America’s Got Talent Stars Then And Now

By Carole 1 year ago

Bianca Ryan - THEN

Image source: The US Sun 
Bianca Ryan was only 11 years old when she became the first ever winner of America's Got Talent.  Her powerful vocals and renditions of classics such as 'Dreamgirls', 'And I am Telling You' and 'I am Changing', totally stunned the judges as well as the viewers which led to Bianca's victory.

Bianca Ryan - NOW

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The world was Bianca oyster's oyster after scooping the top prize but that was until multiple vocal surgeries and a paralyzed vocal cord put her career on hold for 10 years. Ryan returned to the stage for the Champions edition of AGT in 2020 and has since created new music.

Terry Fator - THEN

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When Terry Fator stepped on the stage in season 2 of AGT, accompanied by his collection of puppets, eyes rolled that it could all be a bit tacky.  The opposite could not have been more true as Terry's impersonations of Etta James and Kermit The Frog sent the audience crazy.  That was in 2007 and Fator took home the $1 million winner's prize.

Terry Fator - NOW

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Audiences across America couldn't get enough of Terry Fator and he has made guest appearances on six different seasons of AGT.
has had residencies at the Las Vegas Hilton and The Mirage and headlined a new show, 'Who's the Dummy Now?' at the New Yok Hotel and Casino in Vegas.

Neal E Boyd - THEN

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Opera singer, Neil E Boyd, auditioned on AGT with Puccini’s "Nessun Dorma".  The whole place went from being silent, as they listened to his powerful voice, to erupting with applause and shouting, at the sheer talent of this guy.  Not surprising that Neil hit the jackpot, with the $1 million grand prize.

Neal E Boyd - NOW

mage source: The New York Time
Neil won a spot in a show at MGM's Grand Garden Arena.  He then went on to release an album, '"My American Dream", as well as running for the Missouri House of Representatives on two occasions.  Neil embraced his fame until his untimely passing in 2018 at the age of 42.

Kevin Skinner - THEN

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Season 4 on AGT and Kevin Skinner took to the stage.  The unassuming chicken catcher started his audition singing Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes,"  Skinner proved that he already had the voice of some of America's most famous country stars.  It was no surprise hen he won the show, a very popular choice.

Kevin Skinner - NOW

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Kevin Skinner chose to have his $1 million money prize paid out over the next 40 years. He released his album, 'Long Ride' in 2010 which, unfortunately, did not chart and his popularity waned.  In addition to this, Kevin’s wife left him in 2012 and he withdrew from public view.  Since then, he has not released any further music.

Michael Grimm - THEN

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During the AGT finals, Michael Grimm revealed that his girlfriend of 3 years, Lucie Zolcerova, was the inspiration for his performance of "When a Man Loves a Woman". The blues singer's soulful sound catapulted him to the top spot in the competition and the $1 million prize money.

Michael Grimm - NOW

Image source: The List
Since his win, Michael Grimm headlined the first ever AGT Tour and has released multiple albums, touring all across the country.  He also made an appearance on AGT: The Champions in 2020.  You may have caught him at The Smith Center in Vegas or on his successful Alaskan tour.

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. - THEN

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This American jazz singer from West Virginia won the 6th season of AGT.  During his appearances on each round of the show, he effortlessly sang renditions of Sinatra and the crowd couldn't get enough of him.  He was totally shocked when his name was announced as the winner.

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. - NOW

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In the years since his win, Landau has released four albums including his 2011 debut album 'That's Life' which reached number 1 on the Billboard jazz charts.  These days, Murphy uses his platform to give back to his native West Virginia. 
He also tours around the world, most recently in Dubai and Florida.

Olate Dogs - THEN

Image source: Rolling Stone
Season 7 was the first year that a vocalist didn't win AGT and it was Olate Dogs that broke the streak.  America just could not resist the father and son duo,  Richard and Nicholas Olate and their pack of gorgeous fury friends.  Simon Cowell's heart melted every time he saw them (yes, he does actually have a heart!)

Olate Dogs - NOW

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The group of father and son and four legged friends have participated in various tours around the country and their high profile led them to partner with the Humane Society.  The dogs even guest starred on the radio and took it all in their stride - signs of true professionals!

Kenichi Ebina - THEN

mage source: Gazette Review
If you weren't a fan of robotic dance and many of us were not, then it was all change when Kenihi Ebina rocked the AMT stage.  His talent was off the scale and the audience were mesmerized by his performance.  Ebina's audition went viral, with over 124 million views on YouTube, a record for the show.  Kenichi deserved that win!

Kenichi Ebina - NOW

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The man with the golden feet returned to our screens on AGT: Champions In 2019. Kenichi regularly tours all over the world, from Japan to Dubai.
even lends his amazing skills to productions as a choreographer and artistic director and enjoys these aspects as much as being on stage.

