Brandon Leake was ready to make history on Tuesday night’s episode (June 30) of America’s Got Talent by auditioning as the show’s first-ever poet.
Stepping onto the stage of the empty theater, the high-school-English-teacher-turned-college-counselor explained poetry to the judges panel, including a befuddled Simon Cowell. “I’m a great intro for you [to poetry],” he said. “I bring more about life experience, things that everyday people go through…I only perform stuff that I write, never be able to perform anything else.”
He then launched into an inspiring poem about his younger sister’s death. “I have two facts for you/ One, I’m six feet tall/ And two, love is the most vulnerable thing one will ever have/ And you must learn to hold on to it loosely/ So when it leaves, it won’t exit so painfully,” he declared in the opening stanza before powerfully detailing the emotions behind his late sister’s passing as a toddler.
Leake’s performance was initially met with a stunned silence, until judge Howie Mandel jumped to his feet to give the poet a standing ovation. Revealing her brother passed away the same year as the young poet’s sister, Sofia Vergara offered supportive feedback, saying, “I can feel your pain. I know what this is, I know what it is to have somebody taken from you without you knowing. But it was very beautiful for me.”
Blown away by the spoken word artist’s talent, Cowell even admitted didn’t feel qualified to pass judgement on the performance. “What an amazing tribute. There’s something very, very special about you. Really. This is a very difficult thing for me to judge. I shouldn’t be judging it. I just want to compliment you on what you just did, because it was extraordinary,” he told Leake before Mandel sent AGT hopeful through to the live shows by hitting his Golden Buzzer.
Watch Leake’s emotional performance below.