'America's Got Talent' Tearjerker: Blind, Autistic Singer Kodi Lee Gets 'Golden Buzzer' From Gabrielle Union - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

'America's Got Talent' Tearjerker: Blind, Autistic Singer Kodi Lee Gets 'Golden Buzzer' From Gabrielle Union

"Through music and performing he was able to withstand living in this world because when you're autistic it's really hard to do what everybody else does," Lee's mother said. "It actually has saved his life, playing music"

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    Now there's a song for you. 

    Southern California musician Kodi Lee brought the house down on the Season 14 premiere of NBC's "America's Got Talent" Tuesday with a performance that scored him a "golden buzzer" advancement into the live shows. 

    The 22-year-old singer and pianist rocked "A Song for You" by Leon Russell after first appearing on stage alongside his mother Tina Lee and aided by a cane. 

    "Kodi is blind and autistic," Tina Lee explained. "We found out that he loved music really early on. He listened and his eyes just went huge and he started singing and that's when I was in tears. Because that's when I realized, oh my gosh -- he's an entertainer." 

    Kodi Lee performs on the "America's Got Talent" premiere.
    Photo credit: Trae Patton/NBC

    Lee's website bio says that he is a musical prodigious savant, who has an "audio photographic memory, in which he can recall music he hears after just one listen." 

    His mother said on "AGT" that music and performance has allowed him to be "able to withstand living in this world because when you're autistic it's really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music." 

    After leading Kodi to a piano, Tina Lee leaned down to give him a last-minute pep talk. 

    "I'm ready," he had said moments before as the camera cut to other family members smiling backstage with host Terry Crews. 

    As Lee began singing his soulful rendition, the judges' eyes widened. At the conclusion, Howie Mandel, Julianne Hough, Simon Cowell and Gabrielle Union joined the audience in a standing ovation. 

    Hough, who could be seen wiping away a tear during the performance, said that Lee's voice "blew us all away." 

    "I just want to say that I heard you and I felt you and that was beautiful," she said. 

    Mandel called Lee a "great inspiration" while Cowell said, "what just happened there was extraordinary." 

    "Your voice is absolutely fantastic," he said. "You have a really beautiful tone. Thank you so much for trusting us on this show. I'm going to remember this moment for the rest of my life." 

    Union, who spoke last, noted that she was not only a new judge this season but a new mother as well, which she called the toughest and most rewarding job she ever had.

    "You just want to give your kids the moon, the stars and the rainbows," she said.

    Union said she wanted to give Lee "something special" then pressed the show's golden buzzer, which triggered a shower of gold confetti. 

    Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough Join 'America's Got Talent'

    [NATL] Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough Join 'America's Got Talent'

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    (Published Tuesday, May 28, 2019)

    The performance and exposure it will generate was years in the making for Lee, who lives in Lake Elsinore, California, and has performed locally and around the world. 

    Tina Lee said in a 2012 profile available on the San Diego Union-Tribune website that her son had hoped to appear on a singing reality competition like "AGT."