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Blind singer with autism blows away ‘America’s Got Talent’ judges during premiere

LOS ANGELES, Ca. – America’s Got Talent season 14 premiere was full of cheers, tears, and a jaw-dropping performance. Musician Kodi Lee, who is blind and has autism, captivated both the judges and the audience during last night’s premiere. The golden buzzer earned the talented 22-year-old an express ticket to the live shows.

Lee’s mother Tina told the show’s judges that he loved music “really early on.”

“He listened and his eyes just went huge and he started singing,” she said. “I realized he’s an entertainer. 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.

Tina helped her son to the piano, then he performed a rendition of “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway. The four judges and the audience rose to their feet when Lee finished his stirring performance.

Judge Gabrielle Union hit the Golden Buzzer, meaning Lee will advance to the live shows.

“What just happened there was extraordinary,” judge Simon Cowell said. “I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.”

“America’s Got Talent” has major changes in store for Season 14, according to the show’s executive producer and judge, Simon Cowell. Joining Cowell at the judges table will be “Talent” staple Howie Mandel, actress Gabrielle Union and dancer Julianne Hough. Mel B and Heidi Klum have departed the show, Cowell said in an interview with USA Today, due to busy work schedules.

Mel B has an upcoming Spice Girls reunion tour, while Klum is working on a new Amazon show with Tim Gunn. Taking over regular hosting duties for Tyra Banks will be Terry Crews.

Cowell described the changes as standard for a long-running show.

“It wasn’t like it wasn’t working. Everyone who’s been on the show over the years, judge or host, has done a brilliant job. It’s just one of those shows where I think occasionally they just like to rotate the panel,” Cowell said

As for the show’s structure, it will remain the same, with the auditions taped and live shows featuring those who advance starting in mid-summer.

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