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Never Seen a Ventriloquist & Sax Player Like This on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT Season 17 Premiere Recap!

Pictured: Avery Dixon -- Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

NBC’s Summer mega talent show “America’s Got Talent” returned for a 17th season on Tuesday night.  The premiere episode opened with a creative skit that showed a very young Simon Cowell, who’s not only a judge, but also the show’s creator and executive producer, looking at his future via a Crystal.  Through this crystal, he was shown images from his time on the show.  One such image included his Golden Buzzer contestant last season, Nightbirde.  This was a wonderful homage to Nightbirde who was unable to compete in the live shows last season due to her long time battle with cancer.  She recently passed away.

After that, a montage of a slew of some of the upcoming acts competing this season for the grand prize of $1 million and a headline act of a Las Vegas show were teased to viewers.  The returning judges – Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell, and host – Terry Crews took to the stage greeted by roaring fans.   Apparently, 4,000 of them were inside the Pasadena Civic Center for the audition tapings.

In line with all seasons past, there was no shortage of touching stories from the contestants.  But, this episode absolutely saved the best for last, and finished in true AGT tear-jerker fashion, with a Golden Buzzer win by one act.  There were the traditional fluff acts in between that lacked any talent, ie: miniature horse act, flame singer, and a popular jingle singer/songwriter whose act took a turn for the better!


The frontman/founder and director of an after school band called “The Pack Drumline,” Perry, said they came to AGT to represent Chicago “in the best way.”  From Chicago Illinois, Perry, introduced his drumline which started as an after-school at-risk program.  He said they started with only bucket drums and PVC pipes.  Before their audition, Simon told the group “we always say on this show, literally two minutes can change your life.  So, good luck.”  They played the instruments while doing acrobats, and dancing .  They really impressed everyone with this unique spin on their genre.

The drumline group got a standing ovation from the crowd and all the judges. Sofia said they are already “an amazing show” and thinks they’ll do really well in the AGT competition.  Heidi liked the choreography, and the fact that they mixed music of today into their routine.  Howie simply reacted that he loved them!  Simon said the best part about doing this job is “moments like this,” and “this is exactly what this show is all about.”  He said it was an amazing audition.   It was all “yes” votes for The Pack Drumline.

XOMG POP (Girl Group)

Pictured: XOMG Pop — Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC

“XOMG Pop ” is a girl group created by Jojo Siwa and her mom Jessalynn Siwa.  They performed an original song called “Candy Hearts.” They are an all girl group of seven who sing and dance while dressed like a very young Jojo Siwa with sparkles and rainbows.

After their very successful audition of singing a really catchy song, Howie reacted that he has a granddaughter who is 7- years-old and this is exactly a concert that she would want to go to.  He anticipates that the group will be touring.  Heidi said she remembers when Jojo was jojo with a bow-bow.  “Everyone is on point….so special,” she said.  Sofia reacted that it was “so much fun” and every little girl in America is going to go crazy when they see them.  Simon tried to be a downer by stating that he didn’t like it.  He “loved it!”  That’s a lot coming from music mogul Simon.  He compared them to “a mini explosion” and was really happy that the group came to AGT.  It was all “yes” votes for XOMG Pop!

Jojo and her Mom were there backstage with the group watching-on and they briefly came out on stage to congratulate their group and exited the stage with them.

MERVANT VERA (Rapper/Magician)

Pictured: Mervant Vera — Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC

Mervant is from Philadelphia, PA who is 33-years-old.  He said being a magician, it “makes you feel like you have a real super-power growing up.”   He’s on AGT because “if you can do it here, you can do it anywhere” and it’s his dream to play Vegas and tour the world.  He said this past year he lost his grandmother who was his biggest supporter and told him don’t dare quit magic.

His act is rapping while doing card tricks timed with his rap to illustrate what he’s rapping about.  Everyone (including the judges) were amazed and didn’t know how he did it!   Sofia said she’s never seen anything like that.  Mervant explained that he’s super inspired by watching musicals.   He said, “I do magic. Why not write a rap about that.”  Heidi said it was “fantastic.”  Simon reacted “incredible” and was angry at Mervant for not auditioning before.  Howie said “the best things are worth waiting for and that’s one of the best magic acts I’ve ever seen.”  Mervant received four “yes” votes.


