Cristina Rae of Marietta, during this week’s quarterfinals of “America’s Got Talent,” opted for one of the most crowd-pleasing songs in the history of reality competition shows: “Hallelujah.”
Closing the night on Monday, she hit a glorious high note that helped propel her into the semifinals during Tuesday’s results show, based on America’s vote.
She was one of five acts out of 11 who made it to the semifinals en route to a potential $1 million prize.
Rae was Heidi Klum’s “Golden Buzzer” pick from her audition performance of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”
A single mom, she dotes on her three-year-old son Jeremiah.
“Before I was a mom, I had no one,” she said before Monday’s performance. “My family wasn’t a supporter of my pregnancy or my dreams. I felt alone. I wanted to give up at times honestly because it felt like you’re not just battling someone telling you you’re wrong for believing in yourself but you’re also battling with you believing in yourself. But Jeremiah made me want to fight harder to make a better life for ourselves. Now being here shows him anything and everything is possible.”
“Hallelujah,” originally written and sung by Leonard Cohen and famously covered by Jeff Buckley, has been sung multiple times on “America’s Got Talent,” “The Voice” and “American Idol.”
Dressed in a sparkly outfit, Rae’s clear voice rang out in a largely empty auditorium with power and clarity. A virtual audience gave her plenty of cheers on video screens.
The three judges were all effusive in their praise, with Simon Cowell still out due to his back injury from an accident a couple of weeks ago.
Klum said, “You sang this flawlessly. It was so perfect. It was crystal clear... I want you to win so badly.”
Sofia Vergara: “That was gorgeous. You sound like you’re already a recording artist.”
Howie Mandel: “You did it with such ease and that range of notes.”
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.