LOS ANGELES — The legacy of Jane Marczewski -- the Ohio native better known as Nightbirde of America’s Got Talent -- made a major impact on the season premiere of AGT Tuesday night.
In an emotional moment that brought judge Simon Cowell to tears, the Mzansi Youth Choir from South Africa paid tribute to Nightbirde by performing her original song It’s OK.
“This brought back so many memories for me. Gosh, give me one second,” Cowell paused with emotion. “I know how much this would’ve meant to her. It would. Right until the end, she was so passionate about sharing her music. This has gone all over the world, and you’ve come back here with the most amazing tribute. It was just breathtaking. Honestly.”
That’s when the live audience started chanting: “Golden Buzzer! Golden Buzzer!”
And with that, AGT history was made.
“I want to suggest something. We’ve never done this before, but we’ve always discussed one day giving the audience something,” Cowell said while turning to the cheering crowd as they continued their chant.
That's when all four judges and host Terry Crews hit the Golden Buzzer on behalf of the entire live audience. That means the Mzansi Youth Choir now moves straight to the live shows.
You can watch the entire Golden Buzzer moment in the video below:
"I’ll always remember Nightbirde," judge Howie Mandel told the choir. "To see that it touched people on the other side of the globe, unbelievable. You deserve so much more than a yes, and to be here you deserve a thank you. Thank you so much."
This marks the second time a performance of It's OK earned a Golden Buzzer on AGT as Cowell gave Nightbirde that same honor for her show-stopping performance two years ago.
“When we heard Nightbirde sing the song on this stage, we were very inspired and touched by her story that we decided to record the song,” one member of the Mzansi Youth Choir said after their performance. “To our surprise, she responded so beautifully. This song has been such a pillar of strength for us as a choir through difficult times. We just want to continue her legacy, and that’s why we chose the song.”
Shortly before appearing on the AGT live shows, Nightbirde left the competition after announcing her health had taken a turn for the worse.
Nightbirde, a native of Zanesville, died on Feb. 19, 2021.
As she shared details throughout her battle with cancer, Nightbirde maintained a positive attitude.
“It’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me," she said.
Nightbirde was 31 years old.