Courtney Hadwin is shy and reserved—until she starts singing. The 13-year-old aspiring singer from the U.K. hit the stage on America’s Got Talent Tuesday night, and her performance was so impressive that it earned her the coveted Golden Buzzer.
When she came on stage, Courtney said she was nervous, and judge Mel B calmed her down with some conversation. She said her favorite subject in school was music, and once she started singing, it became clear why.
She sang “Hard to Handle” by Otis Redding, and completely transformed. Courtney channeled Janis Joplin as she danced around the stage, hair swinging like a rock star. By the end, the entire audience—and many of the judges—were on their feet.
“Oh my gosh, you are not from this era. You’re from a whole different era,” judge Howie Mandel said. He told her the story of how Clive Davis once discovered Janis Joplin. “I’m not Clive Davis, I’m Howie Mandel, and I can’t sign you to a record deal. The only thing I can do for you, young lady, is give you [the Golden Buzzer.]”
With the Golden Buzzer, Mandel sent her straight to the live performance rounds on America’s Got Talent. Courtney was moved to tears, and her father came on stage to give her a big hug.
Previously, Courtney had competed on The Voice Kids UK, and got to the final rounds of competition there, reports. And her performance there was just as impressive—watch her sing “I Feel Good” by James Brown:
On Twitter, Courtney reflected on her big break in the States. “The golden buzzer was more than I ever could have dreamed of,” she wrote.