Mat Franco - THEN

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Everyone loves a magician and Mat Franco received that adoration by winning AGT in Season 9.  He continually stumped the judges and fans with his charisma and unexplainable card tricks and illusions.  Even his close-up work left us baffled at how he accomplished some of those crazy tricks.

Mat Franco - NOW

Image source: Forbes
The boy did good and that's a fact!  Mat Franco has enjoyed a residency at Vegas' The LINQ Hotel since 2015, thrilling audiences and breaking boundaries with his magic.  He  has made multiple guest appearances on
, including a performance with the show's recent winner, Dustin Tavella.

Paul Zerdin - THEN

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Paul Zerdin was fortunate enough to receive the Golden Buzzer during his ventriloquist performance so was catapulted straight to the finals.  He was a clear favourite to win - and he did - partly down to his act where he walks off stage and the dummy carries on without him!

Paul Zerdin - NOW

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Paul Zerdin's puppet show, 'Paul Zerdin Hands Free', was a massive success in both the States and the U.K.  Paul and his 'friends' appear every Christmas at the London Palladium Pantomime.  In one segment, the dummy drinks a glass of water while Paul recites the alphabet!

Grace VanderWaal - THEN

Image source: The Reporter
Bring on Season 11!  Twelve year old Grace VanderWaal's Golden Buzzer audition is listed as the second most viewed in AGT history.   Grace became the youngest performer since Season 1's Bianca Ryan to win the show.  The maturity of Grace and her incredible voice made her a very popular choice.

Grace VanderWaal - NOW

Image source: E! Online
In the years since her victory, VanderWaal has released her debut album, 'Just The Beginning', she has signed with IMG model and also starred in the Disney+ original movie 'Stargirl.'  Grace currently has more than 4 million followers on Instagram and she has released two singles, "Don't Assume What You Don't Know" and "Repeat," in 2021.

Darci Lynn - THEN

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Darci Lynne had just turned 12 years old when she took the stage with her quirky band of puppets, showing off her brilliant talent in ventriloquism, comedy and singing that totally wowed the judges.  They commented that she acted well beyond her years.  A Golden Buzzer Act, Darci became the first female ventriloquist to win the show.

Darci Lynn - NOW

Image source: NBC
Darci Lynn returned to take part in the Champions episode of AGT where she gained second place.  She is currently touring all around America and is about to star in her first movie, 'A Cowgirl's Song.'  Is there no end to this girls talents?  She keeps improving with age!

Shin Lim- THEN

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Unlucky for some but not for Shin Lim - Season 13 was to be the year this young man scooped first prize, $1 million.  Shin specialised in close-up card tricks and it was crazy how he had the judges completely baffled and the audience wanting more.  Lim won AGT again, on the Champions show.

Shin Lim - NOW

Image source: New York Times
Shin Lim's feet have hardly touched the ground since his big win on the show.  He has been in constant demand and is currently showing off his mind-blowing illusions and card tricks at Las Vegas' Mirage Hotel.  He has also appeared on 'Ellen' and 'The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.'

Kodi Lee - THEN

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In 2019, Kodi Lee became the fourth Golden Buzzer Act to win. Being both blind and autistic did not stop this mega talented guy from singing his way to the top of the stardom tree.  Regardless of his disabilities, his astounding vocal range and expertise in playing the piano is almost too good for words.

Kodi Lee - NOW

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In July 2022, Simon Cowell ranked his favorite Top 15 Golden Buzzer moments in
history, where Kodi Lee placed 3rd.  Kodi has gone on to perform duets and has released two original songs, to rave reviews.  He currently performs in
s Las Vegas live show at the Luxor in Vegas.

Brandon Leake - THEN

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irmingham Public
Continuing the Golden Buzzer streak, Brandon Leake took home the big win in 2020.  His powerful and raw 'spoken-word' poems brought a very refreshing perspective to the AGT stage.  He managed to connect to fans through emotion and honesty and lots of people managed to 'get him.'.

Brandon Leake - NOW

Image source: NBC
Brandon Leake has released a poetry collection called "Unravelling" and is part way through a residency at the Luxor.  He has appeared on many TV shows and always comes up with new material when he takes centre stage.  Fans comment on how emotional they feel after seeing him perform.

Dustin Tavella - THEN

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Dustin Tavella appeared on the 16th season of the talent show - and went on to win it, of course! He wowed the audience with his talent for magic, but what really made him stand out was his captivating way of storytelling during his magic performances - a good all-rounder!

Dustin Tavella - NOW

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So what's Dustin up to since his win back in 2021? He's appeared on the All-Stars edition of the show, as well as taking up the headlining spot for America's Got Talent Luxor in Las Vegas, where he's found a home with a residency for his performance act! Vegas baby!

