(WCMH) — An 11-year-old violinist’s energetic performance earned him Simon Cowell’s golden buzzer on Season 14 of America’s Got Talent.
Tyler Butler-Figueroa, of Raleigh, North Carolina wowed the judges with his violin performance of Stronger by Kelly Clarkson.
Tyler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was four and a half years old. He spent three years in chemotherapy. He says the physical effects and hair loss from the treatment led to bullying at school.
“They spread rumors to say that my cancer was contagious,” Tyler said.
“Wow, I just want to commend you for taking something that’s probably been one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to go through and turning it around and finding something that brings you joy,” said Julianne Hough.
“You are an extraordinary young man. We hear too many stories about people being bullied. But I can tell you one thing, most people are bullied because they are better than the people who bully them,” said Simon Cowell. “I think you have such an amazing talent, such an amazing personality, and I would like to say something on your behalf to the bullies.”
Simon then pressed the golden buzzer, sending Tyler straight to the live quarterfinals.
He started playing the violin with free lessons from an organization called Kidznotes. His broad repertoire now includes genres like Pop, Classical, Gospel, Folk, Memorial, Patriotic, Soft Rock, Line Dance, Nigerian, Hip Hop, Country and Spanish.
“I really like playing the violin, it inspired me to play music for other children with the same story as me,” Tyler told the News and Observer. “I want to show other kids that they can do what their heart tells them.”
Tyler hopes to one day become a professional musician.
During the audition rounds of America’s Got Talent, the golden buzzer allows each judge and the host to pass one performer directly to the live quarterfinal round without further deliberation.
Judge Julianne Hough, as well as host Terry Crews each, have a golden buzzer remaining.