A transgender singer left Mel B with tears in her eyes during a powerful performance about his transformation on Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent.
Bearded crooner Brody Ray from Nebraska had already moved the judges with his story of ‘struggles and battles’ growing up as a girl named Natalie until transitioning in 2010, saying: ‘It was the start of my life.’
He then left the audience enthralled and earned a huge ovation with his performance of Jordan Smith’s Stand In The Light, clearly relating to his own story as he sang: ‘This is who I am inside, this is who I am and I’m not gonna hide… just stand in the light and be seen as we are.’
Emotional audition: Mel B was left in tears by the audition of transgender singer Brody Ray on Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent
Brody, a home care helper for people with special needs, burst into tears at the overwhelming response, including all four judges standing for ovation, telling them: ‘It’s just been a long road to get here.’
Mel, 43, had watched the performance with tears in her eyes and a giant smile, telling him after: ‘I think your soul comes out when you sing because I can actually feel and hear your passion.’
Howie Mandel, 62, told Brody he had ‘a really amazing story that’s inspirational,’ and clearly moved Brody again when he referred to the lyrics and told him: ‘You’re right now standing in the light.’
Simon Cowell, 58, also called him ‘inspirational,’ and insisted: ‘You’ve got an amazing voice. I really like you — you’re a great guy.’
Inspirational story: Brody Ray shared his inspirational story on the NBC talent competition show
High praise: Simon Cowell told Brody that he had an ‘amazing voice’
Recommending he take on his own material rather than covers, he predicted: ‘I actually think you could be a force to be reckoned with, I do.’
Heidi Klum, 45, had a similar message, calling him ‘absolutely incredible’ and stressing: ‘Everyone was on their feet — you’re going to go very, very far I think.’
Brody almost buckled to his knees at the response, and had more tears as host Tyra Banks, 44, hugged him backstage and told him: ‘I’m just so happy for you.’
Getting emotional: Brody got emotional after the positive response from the audiences and judges
‘It’s just taken so long to get comfortable and confident with myself and my body and my voice. It’s finally that moment that it’s all coming together,’ he told Tyra through sobs.
Earlier, Brody talked of growing up a tomboy who suddenly felt ‘helpless and hopeless’ when he realized ‘inside I was a man, a boy’ and ‘I know I’m different but I can’t help it.’
‘It was like I was trapped in a burning building,’ he recalled of puberty. ‘I just didn’t want to go on. The one thing that got me through was my music and my singing. It was giving me something to live for and to stay alive for and to fight for.
Burning building: The singer talked about his struggle with gender identity as a youth
Growing up: The contestant grew up as a girl named Natalie
Felt hopeless: Brody said he felt hopeless growing up as a girl but feeling like a boy
‘Now that I’m fully transitioned people are seeing me as I really am.
‘This show is an amazing place where all sorts of people are accepted and seen for who they are and what their talents are and so I’m here today as my real self. I’m ready to be Brody.’
The fifth round of auditions also featured an amazing performance by a musician suffering a seemingly career-destroying condition — losing the feeling in his hands.
Nailed it: The singer rejoiced after nailing his rendition of Jordan Smith’s Stand In The Light
Violinist Brian King Joseph explained how three years ago he was diagnosed with neuropathy, saying that it ‘make my nerves die slowly and very, very painfully’ and had already left his hands mostly numb.
‘I can’t feel the strings when I play — I use the muscle memory from my fingers,’ he said, admitting: ‘This is maybe my last performance before I maybe don’t have any feelings in both my hands. So tonight I’m not going to go quietly into the night — I’m going to go loudly into the night.’
Despite insisting the pain was ’24-7′ and ‘like all the nerves in my body are screaming at the same time,’ he grinned as he vowed: ‘I’m just going to keep hope and keep positivity and keep this smile. I won’t take no for an answer to life.’
Overcoming obstacles: Brian King Joseph explained how three years ago he was diagnosed with neuropathy
Brian then had the audience cheering and standing during his wild performance, dancing around the stage with clear delight — and leaving Heidi to run up and hug and kiss him as he broke into tears at the response.
‘I mean wow!’ she told him. ‘I felt your music, I love you, I love your smile. You just have it! I’m so happy that you came today.’
