Manuel, 32, shared that when he was just 14, he worked with big hip-hop producers Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jermaine Dupri, while also touring with NSYNC. Unfortunately, only three years later, Manuel was absolutely devastated when the record label suddenly dropped him and his dream of stardom was shattered. Manuel’s parents said, “We were just praying that something would bring him back to life. And then ‘America’s Got Talent’ came along.”
In his first AGT audition, Manuel performed Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” and totally impressed judge Simon Cowell. Unfortunately, in his second audition this week, when Manuel performed Stevie Wonder’s “Lately”, Cowell was less than impressed. Heidi Klum and Mel B thought he was amazing, but Cowell said, “I thought it was quite annoying. I like, Johnny, when you do something we don’t expect. Whereas I’ve heard a lot of people sing Stevie Wonder like that. Just give me 30 seconds of the song you sang before.” So, Manuel, on the fly, belted out his Whitney rendition … and it was flawless.
Guest judge Seal was so impressed by Manuel that he couldn’t help but tell the contestant, “You know, Johnny, you have such an incredible voice. It is undeniable. You hit notes that I could only dream of. I was always taught that you have to be ready at every situation. You never know when opportunity is gonna knock on your door. Simon said to you, ‘Give me something a cappella,’ and you didn’t flinch.”
It was then that the legendary singer stood up with his hand hovering over the golden buzzer, and then officially sent Manuel through to the live shows with a very special golden seal of approval.
Check out a woman hanging on to her brother’s beard for dear life in an unbelievable roller-skating stunt on AGT:
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