Indiana Janitor Delivers Mind-Blowing Cover of Journey Classic “Don’t Stop Believin'” on ‘America’s Got Talent’ Season 19 Premiere

Richard Goodall didn’t know what to expect going into season 19 of America’s Got Talent on Tuesday, May 28 but after delivering a powerhouse performance of Journey‘s 1981 classic “Don’t Stop Believin‘” he ended up with the Golden Buzzer.

Before his performance, the 55-year-old Terre Haute, Indiana native told the judges that he’s worked as a janitor for 23 years and that the kids at the middle school where he works know him as “Mr. Richard.” Visibly nervous and sweating, Goodall said that he loved to sing and that it was his dream to get on stage and perform.

“I was that kid up in my bedroom with the Radio Shack stereo,” said Goodall in his pre-audition interview. “My favorite thing was just to sit up and listen to my music, and I just belt it out. Eventually, I was like ‘I gotta find me a job,’ so I became a janitor at Chauncey Rose Middle School, which is only three blocks away from my house.”

He added, “I’m not a fancy person. I take out the trash. I wipe off the tables, I sweep the floors. I’m just having fun and I’m trying to make people happy. The kids would hear me sing and they tell me that I’ve got talent. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I got on a plane.”

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America’s Got Talent “Auditions 1” Episode 1901, Pictured: (l-r) Terry Crews, Richard Goodall, Heidi Klum (Photo: Trae Patton/NBC)

Goodall also described how it felt to leave his home state for the first time. “When I took off from Indianapolis, I felt that front wheel come off the ground and you have this floating [feeling], you’re no longer stable,” shared Goodall. “And that’s what this whole experience is like right now. It’s a good off-balance but until you actually do something, you don’t know if it’s right for you or not.”

Cowell and the judges picked up on Goodall’s nervousness before his performance and quietly rooted for him. When the first notes of Journey’s iconic hit started, the judges and audience were visibly surprised by the song choice, and Goodall’s vocal range as he started belting out the song, echoing the near-exact sound, pitch, and range of ex-Journey frontman Steve Perry‘s vocals.

In 2022, Goodall received a shout-out from Perry after a TikTok video of him singing the song hit three million views.

[The Writer’s Block: 2022 Interview with Steve Perry]

At the end of his performance, Goodall received a standing ovation from the audience and judges. “Richard, you are my hero, because that was special,” said judge Simon Cowell. “I think America is gonna love you.”

Sofia Vergara added, “That was spectacular. That was fun. This was an amazing surprise. I think you were perfect to come to ‘AGT,’ because you made our night,” while Howie Mandell joked “Maybe it’s because you’ve been doing it for 23 years but you just cleaned up. I would imagine every kid that has ever been in a school with you is just screaming. I just think you’re amazing.”

When it was time for Heidi Klum to talk, she said “Richard, Richard, Richard, you knocked me off my feet. We all had the best time with you up there on that stage. I really feel something when I see you up there and I hear you up there.”

America’s Got Talen “Auditions 1” Episode 1901, Pictured: Richard Goodall (Photo: Trae Patton/NBC)

Standing up, Klum said, “And now this is what I’m going to do for you because I love you” before pressing the Golden Buzzer. In tears, Goodall said “I’ve never even been on a plane. This was not on my radar to come to California. It’s just a dream come true.”

The Golden Buzzer secures Goodall’s spot in the season 19 finale.

“Golden Buzzer [winners] are an elite group of people,” added Goodall in a post-AGT interview. “I never in a million years expected to be in that class. And I still can’t believe Heidi did that.”

Photo: Trae Patton/NBC

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