Mel said he ‘lit this whole entire stage up’ and called him ‘amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing,’ while Simon praised his ‘fantastic attitude to life,’ adding: ‘Your smile when you’re performing is very infectious — I think this is my favorite audition today.’
No feeling: The violinist was losing the feeling in his hands due to his neuropathy
Tender moment: Heidi Klum rushed up to the stage to congratulate Brian
Lit up: Mel B told the violinist that he lit up the stage during his performance
Howie then insisted: ‘You are not only a lesson in great talent and great spirit, but you’re a lesson in how each person watching in this moment should be living their life right now. It is you, it’s all about you right now.’
‘That kid is a star,’ Howie told the others after Brian left the stage, with Heidi calling it ‘everything’ and Simon saying: ‘What a great guy.’
‘It’s beyond my wildest dreams. I’m in heaven right now,’ Brian told Tyra backstage.
The judges: Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi and Simon Cowell evaluated the acts
While most competitors hope the show will change their life, the judges predicted a particularly scintillating turnaround for one self-confessed 20-year-old virgin.
Joseph O’Brien stunned the judges when he admitted that not only has he never had a girlfriend he has ‘never gone on a legit date or anything like that.’
‘But you’re a handsome fella, how is that possible?’ Heidi asked, confusing him when she used British slang for kissing as she asked: ‘So have you ever snogged anyone then?’
Never kissed: Joseph O’Brien, 20, stunned the judges when he admitted that he’s never been on a legit date
Good question: Heidi asked the singer if he’s ever ‘snogged’ anyone
‘No, I have not. No kissing, no — it’s not happened,’ he admitted.
But after his heartfelt reworking of Lionel Richie’s Hello alone at the keyboards, Simon said: ‘I really do like you, and I’ve got to tell you I think there will be a lot of snogging after people see this audition.’
Tyra also told him: ‘A lot of girls gonna be sliding into your DMS being like, ”Hello, hola.” You get ready.’
Be ready: Tyra Banks advised Joseph to be ready for girls sliding into his DMs
Howie, meanwhile, had an unexpected blast from the past when he realized a pensioner trying out was someone doing stand-up alongside him when he started his own comedy career 40 years ago.
‘Andy, welcome to show business!’ he proudly told Andy Huggins, insisting: ‘You’ve been waiting 40 years and I’m telling you, you’re like fine wine, it was worth the wait.’
The aging comic cracked-up the audience with his racy act, including a joke about role-playing in the bedroom with an ex, saying: ‘She was Catwoman and I was Batman… well, Alfred.’
Comic routine: Andy Huggins advanced after his racy stand-up routine
‘You’re very naughty, aren’t you?’, Simon smiled, giving him one of the three yeses he needed to get through — with only Mel rejecting him, admitting she did not understand all his jokes.
She was shown getting confused at after acts, too, with Simon asking: ‘Mel, have you been drinking ”I’ve got no sense of humor juice”?’
Howie was once again the guinea pig pulled up onstage for the most daring act of the night — with motorbike trick rider Kenny Thomas from Paris, performing stunts that ended just inches from the judge’s privates as he laid down star-shaped on the ground.
Dangerous act: Motorcycle trick rider Kenny Thomas from Paris used Howie during his act
Helmet on: Howie kept his helmet on after surviving the dangerous routine
‘Howie, I’m glad to say after that act — you’ve still got balls,’ Simon joked, telling the rider: ‘I think this exactly the act we should have on America’s Got Talent.’
As Howie walked back clearly shocked after the act, Simon also joked: ‘Kenny, I’ve just been told there was a fault on one of the cameras so we’re going to have to do that again.’
Illusionist Rob Lake, meanwhile, got both Heidi and Tyra to help with his act, getting them to stand on a table onstage with a number of audience members watching as he appeared alongside them despite having walked out of the theater just seconds before.
On stage: Heidi also was recruited to help out illusionist Rob Lake
‘I don’t know what happened,’ Heidi said, adding: ‘I mean wow, I loved it.’
‘You have magic powers — you do,’ Simon told him, adding: ‘This is exactly what you should be doing.’
