Blind and Autistic Singer Kodi Lee Wins ‘America’s Got Talent’ Season 14

CNN Newsource
By CNN Newsource
September 19, 2019Entertainment
Blind and Autistic Singer Kodi Lee Wins ‘America’s Got Talent’ Season 14
Simon Cowell and Kodi Lee attend "America's Got Talent" Season 14 Finale Red Carpet at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2019. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Judge Simon Cowell called it one of the best seasons ever and on Wednesday night, “America’s Got Talent” crowned one of its most popular contestants.

Singer/pianist Kodi Lee, 22, was named the winner of Season 14.

Lee, who is blind and autistic, was hailed throughout the season for his soulful, moving performances and he and his mother Tina jumped for joy when the announcement was made.

“I feel so amazing, unbelievable,” Lee said after host Terry Crews asked him to describe how he was feeling.

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Kodi Lee attends “America’s Got Talent” Season 14 Live Show Red Carpet at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on Sept.17, 2019 . (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Lee beat out finalists including the Detroit Youth Choir, comedian Ryan Niemiller and acrobatic dance group V. Unbeatable to win the $1 million prize and headliner status for an “AGT” show in Las Vegas.

Born with optic nerve hypoplasia and diagnosed with autism at age 4, Lee’s audition cover of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You” blew the judges away and earned a coveted Golden Buzzer from judge Gabrielle Union.

During that performance—which went viral—Lee’s mother said the family discovered early on that he had a love for music.

“Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world,” she said. “Because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everyone else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music.”

America's Got Talent
America’s Got Talent. (Trae Patton/NBC)

‘Best Final We’ve Ever Had’

As “America’s Got Talent” kicked off the show’s live finals on Tuesday night, judge Simon Cowell had nothing but praise for the performers.

For the finals, Lee sang Freya Ridings’ “Lost Without You” and received a standing ovation from the audience. Cowell praised the rendition, saying it stood out from every performance he’s ever seen.

“One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever, ever heard,” Cowell said, adding, “That was as good as I’ve ever heard.”

Another standout was the Detroit Youth Choir which sang “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for the second time.

Detroit Youth Choir
Detroit Youth Choir attends the Season 14 Finale of “America’s Got Talent” at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on on Sept. 18, 2019. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“Detroit Youth Choir has taught us strength, love, confidence, friendship,” the choir members said. “We embody the spirit of Detroit. People from Detroit know how to fight back despite the obstacles in their way. … We fight for what we believe and we’re going to fight to win ‘America’s Got Talent.'”

Cowell called the show the “best final we’ve ever had,” and said the winner could be any one of the finalists.

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