Wrapping up NBC’s America’s Got Talent on Tuesday night (June 8) was 30-year-old Jane Marczewski, whose stage name is Nightbirde. In the spotlight with her head held high, she shared her journey to the stage. Battling cancer for the last several years, she selected her original song “It’s OK” to perform for the judges.
The Zanesville, Ohio-native’s story suggests that despite the titular sentiment, her prognosis is not okay. “Last time I checked, I had some cancer in my lungs, my spine, and my liver,” she told the audience.
But, her astute optimism penetrated the grim despair that fell over judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara. She continued, “It’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than the bad things that happened to me.”
Gently, she sets the scene of her struggle with the opening versus: I moved to California in the summertime / I changed my name thinking that it would change my mind / I thought that all my problems they would stay behind / I was a stick of dynamite and it just was a matter of time.
Following an eruption of applause, Mandel expressed that authenticity is at the forefront of his mind when singers, like her, step on the stage. “You know when you feel it, when it moves you,” he explains further. “That feels like the most authentic thing I have heard this season.”
Vergara echoed the sentiment, praising the “heartfelt” performance that gave Klum chills. But it was Cowell who was uncharacteristically moved by the contestant’s poised stage presence as she shared her story, even before delivering her song.
She interrupted his articulation of the “stunning” performance to add, ““You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
Visibly affected by her bravery, the judges’ panel looked shocked when he responded, “There have been some great singers this year and I am not going to give you a yes.” But then, he added, “I am going to give you something else.”
As he reached toward the center of the table, Marczewski was overcome with shock, collapsing in triumph as gold confetti streamed from the ceiling.
Walking off stage, the Golden Buzzer winner disclosed she only has a two-percent chance of surviving. But, in the same spirit that allowed her to shine, she shared, “Two percent is not zero. Two percent is something.”
Watch Nightbirde’s full performance of “It’s OK” and the emotive moment from America’s Got Talent, below.
Photo by Trae Patton / NBC