Lee is from England.  He said he wants to be able to quit his day job as putting up fences and just do music.  It’s his first time in America.  He said food in America “is amazing!”  Lee chose the “Better Days”song because recent times have been rough for everyone and he lost a friend during lock-down.

Lee got a standing ovation from all the judges including Simon Cowell.  Howie reacted that people at home don’t understand the pressure for someone when they walk out onto the AGT stage.  He gave props to Lee for being as young as he is AND it’s his first time in America.  He took all that pressure and exploded the roof off!  Amazing, “great job,” said Howie.   Heidi said it was worth it for him to fly in for this audition. “You nailed it.”  Sofia said she loved it from the very start and Lee has “a beautiful personality.”  Simon said there’s something really humbling and likable about Lee and hopes this is the moment for something really special for him.

With that, Simon asked Lee to call his Mum while still on stage.  Lee Face-Timed his mom and showed her the AGT audience and judges.   All of the judges said “hi” to Lee’s mom.  Simon joked that Lee “was terrible” and why did she put him on the plane?  He said “we’re just joking” as they prepared to vote.  Howie started the voting off with a “yes” vote.  Lee got all “yes” votes!  Simon told Lee “well done’ and gave him a hug.

The next act brought a miniature horse onto the stage.  This was a very good attempt at an animal act which didn’t go so smoothly.


David is from Sacramento, Ca.  He brought a miniature horse with him to do tricks on-stage.  However, the horse didn’t want to sit when told.  The horse dashed off the stage upon the final stunt which was running through a paper hoop.  Unfortunately this was followed by a string of non-talented acts.

JOE who sang a song for his wife.  Simon and the other judges were not impressed.  Simon pressed his “X” buzzer as the singer engulfed himself in flames.  The rest of the judges quickly pressed their “X” buzzers as well  to get him to stop and get the fire extinguished.

The next act was someone who does yoga with goats and Alpacas.  And, yes, they brought all those animals with them!  The judges didn’t like that act much. But, Heidi and Sofia liked the goats so much that they snuck two of them for themselves!

BEN LAPIDUS (Singer/Songwriter)

Ben is a singer-songwriter.  The producers of AGT did a heart-warming back-story package of Ben.  The prepped viewers into thinking that Ben was going to be a really incredible singer.  However, things took a turn once he started singing.  Included in his package, Ben stated that his father passed-away when he was 9-years-old.  This is what prompted Ben to start writing songs.  After getting onto the AGT stage, Ben performed an original song which turned out to be about wanting MORE parmesan while being served at restaurants, but he’s too embarrassed to ask for more!

First of all, Simon could not relate (he doesn’t like parmesan), and he was the first judge to use his “X” buzzer followed by Howie, then Sofia.  Heidi didn’t hit her “X” buzzer for a while which allowed Ben to almost finish his song.  Ben literally got the audience singing and supporting him.  This  ultimately swayed the judges to take back their “X’s.”  Thus, Ben went through!

When Simon said he didn’t like Ben’s song, he was booed.  Then the audience chanted  “Parmesan, parmesan, parmesan…!!”  Ben gave an encore performance.  Simon reacted “I want to kill you now” he said because he couldn’t get the song out of his head. Simon took back his “X.”  Heidi said “me too.”  When the other judges asked Howie, he responded “no” to taking back his “X.”  But, Sofia did take hers back and Ben went through!

CELIA MUNOZ (Ventriloquist)

Pictured: Celia Munoz — Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

Celia is 36-years-old from Spain.  Her story is that she was a full time Opera singer turned ventriloquist.  How did this happen, Heidi asked?  Celia said by chance, she watched a video on YouTube about ventriloquism and tried it.  She was able to learn the craft in two years.  Celia expressed how she was inspired by past AGT winning ventriloquist acts who are – Terry Fator, and Darci Lynn.  She said she wanted to come to AGT because this is the place for this artform.

