctor can sing” and Simon Cowell dubbing him one of the best singers in this year’s competition so far. Producers found Rogers after they saw him singing Boyz II Men‘s “On Bended Knee” on Instagram and after they heard of his death, Boyz II Men paid tribute to Rogers on their Instagram.
Watch Rogers’ performance below: