Mel B was left ‘shaking’ with tears during Tuesday’s season premiere of America’s Got Talent after an act brought up feelings about her father’s recent death.
The 13th season of the NBC talent show opened with a wide variety of acts, including trained cats, dance and acrobatic troupes, singers, magicians.
Someone even tried out for a spot on the judges’ table.
Season premiere: Mel B wiped away tears during the season premiere of America’s Got Talent on Tuesday as a family band performed a tribute song to their late mother
It was the family band We Three, however, that had former Spice Girls star Mel, 43, at times speechless with tears as they sang a self-penned song in tribute to their mother who died of cancer two years ago.
Mel – whose dad Martin Brown died March last year at age 63 after a five year battle with cancer – started getting emotional early during the song written from the late mum’s perspective talking to her kids during her last month.
‘My baby boy is gonna lose me,’ frontman Manny, 21, sang, getting a huge sigh from the audience before adding: ‘No honey, I don’t wanna go just know that I have to. The cancer is grown, I think it’s time I go home.’
Host Tyra Banks, 44, was also left in tears watching with the equally teary-eyed dad of Manny and his bandmates, brother Joshua, 27, and sister Bethany, 24, with Mel letting out a huge sigh of emotion as their song ended.
Wet eyes: The 43-year-old judge soaked up her tears with tissue as fellow judge Howie Mandel looked on
Getting emotional: The former Spice Girls singer thought of her father Martin Brown who died in March 2017 at age 63 after a five-year battle of cancer
Late father: Mel is shown with her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte and late father Martin in November 2007 in Hollywood
‘I lost my father over a year ago to cancer so I felt like that song was meant for me and my dad was singing that to me so … I just felt it, I’m shaking,’ Mel finally told them, the pain etched on her face as tears ran down her eyes.
‘It was really, really good, thank you,’ she added.
She was still so upset that she could not find words when asked if she was sending them through, merely giving a thumbs up.
Standing ovation: Howie, Mel, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell gave the group We Three a standing ovation
Felt it: Mel told the band she felt like the song was meant for her and that it left her shaking
When fellow judge Howie Mandel, 62, asked if she was OK she shook her head for no.
Mel asked for a two-minute break to compose herself and show producers obliged her request.
It was not just the lyrics and heartbreak of the original song that touched the judges who also prayed their amazing harmonies and musicianship.
Looking on: Show host Tyra Banks watched the band perform along with their father
‘I’m always struggling with live bands on shows like this,’ Simon Cowell, 58, warned. ‘But somehow the whole thing worked, it felt like a record.
‘There’s something really special about you guys. I honestly think we’re at the start of something big here,’ he declared.
The pain of losing a parent also inspired another of the stand-out performances from the premiere, with all four judges falling over themselves with praise for 14-year-old rapper Flau’jae.
High praise: The trio were praised by the judges for their harmonies
Really special: Simon told the group that there was something ‘really special’ about them
She sang a powerful anti-gun number after revealing that her dad was also a rapper, named Camoflauge, but was shot dead outside his recording studio in Savannah, Georgia before she was even born.
‘He died before I was born so he couldn’t fulfill his dream. So that’s what I’m here to do,’ Flau’jae told the judges, having said earlier: ‘Tonight I have my father behind me. I’m ready to take on the world.’
Delivering her lyrics with a powerful mix of strength and emotion, she opened her rap song with the words: ‘If you would have put that gun down, then he would have been here right now.’
Late rapper: Flau’jae was performing to fulfill the dreams of her late rapper father Camouflage who was gunned down outside his Savannah, Georgia recording studio in 2003 at age 21
‘Do you know what it’s like to not have a father? No one to talk to when you get mad at your mama?’ she continued, before ending the song by stating: ‘Everybody put your guns down.’
The teen broke into tears at the huge ovation she got, with Mel calling her ‘so on point and so honest’ and Howie insisting ‘we need’ songs like hers.
‘I am so happy that there’s a 14-year-old girl like you writing a song like that because so many kids are listening,’ Heidi Klum, 44, said.
