A blind autistic singer has won applause the world over after an astonishing performance on America’s Got Talent that left audience members and judges alike open-mouthed in shock.
Kodi Lee, 22, appeared on the show on Tuesday night, accompanied by his mother, Tina, who explained that her son developed a love of music, and an incredible singing talent, ‘very early on’ in his life, sharing that she knew he was ‘an entertainer’ from a young age.
‘We found out that he loved music really early on,’ she said. ‘He listened and his eyes just went huge. And he started singing, and that’s when I was in tears, because I realized he is an entertainer.
Astonishing: Blind autistic singer Kodi Lee, 22, left the America’s Got Talent judges and audience open-mouthed in shock when he sat down at the piano to perform a tear-jerking rendition of Leon Russell’s A Song For You
Support: Kodi was accompanied on the show by his beloved mother Tina Lee, who told the judges that her son developed a love of music at a very young age
Talent: ‘We found out that he loved music really early on. He listened and his eyes just went huge. And he started singing, and that’s when I was in tears, because I realized he is an entertainer,’ she revealed
‘Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world, because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everybody else does.
‘It has actually saved his life, playing music.’
After telling the judges that he was going to ‘sing a song for you’, an excited Kodi then sat down at the piano, where he received a quick pep talk from his mother, before she left him on the stage to perform.
While she watched on, Kodi proceeded to perform a spine-tingling rendition of Leon Russell’s A Song For You, a hit that has been tackled by some of the world’s greatest singers, including Michael Buble and Elton John.
Upon hearing his sensational voice, all four judges – Simon Cowell, Julianne Hough, Gabrielle Union, and Howie Mandel – were left open-mouthed in shock, while several audience members were seen tearing up.
Awe-inspiring: As soon as Kodi began singing, the room went silent, and many mouths dropped open in shock
Special: Tina said of her son’s talents, ‘Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world, because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everybody else does’
After telling the judges that he was going to ‘sing a song for you’, an excited Kodi then sat down at the piano, where he received a quick pep talk from his mother, before she left him on the stage to perform
Sensational: The singer received a well-earned standing ovation after finishing his performance
As he finished his 40-second-long performance, the entire room got to its feet, giving Kodi a very well deserved standing ovation, while both Julianne and Gabrielle were seen wiping away tears – along with several people in the audience behind them.
‘I can’t stop crying!’ Julianne admitted, while Howie told Kodi: ‘I will tell you that all four judges and everybody in this room were up on their feet. You were wonderful. Not only do we feel the authenticity of what you do, but you are a great inspiration and a great talent, and it was amazing.’
‘I know everybody needs a voice and an expression, and I really feel your heart, your passion,’ Julianne added. ‘Your voice blew all of us away. I just want to say that I heard you and I felt you and that was beautiful.’
A stunned Simon was also blown away by the performance, telling Kodi and his mother: ‘What just happened there was extraordinary. Really extraordinary.
‘I don’t know what it’s like to live in Kodi’s world – all I can tell is that you obviously have an amazing relationship, the two of you. And your voice is absolutely fantastic. You have a really beautiful tone.
‘Thank you so much for trusting us on this show. I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.’
Spectacular: A stunned Simon Cowell was blown away by the performance, telling Kodi and his mother: ‘What just happened there was extraordinary. Really extraordinary’
Blown away: All of the judges were left stunned by Kodi’s performance, with both Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough tearing up as Kodi continued to play
Emotional: ‘I can’t stop crying,’ Julianne admitted, before telling Kodi, ‘I just want to say that I heard you and I felt you and that was beautiful’
Gabrielle then concluded the judges’ comments, saying: ‘I’m a new judge this season, and I’m also a new mom this year. It’s the toughest job I have ever had, and the most rewarding job I have ever had. You just want to give your kids the moon, the stars, and the rainbows, and tonight I’m going to give you something special.’
The 46-year-old then hit the golden buzzer, sending Kodi straight through to the live shows, and leaving Kodi and his elated family in tears.
Drawing Kodi into a warm hug, Simon told him: ‘This is Simon. I’m so proud of you. That was quite amazing.’
‘You just changed the world,’ Gabrielle added.
And it wasn’t just those in the theater that were left in awe of Kodi’s talents – social media was also flooded with posts from stunned viewers praising the 22-year-old’s incredible abilities, including Oprah Winfrey.
‘Loved this moment so much!’ she wrote, before admitting: ‘Stood up and cheered in my living room.’
Others readily confessed that they were left in floods of tears after Kodi’s performance, with one person writing: ‘I cried and also felt his beautiful energy!’
Celebration: Kodi was awarded the golden buzzer by Gabrielle, and was given a huge congratulatory hug by his mother
Happy day! Gabrielle and her fellow judges joined Kodi and his family on stage to celebrate the joyful moment
Outstanding: Many audience members stood to their feet once again to applaud Kodi’s golden buzzer
‘I predict you may have the WINNER right here!’ another added. ‘What an amazingly talented young man. When he sang I teared up and had chills! Simply awesome!’
‘This was the best thing I’ve watched in a very long time. Amazing,’ one man then chimed in.
According to Kodi’s website, the talented singer is just one of 25 musical prodigious savants in the world who possess his kind of ‘extraordinary abilities’, which include perfect pitch and an audio photographic memory.
Prodigious savants are people living with severe mental disabilities who have been diagnosed with a condition known as savant syndrome, and are often also autistic. Despite their disabilities, they possess extraordinary abilities and talents in a specific field, be it art, math, science, or – as in Kodi’s case – music.
‘Kodi’s amazing gift lies within his musical expression, perfect pitch, and passion for all forms of music,’ his website says.
‘Kodi has an audio photographic memory, in which he can recall music he hears after just one listen. An unbelievable gift in itself, but his musical expression and prowess top even that.’