"I can't describe how grateful I am and how amazing and magical that moment [was] for me ... I never expected that it would happen to me," Putri Ariani exclusively tells PEOPLE
Warning: this story contains spoilers from Tuesday's episode of America's Got Talent.
Tuesday's episode picked up with auditions as Cowell, alongside fellow judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofía Vergara, continued their search for the best talent across the U.S. And they certainly found what they were looking for when singer Putri Ariani stepped onto the stage.
Prior to her Golden Buzzer-winning performance, the 17-year-old singer-songwriter from Indonesia told cameras she was blind but hoped it wouldn't define her as a performer.
"My biggest challenge is people look at me as a blind person, not as a musician," she said. "But when I'm singing, I feel like a superstar."
Putri also spoke about her future goals, which include becoming a famous singer like Whitney Houston, winning a Grammy Award and attending Juilliard in New York City. "I hope that I can win America's Got Talent so I can reach my dream," she told the judges.
The teen then sat down at the piano and delivered a show-stopping performance of her own original song. As the crowd and judges rose to their feet and applauded, Simon walked to the stage and asked Putri to sing a second song because he "like[d] her voice so much."
Putri did so without hesitation, leading the judges to praise her even more for her incredible vocals. "A lot of people don't believe in angels but I think one just landed on our stage," Howie told her, as Heidi commended her for "sounding so beautiful."
Simon noted how Putri has "a glow" about her and then asked about her future goals of attending Juilliard. "I don't know if this is gonna make a difference or not, however...," he said before pressing his Golden Buzzer. "You are, I think, one of the best singers we've ever had on our show."
He later explained to host Terry Crews that he pushed his Golden Buzzer for Putri because she was "brilliant," adding, "I am blown away, and you're a great songwriter."
Speaking to PEOPLE after the exciting moment, Putri says everything still feels surreal.
"I can't describe how grateful I am and how amazing and magical that moment [was] for me," she shares. "It's so incredible. I never expected that it would happen to me."
"It's such a dream and this was my first time to go to America," she adds. "I'm so happy because people there appreciate me so much. I'm speechless."
Though some singers would've been thrown off by Simon asking for a second song, Putri says she took the moment in stride. "I [felt] happy because he wanted to listen me more," she notes. "I prepared that song special for Simon."
Fans will likely see a parallel between Putri and season 14 winner Kodi Lee, who captivated audiences with his incredible vocals and piano playing and later earned then-judge Gabrielle Union's Golden Buzzer. Like Putri, Kodi is also blind due to an optic nerve hypoplasia condition he had at birth.
"I watched him and I think that he's amazing and [a] nice person," Putri tells PEOPLE of Kodi, 26, adding that she's inspired by him. "I want to [be] like him. I want to win America's Got Talent like him."
Putri is well on her way. With the Golden Buzzer now under her belt, she gets sent straight to AGT's live shows — making her one step closer to winning the entire competition.
"For me, winning AGT is not only about me, but about the world. How I can give my contribution through the world and influence others who have the same conditions like me and still live in countries like me to reach their dream?" she says. "I just want to say that [people like me] are able, we are capable and we are equal."
"I hope that people who watching me is love me," she adds. "And give me a vote of course, because I can't win America's Got Talent if they don't vote [for] me!"
Putri is the first act of season 18 to win one of the judges' Golden Buzzers. Last week, Mzansi Youth Choir, a group of singers from South Africa, earned the show's first-ever Audience Golden Buzzer after performing a touching tribute to late AGT season 16 singer Nightbirde.
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America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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