Huge ovation: The teenager broke into tears as the audience gave her a huge ovation
Simon told her: ‘Even though I don’t know a lot about rap music, I do know talent. And right now I believe we are witnessing the start of somebody’s career big time, I really do. This has been my favorite audition by a clear mile.’
After calling out her mom Kia Jones onstage – with her crying she was ‘so proud of her’ – Simon then went backstage to hug the youngster.
‘That was incredible. What you just did there was so important and fantastic. I’m thrilled for you,’ he told her.
Favorite audition: Simon insisted that the rap was his favorite audition ‘by a clear mile’
Howie, meanwhile, insisted: ‘I hope America all puts their guns down and spends time voting for you.’
Mel had also referred to her personal pain – which has included a high-profile nasty divorce battle as well as the death of her father – after watching hilarious comedienne Vicki Barbolak.
‘So many things have happened to me in the last year I said to myself, ”All I wanna do is laugh.” You just made me properly belly laugh,’ Mel told the stand-up. ‘I love you.’
Stand-up routine: Vicki Barbolak received a round of compliments after her stand-up routine
Howie had even higher praise, telling Vicki: ‘I’ve always felt there was this huge void for female comics now that Joan Rivers is no longer with us. You know something? Tonight, in this moment, you just filled that void. You’re so wonderful.’
Simon, meanwhile, warned her that he is not a fan of stand-up comedy – before insisting: ‘You are the funniest person we’ve had on this show.
‘I think you are an absolute little star,’ he added.
Huge void: Howie went as far to say that Vicki filled the ‘huge void’ for female comics after the death of Joan Rivers
Vicki hid her face from shock as she got a huge ovation, wiping away tears as she said: ‘That was the nicest thing that’s ever happened to me.’
Tyra gave the only Golden Buzzer of the night, instantly sending through to the live rounds amazing acrobatic act Zucaroh.
‘I am collecting my breath, I need some oxygen right now,’ she gasped after the judges all gave high praise for the troupe.
Nicest thing: The comedienne got emotional and called the praise by the judges the ‘nicest thing’ that’s ever happened to her
Golden buzzer: Acrobatic act Zucaroh got the Golden Buzzer treatment from Tyra
‘I’m like freaking out right now,’ Tyra added, before finally running to the judges table and pressing the buzzer, with Simon smiling: ‘That was a good call.’
He also was full of praise, insisting: ‘There’s something in the air right now. I’ve done this a long time, and this is honestly one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen on any of these shows. I mean it was breathtaking and I’m absolutely honored that you would come on to our show.’
The troupe which specialized in incredible acrobatics with its youngest members was started as a way to escape the violence in São Paulo, Brazil, where the leader said his closest friends all ended up dead.
Freaking out: Tyra said she was ‘freaking out’ after their performance
And another dance group looking for a way out of tough times also made a huge impression, with Junior New System, a group of self-confessed ‘street children’ from the Philippines breaking down just at getting the chance to live out ‘our dream’ and be on the show.
They soon cracked up the judges by dancing in high gold stilettos, with Mel telling them: ‘The heels, the flipping the choreography… I love you!’
Howie, meanwhile, told them: ‘You guys are the epitome of dreams coming true.’
High heels: Junior New System, a group of self-confessed ‘street children’ from the Philippines, performed their dance routine in golden high heels
One of the most unexpected moments came with Scotsman Ian Brown telling them: ‘I’m not here to be on-stage talent — I’m here because I want to be a judge. On this show.’
‘This is like a job interview?’ Simon asked, before working out that Ian thought he could easily replace Howie.
‘You think you can do what I do?’ Howie asked him, with Ian saying: ‘Er… sure.’
New judge: Ian Brown auditioned to become a new judge on AGT
‘And you think you can do what I do better than what I do?’ Howie again asked, with him insisting: ‘Sure.’
He was invited up to take Howie’s seat, but was soon kicked off by Simon when he had nothing better to say about the act he saw – a man making fart noises with his hands that the others all buzzed off – than ‘very disappointing.’
‘Ian, I’m actually going to fire you. Good night,’ Simon told him, telling Howie as he returned to his seat: ‘That was like losing my arm, my friend.’
