11-Year-Old Tyler Butler-Figueroa wows audience on AGT
Raleigh’s pint-sized violin phenom made another big splash on “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night, with a rousing performance of Ariana Grande’s “Break Free.”
But before the big show by Tyler Butler-Figueroa, an 11-year-old student at Walnut Creek Elementary School, the audience was primed by an achingly adorable introduction by Tyler’s little brother, Adam.
“When I grow up I want to be just like Tyler,” Adam started. “He’s funny. He’s kind. ... I’m so proud of him being on ‘America’s Got Talent’ — it’s like he’s my superhero. He’s the bravest person in the whole entire world, because he’s been going through a lot, so I think he’s way braver than Batman. Even though he can’t fly in the sky, he’s way better.
“I hope Tyler will make it to the finals because I love him to the moon and back.”
There was barely time to choke back the lump in America’s collective throats when Tyler made his way to the stage through the audience, surrounded by a group of kids — all cancer survivors — holding up glowing torches.
When Tyler finished, the entire audience — judges included — jumped to their feet and streamers poured from the ceiling. The audience chanted his name. “TY-LER! TY-LER! TY-LER!”
Judge Simon Cowell, who awarded Tyler the Golden Buzzer pass on his first appearance, was first to comment.
“Your story is unbelievable and we’ve talked about this a lot, but now I want to talk about your musicianship and what a brilliant musician you are, what a great showman you are. Just how gutsy you were just then to put on a performance that defines the words ‘joy’ and ‘talent.’ My huge congratulations.”
Judge Juliana Hough also commented: “Your performance went above and beyond what we’ve seen. Your greatest trial has now become your greatest triumph.”
Host Terry Crews asked Tyler what he’d like to say to the audience and Tyler said: “Follow your dreams and never give up.”
A little background on Tyler
In his on-air audition in June, Tyler blew away the judges with a performance of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).”
In his first live show performance, during the Aug. 20 quarterfinals, Tyler performed “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin, and was voted through to the semifinals by viewers.
Tyler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was four-and-a-half-years-old. He underwent three years of chemotherapy and recently celebrated four years being cancer-free.
Another Raleigh act to come
On next week’s semifinal performance show (Tuesday, Sept. 10), we’ll get to see Voices of Service, a military quartet featuring Raleigh native Christal Sanders Rheams.
How to vote
Voting happens online at NBC.com or through the “America’s Got Talent” mobile app.
For all the details on voting, click the related story link at the end of this story.
We’ll find out on Wednesday night’s results show (8 p.m. on NBC) if Tyler moves on to the finals, which airs Sept. 17 with the winner announced on the Sept. 18 show.