Aubrey Burchell was already a viral sensation before she made her America’s Got Talent debut on Aug. 2. On July 29, NBC released a video, from her audition, of the 21-year-old California native’s performance of The Weeknd’s 2018 hit “Call Out My Name,” which was already viewed more than 2.7 million times on YouTube since it was posted and at least 2.4 million times before Burchell’s performance aired.
“The comments have been so warm,” said Burchell in an interview, following the explosion of her audition video. “For every one negative comment, there are like 8,000 positive ones and people sharing their stories with me and saying such sweet things. I am overwhelmed in the best way.”
Prior to coming to America’s Got Talent, Burchell also tried out on American Idol four years ago but didn’t make it far past her audition. This time around, the singer received four yeses from judges Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Howie Mandel, and Heidi Klum.
“More than anything I want to sell out arenas all around the world,” said Burchell told the judges before her performance. “I want Grammys.” She added, “And most of all, especially as a recently diagnosed level one autistic, a very large portion of my life, I struggled. I want to show other young autistics that are suffering in silence that you can follow your passion and not fit in the box and do what you do and just eat at it.”
The singer also shared that she works at Target and uses breaks to sing. “On my breaks, I scurry off to the bathroom and I sit on the floor,” revealed Burchell. “I set up my camera and I do some singing to keep myself sane.”
Burchell, who was diagnosed with autism in February 2022, said that learning about herself was “a missing puzzle piece” and that she wanted to perform for other people in the neurodivergent community who may be watching America’s Got Talent. “I wanted to get up there and say something about it, because then I can help other young girls and ‘high-functioning autistics,’” shared Burchell. “It’s worth going and finding out because autism does not look just one way. It’s very widely represented as what is seen to be the most extreme form of it. We deserve resources too and to be seen.”
Dressed in a flowery red dress and combat boots with her matching crimson hair, Burchell performed The Weeknd song accenting it with her own crescendos and low-pitched vibratos and kept her eyes mostly shut as she sang to help her get over the stage fright. Instead, Burchell wanted to picture herself just singing at home for fun.
In tears following her audition, Burchell received a standing ovation from the judges and audience. “Wow, you really have a fantastic, fantastic voice,” said Klum. “You really have the pipes and it sounds beautiful.” Mandel added, “Just showing up is a feat in itself, and I can tell you’re nervous but you’re incredibly brave, and kudos just for being here.”
Sofia Vergara called Burchell the “perfect package” and predicted that the young singer could potentially win America’s Got Talent. “You look so cool,” said Vergara. “Your voice, the song that you picked, everything was perfect. I think we love you already. I think America is gonna fall in love with you. I think you have a chance to win this competition.”
Cowell was impressed by how Burchell took The Weeknd’s song and made it her own. “The fact that you made that song your version was genius, absolute genius,” said Cowell. “And it’s a great song, incredible. Was every note perfect? No, it didn’t matter because I really do believe that we are just witnessing somebody’s career about to skyrocket.”
Photos: Trae Patton/NBC