Table seat: Howie was relegated to the audience as Ian took his seat at the judges’ table and a drink from his cup
Heidi also insisted: ‘There is no one that can replace Howie Mandel.’
The most bizarre act was Fontane Umane, which appeared to be a straight-forward opera group — until the four college friends instead of singing started spitting out water while Il Divo’s My Heart Will Go On played, including into each other’s mouths.
After the initial shock — getting a buzz to leave from Simon —they soon cracked up the audience, with Mel saying after: ‘This is why I love America’s Got Talent! There is nowhere in the whole entire world you would see this apart from on this stage.
Spitting success: Fontane Umane appeared to be an opera group but they instead provided waterworks entertainment
‘It was original, it was funny — it was absolutely brilliant and it gave me a proper belly laugh.’
‘No it wasn’t!’ Simon still insisted, adding: ‘I don’t know what you guys had been drinking but I just saw four guys spitting on each other — and you get a standing ovation! It was awful.’
As the other judges sided with Mel, Simon got huge boos from the audience as he again insisted: ‘It wasn’t amazing, it was just stupid.’
Mouth to mouth: Their performance included shooting streams of water at each other from mouth to mouth
Simon was outvoted, with the others voting them through — and Tyra celebrating by spitting water in one of the performer’s mouth.
Simon was also at odds with the others for The Sacred Riana, a magician who came out dressing as a girl from a horror movie – with an identically dressed doll – before spooking them with a trick that appeared to show a character in a murder mystery standing behind Mel in a Polaroid she took.
Howie called it ‘one of the most original, creepy, wonderful magic I saw,’ and joked: ‘The magic is incredible but the horror is real.’
Her turn: Tyra got into the act after the group advanced
Horror act: The Sacred Riana performed a horror routine that creeped out the judges
‘Great, so Linda Blair wins America’s Got Talent 13, think about that,’ Simon said dismissively, referring to the famous horror movie actress.
The creepiness returned though as a photo and newspaper clipping the act left on their desk suddenly caught fire after she had already left.
Another magician, Shin Lim, had the tough job of coming on just after Simon told another magician he was getting a little bored of card trick magicians’ – and giving a sarcastic ‘whoppee’ when Shin announced he had the same act.
Next round: Mel and Heidi reacted as items left on their table by The Sacred Riana burst into flames after she left upon advancing to the next round
He brought out Tyra as his assistant, getting her to pick a card and write her name on it — then making the ink disappear and come out as a tattoo on his chest, before repeatedly finding it, even when the cards were frozen and shown to be all see-through.
‘By leaps and bounds the best sleight-of-hand close-up magic I have ever seen in my life,’ Howie insisted, while Simon called it ‘unbelievable’ and said he was ‘taking back’ his earlier comment about being bored of card tricks.
Svitlana and Marina Savitsky, the mother and daughter behind the cat gymnastics act Savitsky Cats, knew they could be in for a rough time with at least one judge, with Marina saying: ‘Everybody knows that Simon is not a cat person, but we hope that we can change his mind.’
Card tricks: Tyra was recruited as an assistant for card trick magician Shin Lim
Cat trainers: Svitlana and Marina Savitsky, the mother and daughter behind the cat gymnastics act Savitsky Cats, knew dog-lover Simon might be skeptical
The act – where their pets performed a series of gymnastic-style stunts, including a fall from high at the end – did just that, with Simon praising their performance despite the animals’ usual ‘cat-itude.’
As they were sent through, Mel called the act ‘brilliant! brilliant! brilliant!’ while Howie said: ‘I have never seen a cat do that. The beauty of this show is people come from all over the world to show us things we’ve never seen before — and you did that.’
America’s Got Talent will return next week on NBC with more auditions.
Darci Lynne Farmer, 13, last season won the show’s prize of $1 million and a headlining performance in Las Vegas with her ventriloquist singing act.
That’s amazing: Season 13 of AGT started with trained acrobatic cats
For real: Cats during the routine behaved like trained dogs performing stunts on command including jumping through a hoop