Entertainment

Downtown Raleigh knows this 11-year-old has talent. Next stop: ‘America’s Got Talent.’

We first reported on 11-year-old violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa in October last year, when he had taken to the streets of downtown Raleigh to perform for passersby and raise money to go to an audition for “America’s Got Talent” in Charlotte.

Tyler made the trip — and he made the cut.

He’ll appear on Season 14 of the NBC show, which premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 28. (Auditions can stretch over the course of several weeks on the show, so if you don’t see Tyler on the first episode, be patient.)

Tyler, a student at Walnut Creek Elementary School, is a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was four. He had three years of chemotherapy and is now in remission.

Tyler told The News & Observer in October: “I like playing the violin — it inspires me to play music for other children with the same story as me. I’m proud to be here street performing and I want to show other kids they can do what their heart tells them to do.”

Tyler appears in the Season 14 trailer for the variety competition and tells the judges from the stage: “I wanted to start playing because I was being bullied in school.”

Judge Simon Cowell asks Tyler, “How are you feeling now?”

He answers, “Really proud of myself,” and the audience erupts in applause.

Tyler’s mother, Kisua Butler-Figueroa, told The N&O in October that Tyler is trained in classical violin, but he also plays pop, country, gospel and hip-hop.

Downtown Raleigh pedestrians fortunate enough to have caught some of Tyler’s rousing, amplified performances in person know how talented he is, so he should have a lot of fans supporting him throughout his “AGT” journey.

You can follow Tyler on Facebook, Instagram, Instagram and YouTube.

Watch “America’s Got Talent”

“America’s Got Talent” will have a new host this season — Terry Crews — and two new judges: Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough. Longtime judges Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell return.

The judges pick contestants in the early part of the season, but once performers make it to the live rounds later in the season, the public will vote to help them advance. (Something new on the show this year is a “Golden Buzzer,” which will send someone straight from the first audition to the live shows.) The winner receives a $1 million cash prize and a chance to headline a show in Vegas.

The show airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC.

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Brooke Cain is a North Carolina native who has worked at The News & Observer for more than 20 years. She writes about TV and local media for the Happiness is a Warm TV blog, and answers CuriousNC questions for readers.
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