This week a 16-year-old “America’s Got Talent” contender proved that reality talent competitions are about much more than finding the next big star. They’re also a great platform for showcasing the resilience of the human spirit. Calysta Bevier is a teen cancer survivor whose emotional story and spectacular performance of Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” brought the audience and judges to their feet in thunderous applause. Simon Cowell also stunned everyone when he pressed the Golden Buzzer to send Bevier through to the live shows.
Cowell told her, “Calysta, I love everything about you. I just had this feeling when you walked out, I can’t explain it. Just your spirit, the choice of song, your voice. I think you’re really special. I’ve just got this really incredible feeling about you. I really do.” He noted he could hear her nerves but then added, “I predict great things are gonna happen for you. There’s something about you.”
Cowell proceeded to press the coveted Golden Buzzer which automatically catapults Bevier straight through to sing live for America’s votes. Bevier is from a small town in Ohio and she endured a fierce battle with stage III ovarian cancer last summer. Something about her dream to merely finish high school puts us all in check. She clearly has an incredible spirit and has the capacity to touch millions of lives with her victorious story and her natural vocal gift.
Emmy-winning talk show host Ellen DeGeneres became aware of Bevier and saw her YouTube cover of “Fight Song." DeGeneres invited her to her show last December to sing the inspirational anthem live with Rachel Platten. It was a Kleenex-ready performance then and it’s obvious now just how much Bevier has grown in poise, tone and skill since then.
Bevier’s lyrical declaration to dig in and fight during her AGT audition comes at a very poignant time, when our nation is still reeling from the devastating loss of innocent lives in the Orlando shooting massacre. Bevier’s own cancer struggle at such a young age seems unfathomable. Yet, something in her radiant smile sends a beaming ray of hope to hearts and homes everywhere. Simon Cowell is right. There is something very special about Calysta Bevier. It takes a lot of courage to open up and be so vulnerable in front of thousands of people in the AGT audience and she nailed it.
Bevier faces a lot of stiff vocal competition this season. Fourteen-year-old Jayna Brown also impressed Cowell with her mesmerizing rendition of “Summertime” and the music mogul predicted 12-year-old singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal (who also earned a Golden Buzzer from Howie Mandel) would become the next Taylor Swift. Any of these three young ladies has the potential to be a huge star, regardless of how they place in their “America’s Got Talent” journey.