‘America’s Got Talent’ Contestant Sam Cieri Likened to Rod Stewart & John Mayer

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Sam Cieri, co-founder of the NYC-based rock music band Nicotine Dolls, surprised the America’s Got Talent judges and audience with his vocal skills during his audition on July 19.

Additionally, the New Jersey-based singer shared that he was able to pay his bills by making music for the first time a month ago.

“I came here because I’ve been making music my entire life and a month ago was the first month I ever paid my bills with making music,” shared Cieri. “Before this job, I cleaned houses and painted houses but I wasn’t very good at the second one.” The singer joked, “But the second one, if you’re watching, I’m sorry that I did that to your house.”

When Judge Simon Cowell asked him about his dream, Cieri said it was to be a musician. “That’s my job, and that’s what I want to do every day and it self-sustains,” said Cieri. “I want to be creative and that’s going to be my job.”

Falling into theatre by accident when a friend involved with Rock of Ages suggested Cieri for a role in another show, the singer ended up starring in the second national tour of the Broadway show Once. It was there that Cieri met future bandmate, guitarist John Hays, who he would later form Nicotine Dolls with. Nicotine Dolls also includes bassist John Merritt and drummer Abel Tabares.

The band has released several singles since 2019, including their most recent songs “2 Weeks” and “Till We Both Say,” along with their debut EP Sex, Addiction, & Everyone Else in 2021.

Following his performance of the original song, “Tell Me What Makes You Sad,” judge Heidi Klum joked, “If Rod Stewart and John Mayer had a baby…” Cieri interjected, “Those are my parents.”

Sofía Vergara added, “You’re so different and sexy, and I think this is your moment Sam,” while Cowell praised the singer for his honesty.

“It was really authentic,” said Cowell. “You were very honest with us. We got to know you really quickly. It was like you swallowed a great singer because the way you talk, it’s like there’s someone else in you.”

Photos: Trae Patton / NBC

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