Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY
Published 10:02 p.m. ET June 30, 2020
The Brothers Gage auditioned in March before âAmericaâs Got Talentâ judges, but not a cheering audience, as the show adjusts to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Spoiler alert! This story contains details from the June 30 episode of âAmericaâs Got Talent.â
âAmericaâs Got Talentâ headed into uncharted territory Tuesday.Â
TheÂ sixth day of auditions, which was taped in March, marked the first episode of Season 15 impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,Â before countrywide lockdown orders sidelinedÂ entertainment production.
âI had a nightmare that I would be 90 years old doing this show and nobody would be watching it,â judge Simon Cowell said while looking back to the empty Pasadena Civic Auditorium. âAnd here we are.â
Aside from crew members and hostÂ Terry Crews, that meant there were only four people inÂ the audience Tuesday: Cowell,Â SofÃa Vergara,Â Howie Mandel and guest judgeÂ Eric Stonestreet, who filled in for a sick Heidi Klum.
âThis is what an audition is actually like,â Cowell said. âThis is going to be much harder for them.â
Although the audience was missing, the talent was not.Â
Brandon Leake, a 27-year-old college counselor from Stockton, California, shocked the judges with an emotionally poetic spoken-word performance, a first on the âAGTâ stage.Â
âTonightâs poem is actually an ode to my sister. â¦ Sheâs here with me now,â Leake said, leading Mandel to ask if sheÂ was backstage.Â âKind of,â Leake replied.
Leake proceeded to vocalizeÂ the painful processÂ of mourning and accepting the death of his youngerÂ sister, Danielle Marie Gibson, who died in 1997, the same year Vergara lost her brother. Gibson was only 8 months old.
âMy brother passed away the same year that your sister passed away,â an emotional Vergara said.Â âI can feel your pain. I know what this is. I know what it is to have somebodyÂ taken from you without you knowing, but it was very beautiful for me.â
Mandel applauded LeakeâsÂ creativity and vulnerability.Â
âItâs amazing to me that on Season 15 itâs the first time weâre hearing â¦ spoken word,â the comedian said. âThere was something more, so raw. Itâs like singing and talking and just being a human a cappella. No music, no nothing. Just a raw heart beating in front of us. We feel your pain. We feel your love and you moved me to do this.â
Mandel hit the Golden Buzzer as just five pairs of hands clapped, sendingÂ Leake straight to the live final shows. All of the judges and Crews have now used their Golden Buzzers.
Cowell called his act an âamazing tribute.â He continued: âThere is something very, very special about you. This is a very difficult thing for me to judge, I shouldnât be judging it. I just want to compliment you on what you just did, because it was extraordinary.â
âAmericaâs Got Talentâ returns on NBCÂ July 14 for the last audition show of the season.Â
Last week onÂ âAGTâ:Sofia Vergara falls in her haste to get away from shocking eye-bulging rapper
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