AGT's First-Ever Audience Golden Buzzer Moves Simon Cowell to Tears in Season 18 Premiere — Watch

Actual human tears? From Simon Cowell? Now that’s how you kick off a new season of America’s Got Talent.

AGT returned for its 18th edition on Tuesday, ending with a first for NBC’s long-running competition series: a Golden Buzzer selected by the audience. And we can’t imagine a single viewer who didn’t wholeheartedly agree.

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The lucky recipient was Mzansi Youth Choir, the final act to audition on Tuesday. The South African vocal group would have been impressive on its own, but it went the extra mile by performing a song written by Jane Kristen Marczewski — aka Nightbirde, a fan-favorite AGT contestant from Season 16 who lost her battle with cancer in 2021.

Cowell became visibly emotional during the performance, and he was fully powering through tears as he gave the group its good news.

“Right until the end, she was so passionate about sharing her music,” he said of Nightbirde. “This has gone all over the world, and you’ve come back here with the most amazing tribute. It was just breathtaking, honestly.”

As chants for a Golden Buzzer began to grow from the crowd, Cowell added, “We’ve always discussed one day giving the audience something.” And just like that, the first-ever audience-chosen Golden Buzzer in AGT history was awarded to Mzansi Youth Choir.

Read on for a breakdown of the other eight acts sent through during this first week of AGT Season 18 auditions, then vote for your favorite(s) in our poll and drop a comment with your thoughts on the episode.

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