On Tuesday’s episode, a South African choir beautifully covered “It’s OK” by the late contestant Nightbirde, whose optimistic ballad had similarly moved the judge in 2021.
Nightbirde, aka Jane Marczewski, had to drop out of the reality competition that year to deal with her cancer and died in 2022 at age 31. But her memory lived on this week in the honey-voiced Mzansi Youth Choir.
Fellow judge Sofia Vergara reached out to comfort Cowell as he tried to collect himself. “Give me one second,” he said after the group’s performance.
“I know how much this would have meant to her,” he continued, referring to Nightbirde. “Right until the end, she was so passionate about sharing her music.”
Cowell hailed the choir’s “most amazing tribute,” adding, “It was just breathtaking, honestly.”
The crowd chanted “golden buzzer” and the judges obliged. They collectively pressed the button to advance the troupe to the live shows with the first audience golden buzzer.