"America's Got Talent" season 15 returned with a new episode on Tuesday, September 1. The new outing featured the fourth and final slate of contestants performing in the live quarterfinal rounds in front of judges Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Howie Mandel. Simon Cowell has yet to join them in studio following back surgery last month.
Among the 11 acts who performed tonight were roaster Alex Hooper, hand-balancing siblings Bello Sisters, spoken word artist Brandon Leake, singers Broken Roots and cheerleaders C.A. Wildcats. They were joined by singer Celina, Divas & Drummers of Compton, singer Kenadi Dodds, projection artists Lightwave Theatre Company and dancer Noah Epps.
The first performer was CA Wildcats, who performed in sync while wearing a mask. Heidi and Sofia praised the cheer team for their "explosive" performance, but Howie didn't seem to be impressed. Kenadi later belted out a beautiful original song called "Dancing Through the Stars". Howie criticized the performance, prompting Sofia to call him out for being "very negative today."
That, however, didn't make Howie change his attitude as he pressed his red buzzer in the middle of Lightwave Theater Company's performance and called it "very depressing." Sofia disagreed, saying that the performance had a "beautiful story." Howie also advised singing trio Resound to step up their game after they sang "Fall On Me" by A Great Big World. Then Noah wowed the judges with his creative performance.
The Diva and Drummers of Compton, however, earned a praise from Howie as they performed from a football field. He even called them his "favorite act of the night." Celina followed it up with a gorgeous rendition of London Grammar's "Strong".
Performing next was Alex who offered a "bedtime story" called "As the World Burns". He brutally joked about the judges and host Terry Crews. Later, Broken Roots and The Bello Sisters showed off their singing and dancing skills respectively.
Concluding the night, Brandon, who earned Howie's Golden Buzzer, offered an outstanding performance with his moving poem. Tackling Black Lives Matter, he talked about his mother's "greatest fear" about her son living in America as a black man.
"Normally death don't really bother me, I'm from southside Stockton. I'm all too familiar with how some family reunions only ever take place on graveyard grass, and a hole can be a safe haven for a soul in this mortal game of hide and go seek. But, there is something so different about Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and the countless others," he said.
He continued, "My mother's greatest fear is that I won't return home breathing, blood pulsing through these veins enough to still be her Pookie. My mom warned me, 'Son, don't you dare get caught at the wrong place at the wrong time with that wrong colored skin … I need you to return home my Pookie, to be your mom.' "
Five of them will be announced to advance to semi-finals in the Wednesday, September 2 episode of "America's Got Talent".