Troy James, meanwhile, played up how boring his life is working in Human Resources — before electrifying the audience with his amazing contortionist act where he bent over backward and walked around like a spider.
Magic moment: Tyra and Heidi pulled down a curtain together
Shocking moment: The illusionist shocked host Tyra Banks
‘Oh my God!’ Mel repeatedly screeched, while Tyra pretended to be sick — with Troy ending his routine by completely collapsing flat with his body totally folded up.
‘It was like the Exorcist where Linda Blair does all that stuff,’ Simon told him, with Howie adding: ‘I would love to see you star in a horror film.’
‘It was weird, it was absolutely disturbing, and I absolutely loved it,’ Heidi told him, while Mel B called it ‘spooky but great.’
Contortionist routine: Troy James amazed the audience with his contortionist routine
Big ending: The incredible routine ended with Troy striking an unusual pose
Loved it: Heidi loved the act and voted yes to advance Troy to the next round
Troy told them he was ‘born flexible’ and ‘thought everyone could do it,’ joking: ‘Once I led the office warm-up stretch routine… long story short I’m not allowed to lead the office warm-up stretch routine anymore.’
Acrobatic jump rope dancer Vivien Vajda bust into tears at the enthusiastic praise from the judges, telling them she had been ‘bullied a lot,’ saying: ‘My teammates and my coach turned against me. And they always told me that I’m ridiculous, that I’m the clown of the club.’
‘But where are they and look at you,’ Mel told her, with Heidi adding: ‘Yeah, you just told them.’
Jump rope: Vivien Vajda won over the crowd with her jump rope routine
Howie added: ‘Being on this stage, you not only showed them, you just showed the world, your lady. You’re beautiful inside and out.’
Mel, calling it ‘brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!’ also told her: ‘I actually consider myself a pretty good jump roper myself, but those tricks that you were doing were so complicated… you are incredible, young lady.’
Simon, meanwhile, insisted: ‘You remind me why I love this show. I love the variety, and this is the absolute definition of variety on a show like America’s Got Talent.’
Showed them: The Hungarian jump roper said she was bullied while pursuing her craft
Glennis Grace, 39, explained how she gave up her dreams of being a singer when her 11-year-old son was born — then stunned everyone by sounding almost identical to Whitney Houston on the superstar’s song Run To You.
‘You look amazing, you sound amazing… I feel like I’m looking at a star already,’ Simon told her, adding: ‘I’m thrilled that you’ve come on this show. You’re just such an amazing artist. I mean incredible.’
Calling her ‘absolutely incredible,’ Heidi added: ‘Possibly the best compliment I can give you is you do sound so much like Whitney Houston, it’s unbelievable.’
Powerful voice: Glennis Grace revived her dream of singing after giving it up when her 11-year-old son was born
Howie added: ‘The only reason you’re not a star yet is we haven’t seen you and we haven’t heard you. And how lucky are we that we get to watch you explode on this stage tonight.’
Easily the biggest twist of the night came from ‘French Accent,’ aka comedian Kevin Bennett, who got three buzzes to leave during his act — just for Heidi and Mel to end up laughing so much they took them back and helped vote him through.
‘Thank you, you are saving my life right now!’ he told them, joking when Simon still gave a no: ‘There’s got to be a villain!’
Fan favorite: French Accent after getting red X’s from Heidi and Mel won them over and both reversed their votes
Howie had insisted of the dead-pan act full of corny one-liners: ‘Here’s a guy who made the three X-es really funny, made what was going on in this room really funny… I loved it.’
Dr Stephen Eisenberg did not have similar luck when the judges buzzed him off for his singing — but at least his mother gave him a huge vote of confidence, coming onstage and arguing with the judges as they voted him off.
‘It’s not about his voice it’s about his heart,’ she pleaded, with Heidi telling her; ‘I love that about him too. He’s just not a singer.’
The doctor told them how he started writing songs to cheer up his patients, with Mel joking: ‘If that’s the way you sing to your patients… maybe put the radio on.’
America’s Got Talent will return next week on NBC.
Singing doctor: Dr Stephen Eisenberg performed a song that he delivers to patients
Protective mother: The contestant’s mother lobbied for the judges to keep him on the show