Jayy stepped out on the America’s Got Talent stage and left the judges stunned after her emotional rendition of Freya Ridings’ 2017 hit “Lost Without You,” a song she dedicated in honor of her parents.
The 29-year-old native of Philadelphia had always dreamed of auditioning on America’s Got Talent, and finally got her chance Tuesday night (June 29) towards the tail-end of the fifth audition. Revealing that her parents were “in heaven” following a tragedy many years earlier, made her performance all the more stirring.
Originally born in the Dominican Republic, Jayy, real name Jessica Núñez, moved to the United States with her family when she was 15. Her family opened a bodega, and all that young Núñez would ever do is fantasize about competing on her favorite show, AGT.
“I’m going to be on there one day,” Núñez said she would often tell her parents. When judge Sofia Vergara asked the singer if her parents were happy that she is there, she said “I want to say that they are. They’re in Heaven.”
Visibly shaken, Jayy went on to explain that 10 years earlier, when she was 19, her family’s shop was robbed at gunpoint, and her mother, father, and aunt, were shot and killed in front of her. In February 2012, the men who committee the murders were arrested after being linked to two additional holdups, and later found guilty and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole in 2016.
Left to raise her younger brother and sister, Jayy, who was intent on finding the men that altered her life, was finally able to testify against them in court. “They thought that the little girl they left alive was not going to be able to get on that stand,” said Jayy in an 2019 interview. “I was able to stand there and say everything that they did to my family. I did it.”
Jayy, who also competed Univision’s Spanish-language singing competition Reina de la Canción, in 2019, told the AGT judges, “I had to become the big sister for my siblings, and I stopped my dreams. I finally decided to focus on my music that I know [my parents] loved seeing me do all the time.”