He had to go back to basics in order to win the Golden Buzzer! Johnny Manuel is a former child star whose career was cut short, but he never stopped singing. He stood before the America's Got Talent judges with the hopes of wowing them all over again with his voice and earn a spot in the live shows — but he had to remind them why he deserves to continue on AGT.
For his second performance, Johnny said that some of his favorite singers are the classic vocalists, which is why he chose to perform Stevie Wonder's 1980 hit song "Lately." His rendition won over judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Mel B, but Simon Cowell and guest judge Seal were not so impressed. Simon explained that he wasn't a fan of Johnny's song choice this time around, and he asked him to sing a 30-second clip of the first song he performed for them during his first audition.
Even though he was put on the spot, the Flint, MI native rose to the occasion and sang a moving rendition of the late Whitney Houston's 1992 hit song "I Have Nothing." His incredible voice hit every note impeccably as he performed a cappella, and Seal was moved — so much that he was brought to his feet.
“You hit notes only I can dream of. I was always taught that you have to be ready, you never know when an opportunity is going to knock on your door,” Seal said before showering Johnny in gold confetti. “It’s very rare to see talent like that.”
— America's Got Talent (@AGT) August 9, 2017
Johnny is starting his career over at 32 years old. When he was just 13, he signed to a recording contract with Warner Bros. and he performed under the name Lil Johnny. He spent his teen years touring with acts like 'NSYNC and Lil' Bow Wow and worked with hit producer Jermaine Dupri. His career was cut short when he was dropped from the label, but now he's getting a second chance to chase his dreams thanks to AGT.