America’s Got Talent just finished up its 14th season, and their winner this year is no less than extraordinary.
Kodi Lee, 22, from California first blew the judges away at his audition with his performance of “A Song For You”, which earned a standing ovation. What was even more impressive, is that Lee managed to give this stunning performance as a blind and autistic man.
Lee was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, which involves the underdevelopment of the optic nerves and resulted in blindness. Lee was also diagnosed with autism at the age of four. Lee’s affinity for music was clear even at a young age. Not only can he sing, but he can play the piano beautifully, and is an experienced tap dancer.
In addition to this, Lee has an audio photographic memory that allows him to memorize music after hearing a song just once. Lee’s talent is unquestionable, but prior to his appearance on America’s Got Talent, he didn’t have much of a social media following and relied on his family for support. Luckily, they were all extremely supportive. Most notably, his mother Tina Lee, who often accompanies him on stage.
After earning the coveted Golden Buzzer at his audition, Lee had a lot to live up to, but he did not disappoint. With striking performances of “Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel, Lee never stopped impressing the judges, or impressing America.
Particularly, new judge Gabrielle Union praised Lee saying, “Aside from reaching through people’s televisions, snatching their hearts out and making people feel something they never felt before, he changes the world, he’s making people believe in something they didn’t even know is attainable. He’s magic.”
No one was surprised when Lee was season 14’s winner. For his final performance, he gave a beautiful performance of “You Are The Reason” by Calum Scott, joined by Leona Lewis. After being announced the winner, Lee’s response was, “That’s for my mom.”
What’s next for Lee? He was nominated for a People’s Choice Award, and he is considering competing in America’s Got Talent’s The Champions. Right now, he is simply enjoying his victory. If anything, Lee’s story shows us how hard work can pay off.
Lee’s success is not due to his disabilities, nor is it despite them. The way Lee lives, feels and plays music may be different from the average person but from that comes something beautiful. Lee’s talent is indescribable, and his music is truly powerful.
His mother describes his relationship with music perfectly, “Through music and performing he was able to withstand living in this world because when you’re autistic it’s really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music.”
I can’t wait to see what Lee does next, but one thing is for certain: Kodi Lee’s life was saved by music, and now he is changing even more lives with his own.
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