We’re used to seeing powerhouse female artists performing Whitney Houston songs on shows like AGT. It’s more rare to see a male vocalist take on one of her hits, but it does happen. Take, for instance, Johnny Manuel.
Johnny auditioned for Season 12 of America’s Got Talent with a cover of Whitney’s “I Have Nothing.” He blew the judges away with his performance. Check it out below, and read on to find out how far Johnny got in the competition.
Johnny Manuel Sings Whitney Houston On ‘AGT’
Manuel was 32 when he auditioned for AGT. At 14, he was signed to a record label as Lil’ Johnny. However, when he was dropped at age 17, he fell out of the spotlight. “I was gonna take off and see the stars, and obviously it didn’t happen that way,” he told the judges.
He added that he wanted to finally be able to “be who I am and present my music to the world.” Johnny went on to perform “I Have Nothing,” showing off an incredible voice that had the judges smiling and the audience cheering for him.
At one point during Johnny’s performance, AGT host Tyra Banks turned to the camera and said, “Whitney hears you, honey.” The crowd gave him a standing ovation afterward.
“You are so powerful,” judge Mel B told him. “And I know you’ve had a journey to get here, but thank you, thank you, thank you for showing up.”
How Far Did Johnny Get In The Competition?
“I was not expecting that,” Howie Mandel told Johnny after his performance. “The fact that you’re finally doing what speaks to you is so wonderful. And this is a jaw-dropping moment on America’s Got Talent.”
“I love that fact that little, shy Johnny is really a diva,” Simon Cowell said. “And I wanna see a bit more of that.” He added that Johnny “can nail and sell a song.” Johnny went through to the next round with four “yes” votes from the judges.
In the Judge Cuts, Johnny performed Stevie Wonder’s “Lately.” Simon criticized the performance, and asked him to sing part of “I Have Nothing” again. Johnny ended up getting the Golden Buzzer from guest judge Seal. He made it to the semifinals, where he was eliminated.
After the show, Johnny joined the group Equinox, who represented Buglaria at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Earlier this year, he competed on The Voice Australia, making it into the final four.