On the fourth and final Judge Cuts of America’s Got Talent, Season 12, 32-year-old singer Johnny Manuel gave his second performance, a Stevie Wonder song. All of the judges including guest judge Seal thought it was terrific, except Simon Cowell. Simon said “no one can sing a Stevie Wonder song better than Stevie Wonder” and he didn’t care for all the “trills.”
Simon gave Johnny another chance and asked him to sing it again for 30 seconds as himself. Simon told Johnny, “you are one of the best singers in this competition.” Seal agreed. “You hit notes I can only dream of hitting,” said Seal before he hit the Golden Buzzer. No surprise in one sense: the song he sang at Simon’s request was a Whitney Houston tune — the late great Whitney made herself a legend hitting notes other singers could only dream of. Johnny Manuel is through to the Live Shows, where he’ll have to leave the trills behind and break out the pure Donny Hathaway style he admires most. America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.