Entertainment & Arts

America's Got Talent: The 13-year-old Brit who got the golden buzzer

Courtney Hadwin Image copyright NBC
Image caption Courtney Hadwin surprised the judges with her original voice and performance

A 13-year-old from County Durham has wowed the judges of America's Got Talent, earning herself Howie Mandel's golden buzzer.

Courtney Hadwin will go straight to the live shows after her performance on Tuesday's episode of the talent show.

The teen performed a high-octane version of Otis Redding's Hard to Handle - seemingly totally at odds with her shy demeanour just moments before.

Courtney said getting the golden buzzer was more than she "could have dreamed".

The schoolgirl from Peterlee will now be in the running for the $1m (£750,000) prize money on the NBC show.

In the audition, Courtney initially comes on stage and awkwardly answers judge Mel B's questions. She shakily admits to being "very nervous" as the Spice Girl attempts to allay her fears.

But once the music begins, Courtney sparks to life with her jerky dance moves and Steven Tyler-esque voice.

Both the audience and the judges are left open-mouthed with surprise at the unique performance.

For the rest of the song the audience are on their feet, as she belts out the 1968 song - and the performance finishes with a standing ovation from everyone in the auditorium.

"Bloody hell, Courtney!" exclaims Simon Cowell, once the 13-year-old has finished, describing her as a "lion" when she sings.

Judge Howie Mandel goes on to liken her to Janis Joplin. "Oh my gosh. You are not from this era," he says seeming disappointed he can't offer her a record deal there and then.

"The only thing I can do for you, young lady, is give you... my golden buzzer!" Mandel says as he strikes the buzzer on the judges' desk.

Each judge gets to press the golden buzzer only once per series for acts they think deserve to go straight to the quarter finals, bypassing the next rounds of auditions.

Host Tyra Bank adds: "You were absolutely amazing. I've never seen anything like that."

Courtney seems overwhelmed by the response, crying and thanking Howie and the audience. She later tweeted saying it was "more than I ever could have dreamed of".

Before she sang, Hadwin's father explained that his daughter was so shy and reclusive she had a hard time talking with people or making friends, and communicated best through her singing.

Courtney competed in The Voice Kids UK last year but missed out on the top prize. She has also sung locally in Hartlepool, but America's Got Talent opens up a whole new audience for the schoolgirl.

She's not the first British act to do well in America's Got Talent, with Wimbledon ventriloquist Paul Zerdin winning the 2015 series.

A spokesperson said overseas acts are able to take part in the show's auditions on visitor visas, and producers work with them to obtain the correct performer visas if they progress to the live shows.

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