Celia’s audition presented a narrative that was about her getting ready while playing music on the radio.  She was the singer on the radio as she  brushed her teeth, flossed, took a phone call, and drank water.  Heidi called it refreshing not having “some weird puppet coming out of a box.”  Simon called it “unbelievable.”  Sofia said it’s “so different than anything we have ever seen.”  Howie called it the most original thing he’s seen and she just turned the dial to 11.  Simon said in all the years they’ve seen a ventriloquist act,  “this is the best original.”

VERANICA (Animal Act)

Veranica is from Oxford, Florida.  Simon asked about her pets, the young girl (12-years-old) responded by listing a slew of her pets that included:  27 horses, 3 camels, 2 ponies, 8 goats, 50 doves, 50 chickens, 15 dogs, and 13 cats.  The act proved to be one of the better animal acts that had a bunch of poodle dogs dancing, jumping rope and one dog doing multiple “quick changes” with their wardrobe while walking through dog sized tents.  Veranica received four huge “yes” votes from all four judges.


Mike is a comedian who said his age range is 20s-30s when asked.  His jokes talked about him being a step-dad to a kid who is almost his age, and going out with “older moms” is how he started his audition.  After he finished, the audience was rooting for Mike.

Sofia said he’s amazing, his energy and his smile.  She loved it.  From one comedian to another, Howie reacted, “everything you say is memorable, authentic, your smile, your persona.”  Heidi said he’s fantastic and his face “is so cute.”  Simon said he has a “real star quality” about him and they couldn’t do the show without an audience.  The audience loved him.   Mike got four “yes” votes. Sofia called him one of her favorites she’s seen.

SHU TAKADA (Yo-Yo Artist)

Shu Takada is from Japan and is 25-years-old.  He said the yo-yo changed his life. It taught him to be more expressive and more of an outgoing person.  He said it’s not only a toy, yo-yo is also an extreme sport and an art.  He wants to break everyone’s images of yo-yo’s and  share his yo-yo style with the world.   Simon said he’s seen his share of yo-yo acts and they tend to be boring.

After watching Shu’s yo-yo audition that was filled with impressive maneuvers and stunts.  It proved to be anything but boring!  Simon’s reaction was “we weren’t expecting that.”  Howie said you made the yo-yo cool and fun and he’s not just a yo yoer he’s also a dancer.  Sofia said as soon as he did the yo-yo, he lightened-up.  Simon reacted that he did something really, really incredible and people are going to watch it over and over again.  He loves acts like this.   He got all “yes” votes.

AVERY DIXON (Saxophone Player)

Avery is from Atlanta, Georgia, and is 21-years-old.   Simon said the Sax goes in and out of style.  Avery said it depends on the player.  He said his elementary nickname was “Hammer Head.”  He was a premature baby and his vocal chords didn’t close all the way. He was teased a lot. Avery said he was in such a dark place that he wanted to commit suicide.  It’s when he learned how to play the saxophone.  If he won, Avery said he would want to give his mom and brother a larger space in order to practice.  The neighbors call the cops when he’s practicing his saxophone.  Simon responded, “here, you can be as loud as you like.”  Avery played a familiar tune that had the judges and audience up and dancing.

Heidi said if Howie Mandel gets up and dances, “that means you’re really good!”  Howie said Avery needs to be there and he’s going to change the world.  Heidi said when Avery plays with his instrument, he plays with his heart, “and we feel it.”  Avery was sobbing.  Sofia said it’s special for them because it’s special to him, and  “America is going to fall in love with you.”  Simon said every time he hears of a kid being bullied, it breaks his heart.  Simon said he hopes that any of those idiots that bullied him are watching this audition. He said he knew Avery would be good, but didn’t know he’d be great!   “It was like listening to a singer” and Avery got 4000 people there in the audience on their feet.

Pictured: (l-r) Avery Dixon, Terry Crews — Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

Simon said this is Avery’s destiny.  Simon gave him his first “yes” vote. Then Terry Crews cut-in and said “there’s no need to vote.  There’s no need to vote!”  We all know what that means!  Crews gave Avery his Golden Buzzer.  He said Avery touched the heart of every human being in this building.  Avery’s been bullied all his life. “You tell everyone that you have a big brother named Terry Crews and all those bullies are going to have to watch you succeed my friend!”

Pictured: Avery Dixon — Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

With that, Avery Dixon is heading to the AGT Live Shows!  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.



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