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Singers staking claim to ‘America's Got Talent’ season 9 win

Singers shined in first "America's Got Talent" semifinal performances
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

This week was only the first-round of “America's Got Talent” semifinals, but already the singers in the competition are clearly paving a path to the top. Acrobatic performers, jump-rope wildcards, and even a favorite comedian all had varying degrees of falling from grace, but a show-stopping performance from Emily West to close the first evening of performances put her on a pinnacle that will be hard to topple, and a bevy of beautiful voices are right over her shoulder.

Emily has had a long journey back to the stage, having lost her record contract some 15 years back, and now seasoned by the hard realities of life and the music business, she has renewed determination not to let this season slip away. Howard Stern has called her the best singer that he has seen in his three years on the judges’ panel, and her classic, movie goddess look and dazzling red for her unique twist on Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” surely solidified status, if not the front-runner, position for her. Other strong performances from 12-year-old, Mara Justine, who chose Kelly Clarkson's “Breakaway” as her way to break out front again, and heartthrob Miguel Dakota taking on “Seven Nation Army” like a rock 'n roll warrior all joined for a sizzling night of music. The Sons of Serendip create magic that moves beyond their synchronized harmonies, displaying masterful musicianship, and their wizardry with “Don't You Worry Child” was nothing short of wonder. Soldier Paul Ieti couldn't quite muster the confidence or the correct notes in his Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” in spite of the respect for his service.

West is not the only lady with a past to overcome. Kelly Glover was cut from the competition in 2009, and she squeaked by last week’s eliminations, so staying on stage is precious to her. Quintavious Johnson has a voice to fill an auditorium, too, and get Jennifer Holiday’s respect, too, so Mara Justine has tough competition as well. Howie Mandel told Miguel Dakota he had the special something to take the million-dollar prize for the second time last night, and judging by audience screams, that may be a lock.

Only the votes can decide now who can take the title, but a singer has a landslide of a chance. Blacklight dancing performances and animations have dominated the last few years. Now, “America's Got Talent” is embracing the pure power of the human voice again.

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