Autism did not hold these amazing talent show contestants from winning our hearts and on Autism Awareness Day, we want to take a moment to acknowledge these amazing talents from America’s Got Talent, The Voice and American Idol.
Kodi Lee, ‘America’s Got Talent’
Kodi Lee dazzled the world with his rendition of Donny Hathaway’s song “A Song For You,” earning a standing ovation and a Golden Buzzer from judge Gabrielle Union. His performance on America’s Got Talent has been viewed more than 300 million times online across social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.
Kodi Lee ultimately ended up winning Season 14 of America’s Got Talent. He is blind and autistic but that has never stopped him from being downright amazing.
After his performance, judge Simon Cowell said: “what just happened there was really extraordinary, I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
“I wanted a performer that was going to change the world,” Gabriell Union said in a video posted to social media explaining her decision to give Kodi lee her golden buzzer. “I believe Kodi was that act.”
Will Breman, ‘The Voice’
Will Breman was a 25-year-old singer and guitarist from Santa Barbara, California, who performed “Say You’ll Be There” in the season 17 Blind Auditions of The Voice and although he did not end up winning the show, he won our heart for sure.
Breman battles with Asperger’s syndrome and music helps him find his happy place. “I’m on the autism spectrum, I had pretty limited interests,” he said in his intro clip.
“Music became my biggest solace, and helped me express my feelings in a way that would otherwise not come naturally to me.”
James Durbin, ‘American Idol’
James Durbin finished in fourth place on the tenth season of American Idol in 2011. Durbin was diagnosed with high functioning autism and Tourettes Syndrome when he was 10-years-old. For a long time knew he was different and wished it would go away. He moved passed that and found music that changed his life.
“My diagnosis, my disability doesn’t disable me from being happy,” Durbin said in his interview with ABC, talking about his wife and kids.
His past struggles are now motivating him to help others understand their value and the meaning of being successful, which he says is subjective. Durbin says it’s good to see more folks talking about autism. “Whatever challenges you’re facing right now, they don’t define you. Because figuring out who you are takes a long time,” said American Idol contestant.
David Militello, ‘America’s Got Talent’
David Militello from Georgia did not talk for 3 years, which led to his eventual diagnosis with autism. In the wake of this revelation, David’s parents began to worry he may never speak – that is until his bus driver heard him singing on the way to school. By age 4 David had a voice and he wanted to be heard. At age 4, he gave a performance in his church’s Easter program that earned him a standing ovation. At age 7, in his church’s Christmas program, left the audience in awe.
Although he was voted out in The Vegas round on America’s Got Talent, he was later chosen to sing the National Anthem at two NBA games.
David’s ultimate goal is to perform on Broadway where he can use both his singing and acting talents. We can’t wait to see this young guy take the world by a storm.