So here it is, the final show of the season for America’s Got Talent. Simon Cowell and the gang — Howie Mandel, Mel. B.. Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks — were all on hand, but it’s America’s vote that counted. How you pick a winner is beyond me, because there’s a bunch of talent at the top, with the amazing 12-year-old ventriloquist Darcy Lynn Farmer leading the way. Goldderby, in it’s prediction, labeled her a slight favorite to win over 10-year-old powerhouse singer Angelica Hale with another singer, Mandy Harvey, coming in third. That wouldn’t have been my top three — I’d have Farmer winning it, too, followed by Mandy Harvey and the tremendous Diavolo rounding out the top three.
There were several highlights, but two stick out. First, Harvey sang a duet with Shania Twain and they did the hit song, Still the one. Run to YouTube and check it out. Then, for the first time, Darci Lynn Farmer, 12, and Angelica Hale, 10, finally cracked the veneer of poise and maturity well beyond their years when they both broke down upon learning they made the top 5.
But now, enough of the guessing. Here’s who won the $1 million grand prize and a chance to perform in Las Vegas. AGT named the top five acts, and then named the winners from there.
America’s Got Talent, season 12, episode 24, the finale, 8 p.m. Wednesday September 20, 2017
Darci Lynne Farmer, ventriloquist
YES!!! This make complete sense. The 12-year-old ventriloquist has one hell of a career in front of her. She’s funny, with a polished act, and she’s better singing with her mouth closed than most people do with it opened. She also makes her own puppets and thinks up the stories behind them. Whether it was her Golden Buzzer performance of Summertime, or her tremendous Who’s Lovin’ You, she was consistently spectacular. “You are just hands down incredible,” Mel B. said in the Finals “You could win this.” And, she did. What a moment for someone so young.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Angelica Hale, singer
She is a phenom. I mean, really. What 10-year-old sings like this and had such poise? What 10-year-old has the best voice in any competition? This is a young girl who’s already overcome pneumonia that was so bad it ruined a kidney and she almost died. But her mother donated a kidney to keep her alive. She capped a tremendous run with a killer version of Symphony, showcasing a range that’s hard for experienced singers four times as experienced to conquer. I’d be stunned if we don’t hear about her for a long, long time.
Light Balance Dance Group, from the Ukraine
They came here for a better life in America, and now, they are on the edge of winning $1 million and performing in Las Vegas. They are, arguably, the most original act left in the show. These guys from the Ukraine use lights to create a funky techno display that has routinely blown everyone’s mind. And they did it again! What a way to end the show. They were tremendous. “This was incredible,” Simon said. And, they made it this far. They even surprised bu getting this far. I think they have a future in Vegas, for sure,
Mandy Harvey, singer
OH MY! This is a bit of a stunner. Fourth place? What? Kechi may be the story of courage this season, but Mandy Harvey turned into its heart and soul. You know the story by now — she lost all of her hearing when she was 18, when she got sick and the nerves in her ears deteriorated, and she finally went deaf. But that didn’t stop her from pursuing her music dreams — she’d been singing since she was 4-years-old. Now, she feels the music through vibration, and at the age of 29, she’s everything — sweet, strong, and more importantly, a tremendous singer and writer. I so wanted her to win, as much of America did, but she fell short.
Sara Carson and her dog, Hero
Simon’s show crush has made it all the way to the AGT final, and she actually made it into the top 5. Amazing. Remember, he saved Sara and Hero during their first performance and has been a staunch supporter ever since. Sara and Hero were a TON better during judges cuts, and during the AGT semi-finals, they were back with another fun act. So here, in the finals, you can’t afford mistakes, and Sara and her act made a few. Every judge (except Howie) stood. “This was honestly, incredible,” Simon said.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
Chase Goehring, 21, musician
It’s tough on musicians on these shows. You have to separate yourself and be really original. Chase Goehring, a 21-year-old singer/songwriter from a small town in Tennessee, has blown originality out of the water. He’s done nothing but perform original songs, and they’ve all been excellent, a combination of scat, rap and song that is not what you’re used to hearing. Someone’s going to sign him to a record contract. But remember, optics? Hiw much they matter? Simon and Heidi stood up; Howie and Mel. B didn’t. “I bloody loved it,” Simon said. “This song was brilliant.” It was, and he was, but it wasn’t enough to get him through.
Diavolo, Architect in Motion
This was a bit of a stunner, Diablo went up against the equally outstanding Light Balance — and lost out. This act was, arguably, the most original act left in the competition, the one act that screamed Vegas. The first time we saw them, the dancers jumped on an arch-looking structure that moved side-to-side, and the dancers took turns dancing and jumping. For their second act, the troupe said in preparation some members suffered some broken bones. The live show was just as crazy, as they danced and pranced inside a large moving wheel. So we could expect more insanity during the AGT semi-finals — and that’s what we got. Now here, in the AGT finals, they stepped it up another notch, and showed why, of all of the acts left, are the one that has the most Vegas-like feel. The judges stood. The crowd cheered. “Anyone who owns a casino … in Vegas, book these guys,” Simon said. Let’s hope someone does.
Evie Claire, singer
There was no more touching story in this entire competition than Evie Claire. When she started this journey, the 13-year-old singer, she was signing for her dad, who was battling stage four colon cancer, and when she sings, she sings for him. She sang for him again tonight, but this time, is was a song filled with sorrow. Her father died just days before she was to take the stage in the AGT finals, and I have no idea how someone so young had the strength and composure to do what she did. She did, “What a wonderful world,” which is an amazing brave song choice — and perfect. “This was a perfect tribute to your dad,” Simon said. And it was. Hopefully, she’ll continue singing for her dad, and all of us.
The 26-year-old funny man has been honing his craft for eight years and at one point was homeless as he pursued his craft. Preacher Larson has been consistently outstanding and original, a ball of energy who attacks every joke with the gusto of a child eating candy. Tuesday’s AGT semi-final was no different, as Larson was his manic, side-splitting self. Same in the finals. This time, he seemed more in control and sure of himself. He spoke slower, you could hear the jokes and his was animated in a good way. He did serve the best for last. “I think you should win this,” Howie said. He didn’t, but, we haven’t seen the last of him.
Kechi Okwuchi, singer
Evie Clair is sweet and heartbreaking; Mandy Harvey is amazing and has overcome tremendous adversity. But Kechi wins the adversity award — On October 29, 2006, an ADC Airlines plane went down in Abuda, Nigeria. Some 107 people died, and there were just two survivors. One was Kechi Okwuchi, a 16-year-old girl who was coming back from her boarding school. Now living in Houston, she’s sailed through the competition and during the semi-final round, she really found her stride with “Don’t worry about me.” This time she sang, over and over again, I am a conqueror, and that she is. “That wasn’t a song. That was an anthem,” Simon said. When people think courage and strength, from now on, many will think, Kechi.