Simon Cowell wasn’t sure what would happen when America’s Got Talent kicked off its 12th season. But after watching a series of auditions that had left him feeling bored, a shy girl named Darci Lynne Farmer walked onto the stage. And no one was expecting what the 12-year-old did next.
Cowell was born in London on October 7, 1959. He started out his career working in the music industry as a record producer. Cowell has renown for signing boy bands including Westlife and One Direction.
In 2001 he began starring on Pop Idol as a judge after creating the concept with Simon Fuller. Cowell was known for making blunt and often callous remarks to criticize the singing talents of contestants. As a result, he was given the nickname “Mr. Nasty.”
The next year, Cowell appeared on the U.S. version of the show, American Idol. He also developed The X Factor in the U.K. and the U.S., which allowed groups and contestants of any age to compete for the grand prize. In 2006 America’s Got Talent began.
Cowell has been a judge on the British version of the talent contest since 2007 but acted as an executive producer on the American series until season 11 in 2016, when he became a judge. Howie Mandel, Mel B and Heidi Klum are also judges on the popular show.
For its 12th season in 2017, Farmer decided to compete. The young girl, who is now 13, is from Oklahoma City in Oklahoma. She lives with her parents Clarke and Misty Farmer and her three brothers Dalton, Nate and Nick.
Farmer was waiting backstage with her mom and dad as other auditions took place. And Cowell was shown telling one group that they weren’t memorable enough. Then it was Farmer’s turn to impress the judges.
Farmer walked on the stage with a puppet named Petunia and revealed that she would be performing a ventriloquism act. When Cowell asked her why she decided to enter the competition, she said, “Well, it was one of my big dreams. But also, I’d really like to keep ventriloquism alive because it’s not common.”
Farmer admitted that she was a shy person. “For me, it’s always been hard to talk to people,” she said. “I’m not good at eye contact and things like that.” But she was inspired to perform after seeing another ventriloquist. So her mom bought her a puppet for her tenth birthday, and the hobby helped to build up her confidence.
“Ventriloquism kind of helped me find my voice. It’s really helped me come out of my shell,” Farmer explained before heading onto the stage. “My shyness is getting better, but there’s going to be a lot of faces out there looking at me. I have to be confident.”
After introducing herself, Farmer began her act. She sang Ella Fitzgerald’s song “Summertime” but made it seem as if it was coming from the rabbit puppet. It even turned into a comedy routine as Farmer made Petunia cut her off when she tried to sing herself. And what happened next left her stunned.
Once Farmer was done, the judges and the audience gave her a standing ovation, and she began to cry. It only got better as they shared their comments and revealed she had blown them away. Howie Mandel admitted that he couldn’t believe that she had only started ventriloquism two years earlier.
“I love you, and I believe you’re going to go far. You just changed your life tonight, young lady,” Mandel told her. Heidi Klum also described the performance as “perfect from beginning to end.” And when it was Cowell’s turn to give feedback, he didn’t live up to his mean reputation whatsoever.
“I’ll tell you what’s important, Darci. We had an act earlier on who were very good, but I said I’m not going to remember them in an hour,” the 58-year-old said. “I’m going to remember you in a week and a month and a year. You’re both brilliant. And when you’ve got it, you’ve got it.”
Finally, Mel B told Farmer that she was “charming and adorable.” She added, “You make my heart melt. You were brilliant. I’m trying to describe how amazing it was.” Then the former Spice Girls singer stood up and did something that left Farmer stunned.
Mel B hit the Golden Buzzer on the desk in front of her. The judges are each allowed to do this at one point during the season, and it means that the act will go straight through to the live performances and skip the Judge Cuts weeks altogether. After Mel B pressed the button, gold confetti rained down on Farmer.
The young girl was clearly overwhelmed with emotion and burst into tears. Her mother had been waiting in the wings with presenter Tyra Banks and screamed with joy before rushing onto the stage to give her daughter a hug. Mel B also walked up to embrace the 12-year-old and congratulate her on her performance.
The clip has now been viewed more than 50 million times on YouTube, and several commenters revealed that the touching moment made them cry. After her audition, Farmer competed against 35 other acts in the quarterfinals. She made it through to the finals and ended up winning the contest altogether on September 20, 2017.
Farmer was given a $1 million prize as well as a headlining gig at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. But she proved so popular that the two dates sold out, with two more shows added. Since then, she has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and alongside Fergie during a Las Vegas New Year’s Eve event.
The 13-year-old is currently on the Darci Lynne and Friends Live tour that is running across the country from January 2018 to January 2019. And Farmer has been praised for bringing ventriloquism back into fashion. She has revealed that she plans to use her prize money to buy her mom a new dishwasher, donate to her church and hopefully buy a pet pug.