The Mayyas - THEN

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This stunning dance group was a Lebanese female troupe that showcased their mesmerizing routines on the show. Not only did their performances get more exciting week after week, but they were also impressive enough to score a judge's golden buzzer!

The Mayyas - NOW

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After winning the show and bagging the million dollar prize, the dance troupe took to Las Vegas of course - but it's not only Vegas they've been showing off their talents. They also went on to perform with Beyoncé in Dubai, for a show in front of the likes of Kendall Jenner during a private performance.

Lindsey Stirling - THEN

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Lindsey appeared on the show in 2010, during the 5th season, and quickly caught everyone's attention with her awesome violin playing, but also her quirky style of looks and performance. Sadly she didn't make it to the final - but she hasn't let that stop her since!

Lindsey Stirling - NOW

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As you might already know if you check your Spotify regularly, Lindsey is now kind of a big deal - she first had a very successful YouTube channel for her violin playing, and went on to record three hit albums, a series of live concerts and even appeared on Dancing with the Stars!

Melissa Villasenor - THEN

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Melissa was a very talented comedian that appeared on the 6th season of the show - and it's always nice to see comedians and impressionists rather than singers all the time, isn't it? Apparently the audience didn't think so, because she was voted off in the semi-finals.

Melissa Villasenor - NOW

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But that hasn't stopped Melissa's successful career since the show! Since she was voted off in 2011, she at first worked her way up through various acting roles before landing a huge spot on Saturday Night Live. But that's not all - she's continued acting, including roles in Toy Story 4 and an Adam Sandler movie.

Tom Cotter - THEN

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Tom Cotter was not only a talented comedian on his series of the show, but he was also the very first comedian to make it to the final of America's Got Talent. He ended up coming second to Olate Dogs during season 7 - but if you're going to lose, you might as well lose to an adorable pup!

Tom Cotter - NOW

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He didn't let that stop him, though - Tom went on to find TV success appearing in a variety of shows, and has even done a TV hosting gig. He regularly performs his act at comedy clubs, and he even went on his own comedy tour to take his act around with him.

Bria Kelly - THEN

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Bria Kelly was the country singer from Virginia who appeared on the show when still a young teenager, during the 7th season. Although she was talented and popular, that came to an end when she was voted out during the semi-finals back in 2012. So what's she been up to since?

Bria Kelly - NOW

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Bria actually got her second chance at stardom when she left America's Got Talent to then audition for The Voice - and she got through, bagged by Usher to add to his team, and made it as far as the top 10 before she was voted out. She's now working as a graphic designer!

Tape Face (Sam Wills) - THEN

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Yep, if you didn't already know this contestant existed, then it's exactly what it sounds like - he had tape on his face. Sam Wills appeared during season 11 in 2016, and he debuted a very interesting mime act (hence the tape over his mouth) which - though different - wowed the audience!

Tape Face (Sam Wills) - NOW

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Due to the audience's love for him, Tape Face got as far as making it to the top 10 of the show before being voted out. But, luckily for him, his appearance on the show made him very in-demand and his career blew up. He's been touring the US and the UK ever since!

Angelica Hale - THEN

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Angelica Hale was one of many young children auditioning for talent shows like this - at only 9 years old, she appeared on the show and sang her heart out. Her song of choice was 'Girl on Fire' by Alicia Keys, and boy was she on fire! She ended up being the runner up of season 12.

Angelica Hale - NOW

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Since her success on the show, and now a little older, Angelica went back to audition for America's Got Talent: The Champions and bagged the golden buzzer to make it through to the final. She's also been appearing in parades and sporting events ever since to sing.

Jabbawockeez - THEN

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Jabbawockeez was a talented dance group that appeared on the show, but were definitely one of those that could have easily been forgotten after they were voted out on season 2. They ended up being eliminated in the Vegas round, but they definitely didn't let that stop them finding success.

Jabbawockeez - NOW

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Instead of fading into obscurity, this dance crew instead went on to become one of the most successful dance acts - proving that you don't need to win the show to find success! They won America's Best Dance Crew a year after their AGT performance, and they became the first dance crew to headline a Vegas show.

Jackie Evancho - THEN

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At only 10 years old, Jackie Evancho wowed the audience not only with her singing prowess, but with the fact that she was belting out classical tunes, too. She starred in season 5 but, despite her talent, she came second place instead of winning the show.

Jackie Evancho - NOW

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Now older, she's found huge success, firstly becoming the youngest solo artist to go platinum, as well as releasing several studio albums and live albums. One of her latest albums is a cover of Joni Mitchell classics, and she also returned to star in America's Got Talent: The Champions.

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